NBA

'There's a significant place for it' – Coles' Celtics embracing AI and data

By Sports Desk May 25, 2020

Boston Celtics executive director of performance Phil Coles believes there is a "significant place" for artificial intelligence and data in the NBA.

The use of machine learning and AI has helped revolutionise sport and basketball in recent years, as professional teams look for any advantage they can get.

Analytics goes way beyond recording basic stats such as points, rebounds and assists, the new metrics and data are able to more accurately quantify and predict player and team performance.

Asked about AI and data in the world of basketball, Coles told Stats Perform News: "I think there's a significant place for it. But with everything, it's about using that data well.

"There's two aspects to how well data is used. Firstly, how good is the data you collect, what's the validity and the reliability of that data? Secondly, what is the practical outcome or the improvement you can gain from that? There's no magic bullet or right answer as to how to do that. We're always looking at anything that might help us.

"Certainly, in the performance world, collecting physical data is a huge component of that. But, it's not necessarily we're looking to find a magic bullet. It's trying to have as much information as we could possibly have and try to use it as appropriately as we can in our situation."

The Orlando Magic became the first NBA team to use AI player tracking data when they signed a deal with Stats Perform in 2019.

Orlando use tracking data produced by AutoSTATS to analyse collegiate players and improve evaluation and decisions for the NBA Draft. The first-of-its-kind technology in sports, AutoSTATS delivers comprehensive player-tracking data directly from video through patented AI and computer vision technology.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to be take place on June 25, though that could change amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How will Coles – who heads the performance team – and the Celtics approach the draft?

"Our performance team is involved in the sense of giving as much of a full physical profile to the decision-makers as we can," the Australian said. "Obviously, [general manager and president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge leads that field and the basketball analysts are involved, a number of coaches, scouts and all of the front office.

"Our role in that is to give them as much information as we can on the physical qualities of each player, the injury histories of each player. Predicting the future in those things can be fraught with danger, but that's where having as much data as possible is useful and being able to interpret that data wisely is useful.

"Ultimately, we are one small component of a really large process. Our component is to try to define as much as we can the physical qualities of the players they're looking at."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Raptors ready to defend NBA title – Ibaka Coronavirus: Raptors ready to defend NBA title – Ibaka

    Serge Ibaka warned the Toronto Raptors are "locked in" and ready to defend their NBA title following the coronavirus-enforced break.

    The NBA season is set to resume on July 30 after the 2019-20 campaign was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

    Orlando's Disney World complex will host 22 teams, with the Los Angeles Lakers headlining the league's comeback against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30 after the New Orleans Pelicans face the Utah Jazz on the same day.

    Defending champions the Raptors – second in the Eastern Conference and trailing the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) with a 46-18 record – will restart their season against the Lakers on August 1.

    Raptors star Ibaka said his team-mates are ready to return, telling reporters via a conference call on Saturday: "I saw just how everyone is in great shape. 

    "They came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work.

    "I've been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people's locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not.

    "So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready. Everybody is ready."

    Ibaka, who helped the Raptors win their first championship last season, added: "It's been a little bit weird [this season] with everything that's going on. But one thing we know is that it's over.

    "Whatever happened last season is over, and we've got to try to put our mindset so that it's ready to go for this one.

    "We know it's going to be hard, it's going to be a challenge, and everyone is going to come for us because we are the champs, so we have to be ready."

    Meanwhile, the 30-year-old center admitted he is worried about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida.

    "Honestly it's really concerning," he said. "Hopefully everybody has to follow the rules, every player, when we get in the bubble in Orlando, we can respect all the notes that they're going to give us.

    "But I have my daughter who lives here in Orlando, and it's kind of scary a little bit. It's something where you have to make sure you look at it."

  • Pacers' Oladipo opts out of NBA restart Pacers' Oladipo opts out of NBA restart

    Star guard Victor Oladipo has chosen not to join the Indiana Pacers for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando, Florida, saying that he would not be comfortable playing.  

    Oladipo announced his decision on Friday in an article with The Athletic.  

    The two-time All-Star – who has played just 13 games this season after taking the floor only 36 times in 2018-19 – cited his lengthy injury history when explaining why he has opted out of the rest of the season.  

    "I feel like I'm at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent," Oladipo said. 

    "With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can't get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing." 

    The Pacers are fifth in the Eastern Conference at 39-26 this season as they prepare for the NBA's 22-team plan to finish the 2019-20 season in Orlando starting on July 30. 

    The first of Indiana's eight seeding games is on August 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers.  

    The team is also without guard Jeremy Lamb, who tore the ACL in his left knee in February.  

    "I really want to play, and as a competitor and team-mate this is tearing me apart," Oladipo said. 

    "I have to be smart and this decision hasn't been easy, but I truly believe continuing the course I'm on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me." 

    The second overall pick in the 2013 draft, Oladipo's best season was his first with the Pacers, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals over 75 games in 2017-18.  

    It looked as if Oladipo had finally blossomed into a player worthy of his draft slot but rupturing tendons in his quadriceps twice has prevented the 28-year-old from making consistent contributions over the last two seasons.  

    Oladipo joins a growing list of players who have opted out of the restart, including Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley and Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza.  

  • Celtics' Hayward will leave Orlando in September for child's birth Celtics' Hayward will leave Orlando in September for child's birth

    Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said he will exit the NBA's bubble in Florida for the birth of his next child if his team is still playing at that stage of the league's revised season. 

    Hayward's wife is due to give birth to the couple's fourth child in September. The NBA's current plans for its restart have the Eastern Conference semi-finals beginning no later than August 30 and the conference finals starting by September 15. 

    At the time of the NBA's stoppage on March 11 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Boston occupied the third seed in the East, three games behind the first-place Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division.  

    "There'll be a time if and when we're down [in Orlando] and she's going to have the baby, I'm for sure going to be with her," Hayward said of his wife, Robyn. "We'll have to cross that bridge when we get there." 

    The NBA has put in stipulations for players who have received permission to leave the Walt Disney World Resort complex. If a player is gone for less than seven days and continues to test negatively for COVID-19, he would be required to quarantine for four days after returning. 

    "I know the NBA has a protocol for that type of thing, and hopefully I can do the quarantining and testing the appropriate amount of time and then be back with the boys," he said.  

    Hayward was in the midst of his best season with the Celtics at the time of the league's shutdown. The former Utah Jazz star is averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 39.2 percent from three-point range in 2019-20.  

    The 30-year-old added that the time off has been beneficial for him physically, but admitted that he still deals with occasional pain in his left foot. Hayward fractured his left ankle in the 2017-18 season opener, his first game as a Celtic after leaving the Jazz to sign a four-year max contract. 

    "Everything is definitely a lot better. There is no doubt about that," said Hayward. "For sure, I'm feeling great, it's just the foot still is a little sore. It is what it is." 

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.