In an effort to provide fans from around the world the basketball knowledge and highlights they desire, the NBA has delivered a wide array of advanced metrics, play type breakdowns, player tracking data, detailed shot charts, hustle stats and video box scores allowing fans to watch any play from any game.
That is a lot of information to process even for the most die-hard hoops junkie. Now thanks to a partnership with Microsoft, the NBA is taking the next step to deliver powerful insights to fans with NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure, a new platform highlighting next-generation metrics to fans. These metrics are derived by utilizing the Microsoft Azure platform and its AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) capabilities to track and analyze action on the court and generate insights behind every shot, pass and play.
#NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure debuted on the NBA’s social channels this season, delivering a series of posts marrying data with on-court game highlights to bring the X’s and O’s of player tracking data to life. The Eye Test vs. Analytics debate when it comes to basketball analysis has been raging for years. Now with NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure, the data and the video complement one another to provide a more thorough breakdown of the game.
Expected Shot Value
The NBA has long been called a make or miss league — with ESPN’s The Jump turning the phrase into a daily segment of their show — but of course things are not that simple. There is a wealth of data that goes into what makes those shots makes or misses — everything from defensive pressure and proximity, location of the shot attempt, whether the shot is a pull-up or catch-and-shoot.
NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure features players’ expected shot value on any potential shot attempt — often showing how each specific player compares to the league average when facing the same circumstances.
#NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure dives deeper into the metrics, breaking down the duo's shot efficiency ranks, with Kyrie off-the-dribble & KD's face-up game the past 2 seasons. KD & Kyrie are two elite scorers in the NBA… and they tip-off the season at 7pm/et on TNT! pic.twitter.com/x085e7Nn38
— NBA (@NBA) December 22, 2020
Which players garner the most attention from opposing defenses when they have the ball? How many times are they double teamed each game, and for how long? And what does the offensive player do when an extra defender comes his way — pass, dribble or shoot?
What is the result of the possession when a player is double teamed — a basket by the player, a basket by a teammate, a turnover, a missed shot?
All these questions can be answered with NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure. And as you can see from the video below, Stephen Curry is very familiar with double teams and knows how to create shots either for himself or his teammates when an extra defender comes his way.
#NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure highlights the attention Stephen Curry draws on offense! Gaining the focus of multiple defenders on the court, Curry creates open and efficient shots for his teammates by drawing double teams.
📺 Warriors vs. Nuggets at 10 PM ET on TNT pic.twitter.com/XGIsCHstt2
— NBA (@NBA) January 14, 2021
Throughout the season, NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure will feature different types of passes — outlet, pass ahead, ball reversal, draw-and-kick — but can look at the distance traveled, trajectory and accuracy of those passes as well.
It goes beyond which players make the most passes or accumulate the most assists. How good of a shot opportunity (going back to Expected Shot Value) are these passes creating for the recipient of the pass?
In the example below, we see that LeBron James and Luka Doncic are two of the best at creating wide-open 3-point attempts for their teammates — passes so good that their teammate is able to catch and shoot the ball before a defender can get within six feet of them during the shot attempt.
#NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure shows Luka Doncic and LeBron James as two of the league's leaders in finding open 3pt shooters; which could be a deciding factor in this matchup. Watch the Mavericks and Lakers play tonight at 8:00 PM ET on ABC/ESPN to see them in action. pic.twitter.com/oxjePBf74g
— NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2020
Thanks to player tracking data, we can measure the average speed and distance traveled of all players while they are on the court. But what was missing was looking at a player’s top burst of speed at any given moment in a game.
NBA CourtOptix Powered by Microsoft Azure helps find a player’s top speed — including when it happened in the game and what game situation brought about that burst of speed. Was it a fast break on offense (see below for Zion Williamson moving quick to get a dunk in transition) or perhaps a chase down on defense?
Learning a player’s top sprint speed and the game situation that generated that burst from them adds another dimension to the analysis of player’s movement while on the court.
Watch as Zion hustles back for the dunk! #NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure tracks Zion’s sprint speed as he runs from end to end at 16.0 mph. pic.twitter.com/OFQSvMCFet
— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021
Shooting Efficiency by Shot Type
When it comes to discussing the best shooters in the game, there are so many different types of shots to consider. We can look at catch-and-shoots, pull-ups, step-backs and fadeaways. We can look at shot distance — at the rim, in the paint, mid-range, corner 3s, above the break 3s, deep 3s.
#NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure looks at Dame Lillard's long range shooting efficiency. After shooting 36.8% from 30-45 feet last year, Logo Lillard is shooting 43.8% from deep this season (highest in the league among players who have taken at least 5 of these shots).
— NBA (@NBA) January 9, 2021
We can look at defensive proximity to see which players are at their best when wide open compared to when there is someone in their airspace. And we can look at all of these different types of shots based on game situation and time. Which players are at their best at the beginning of games? Which players see their shooting percentages rise when the game is on the line?
Check out Paul George's major impact on the court. #NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure looks at PG's league leading shooting efficiency on contested 3-pointers (his defender within 6ft).
Tune-in tonight as the Clippers take on the Warriors at 10:00 PM ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/on2pK747yX
— NBA (@NBA) January 8, 2021
Be sure to follow the #NBACourtOptix hashtag across NBA social channels to see more insights from the NBA all season long.