Blazers’ Corner: Analytics, McCollum Popular Among His Peers, Babbitt Headed to Russia

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NBA to Install Data-Tracking Cameras in Every Arena

Analytics is all the rage in the world of sports these days.  Baseball and football in particular have, over the last few years, begun to heavily rely on data and statistics to make decisions during games and in team’s long-term plans.  In contrast, the NBA has been a little behind the curve when it comes to using new technology and data to help shape their franchises.

But that will change for the upcoming season with news that all 29 NBA arenas (Including the Moda Center) will have state-of-the-art cameras installed.

STATS LLC Cameras - Doug Pensinger:Getty Images
STATS LLC Cameras | (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

STATS LLC, the company responsible for the optical tracking data that half the league used a year ago to assist them in basketball analysis, has reached a deal with the remaining NBA franchises to have their cameras available.

The cameras open up the potential to track things as basic as the distance run by a player in a given game.  They also enable teams to create complex systems to evaluate their defense against an ideal model.

This stuff is geeky and complex, but necessary for teams looking for a competitive advantage.  The fact that Portland owner Paul Allen didn’t sign off on this sooner (Considering his background in technology), is surprising.  But it will be interesting moving forward to see how the Blazers organization incorporates this technology into their decision making.

Now if they could just get their hands on a crystal ball foreseeing players with bad knees, then they’d really be in business when it comes to player evaluations.  For now they’ll have to settle for fancy HD cameras.

C.J. McCollum Popular Among his Peers

The 2013-14 NBA rookie class hasn’t played a single game in the pros yet, but they did take the time to pick their favorites for rookie of the year, best career and best defender among other categories.

CJ McCollum (Getty Images)
CJ McCollum | (Getty Images)

 

Filling out the NBA.com Rookie Survey, the 36 first-year players voted Portland’s C.J. McMollum and Orlando’s Victor Oladipo as the top picks to win Rookie of the Year.  Before the Mo Williams signing, I would have felt pretty good about McMollum’s chances, but now he has to compete with Lillard, Matthews and Williams for minutes.  A tall order indeed.

On which rookie will have the best career, McCollum finished third with 15.2 percent of the votes.  He’s a four-year player who seems motivated and confident he can be an elite player in the NBA.  Seems like a logical pick.

He also finished tied for third for best rookie shooter, but he was nowhere near the best defender or funniest player lists (Because that’s an important skill in the NBA).

These lists mean nothing at the end of the day, but McCollum at least has the respect of his fellow rookies.  Hopefully his play on the court will garner respect from the veterans as well.

Luke Babbitt Finds a Home

You can never have enough shooting in the NBA.  Or can you?  Former first-round pick Luke Babbitt apparently didn’t find any suitors in the league, so he signed a one-year deal with Russian club BC Nizhny Novgorod.

Portland decided not to pick up the option for the fourth year of Babbitt’s rookie contract last fall following another underwhelming season which saw him average 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds  on 37 percent shooting.

This past year was Babbitt’s make-or-break season.  After playing well toward the end of the 2011-12 season (He ended the year shooting 43 percent from 3-point range), Babbitt was primed to have a productive season and there certainly was an opportunity with that dreadful bench.

Luke Babbitt - Getty Images
Luke Babbitt | (Getty Images)

But the former Nevada star failed to consistently produce (Albeit in limited minutes) and the franchise decided they’d seen enough.

A year in Europe might be good for Babbitt.  It gives him a chance to play more minutes and with their style of play over there, he should see plenty of open 3-pointers.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him in the NBA though.  Steve Novak was given a nice fat contract to sit in the corner shooting threes and he’s slower and less athletic than the former Blazer.  I have to imagine Babbitt will find a similar situation somewhere in the states.  At the very least he can be that specialist who comes in at the end of games to win fans free food.  He was always good for that.

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Passionate about movies, sports and writing, Ryan hails from Bend but lives in Springfield now. He earned his college degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and hopes to one day write a novel. He also enjoys sunsets and long walks on the beach.

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