How Big Data Will Transform Coaching in the NBA

There’s a staggering amount of information an NBA coach would have to hold in his head to do his job optimally, a volume that—given the rapidly increasing sophistication of the tools that produce it—likely grew in the time it took you to read this sentence.

Consider this: In 2014, 25 times a second, in every NBA arena, the location of the 10 players on the floor, as well as the ball and the officials, are captured by a network of SportVU motion-tracking cameras, then translated into facts about the game. Additional technologies are poised to add layers of detail to this already rich picture.

The sheer number of concerns, calculations and considerations—in other words, opportunities for a competitive edge—presented by this data is overwhelming. The average person can hold seven discrete bits of information in his or her head at a time; someone with a genius-level working memory and ample training can manage up to 80. The iPhone in your pocket right now can hold trillions.

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