Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Missile-tracking tech fuels stats

The Cleveland Cavaliers have begun to provide advanced statistical data from Stats LLC’s SportVU player motion tracking product for its fans, representing a new implementation of the product beyond its base in team operations.

SportVU, based on Israeli optical missile-tracking technology, tracks player speed, distance, shot arc and many other advanced statistical measures. Fifteen NBA teams, as well as a large number of European soccer clubs, use SportVU as a coaching and roster development tool. But the Cavaliers have started making some of the additional data available to fans.

SportVU player stats appear on the Cavs’ scoreboard.
Data from SportVU has been made available on the Cavaliers’ center-hung scoreboard at Quicken Loans Arena, other video displays around the arena, the team’s official online and mobile sites, and its social media destinations. Stats for months has sought to move the SportVU data, before tightly guarded by its team clients, into a public setting, and found a willing partner with the Cavaliers.

“It was sort of by accident. I was sitting in the pitch meeting Stats was making with our basketball operations group, and I was just completely taken with the idea,” said Kerry Bubolz, Cavaliers president of business operations. “I was really interested in the data this product was generating, the new forms of statistics it could track, and it immediately made me think others would be interested as well.”

Still, making the SportVU data publicly available required balancing the goals of the two halves of the Cavaliers front office. What has been made available are largely counting-based statistics that tabulate the number of dribbles a player takes, the speed and distance he runs, and other relatively simpler measures. More advanced, algorithm-based statistics that use SportVU data remain strictly the province of the club’s basketball operations department. The club also does not display any SportVU data that places a player in an embarrassing light.

“This was always something we wanted to do with the data. The capability is totally there,” said Brian Kopp, Stats vice president. “But to move into fan engagement like this always had be done in complete partnership with the teams. The Cavaliers saw a big opportunity with this right away. ”

The Cavaliers next season are looking to integrate SportVU data into their game telecasts on Fox Sports Ohio, and also take the various statistical measures to their corporate partners for sponsorship opportunities.

“There are a lot of obvious tie-ins between what this data tells us in terms of speed, endurance and so forth, and the brand attributes our corporate partners have,” Bubolz said.