SportVU Player Tracking Numbers for Celtics
BOSTON – If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past decade, you might have missed the fact that the Boston Celtics are one of the most advanced front offices in the NBA when it comes to statistical analysis.
That’s right, Danny Ainge doesn’t make his decisions based solely off of intuition. He and his staff, led by the presence of assistant general manager Mike Zarren and bolstered by the addition of head coach Brad Stevens, use numbers and data as key metrics in analyzing players.
Boston was one of the first teams to employ SportVU technology in its arena. SportVU consists of cameras and software that track “the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second,” according to NBA.com/STATS. Which brings us to the point of this story – the collaboration of NBA.com/STATS and SportVU.
The website now collects this information from every NBA arena and makes it readily available to NBA fans. You can now find out who the fastest player on the court happens to be. Are you curious about who makes the most passes per game? The answer is just a few clicks away. (It’s Chris Paul with 80.3, by the way)
We dug into the NBA.com/STATS player tracking tool to find out some interesting fact about the Celtics through their first 11 games of the season. Here are some of our most interesting finds.
The distance NBA players travel during an NBA game might shock you. Three players on the Celtics roster travel an average of at least 2.0 miles per game this season. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley each travel an average of 2.2 miles per game, which is the eighth-highest total in the league. Brandon Bass travels 2.0 miles per game.
That amount of distance adds up over time. It’s incredible to think that Green has traveled 24.1 miles on the court this season, while Bradley has accumulated 23.7 miles on his speedy legs.
Gerald Wallace, at 31 years old, has already traveled 20.6 miles despite playing only 28.1 minutes a game. Remember how Stevens always says Wallace plays incredibly hard? Well, that number supports Stevens’ claim.
Who’s the fastest Celtic on the court? The numbers say it’s a tie between Courtney Lee and Phil Pressey.
Lee and Pressey each average a speed of 4.4 miles per hour as they’re on the court. That includes all of their movements, from sprinting, to jogging, to walking, to backpedaling. Their average speed is the fifth-highest in the league through November 17.
Touches Per Game
It’s no surprise that Jordan Crawford leads the Celtics in touches per game. After all, he is currently the team’s starting point guard. However, the margin between him and the next Celtic in this category is larger than one might expect.
Crawford averages 65.3 touches per game through 11 games. The next-closest teammate is Avery Bradley, who averages just 49.2 touches per game.
Close Touches Per Game
A sub-set of touches per game is the category, "Close Touches Per Game". This accounts for the amount of touches a player receives per game within 12 feet of the basket.
Obviously, Jared Sullinger is at the head of the pack for the Celtics in this category. Sullinger averages 4.1 close touches a night, which ranks 31st in the league. There are only three players in the league (Timofey Mozgov, JaVale McGee and Kosta Koufos) who play less minutes than Sullinger but get more close touches. Sully will undoubtedly be much higher on this list as his playing time increases.
Total Points on Drives
There is nothing in the world Celtics fans love more than when Jeff Green drives to the basket. The good news is that he’s put up a solid number of points via drives this season. The bad news is that his number could be much higher.
Green ranks 17th in the league with 38 points scored off of drives. (For some context, Evan Turner of the 76ers leads the league with 87 total points off of drives.) Green, however, only drives to the basket an average of 3.8 times per game. That rate isn’t even highest on his own team, as Crawford leads the way in that category with 4.5 drives per game.
The Celtics are getting points out of Green via his drives to the rack. However, they would likely benefit from Green attempting those drives much more often.