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Machine Learning in the NBA

· NBA,Sports Technology,Sports,Sports Business

Machine Learning in the NBA

The immense innovations from machine learning have been vital for improving data analytics in sports.

Over the years, The National Basketball Association (NBA), has seen data analytics expand like never before, showcasing how significant machine learning has now become. The need for machine learning in sports seems to be a trend that is growing rapidly, which creates opportunities for new markets to be developed, and ultimately more wealth for the economy.

In the text, “Data analytics have made the NBA unrecognizable” by Dan Kopf, the main point of interest focuses on how machine learning has impacted the NBA, massively changing how data was once analyzed. Based on the article, this change in analytics has led to a difference in the way the NBA game is being played currently and also how a player’s health was once diagnosed, which from this occurrence a player’s tenure can increase. The increase in players longevity correlates to the competitiveness of the game increasing as well, leading to a heightened experience for fans and continuous revenue growth.

The NBA’s utilisation of machine learning more for data analytics has helped to develop a precise idea of a player’s strengths and weakness. According to Dan Kopf, “Using the granular tracking data, analysts can now identify which players are best at altering or discouraging the most efficient types of shots (three-pointers and dunks).” (Kopf, 2017, para. 6).

This articulation relays that one vital advantage from using machine learning is to develop players better than before. The result from increasing the development of players will certainly help to make the game more entertaining to watch, and with more viewers tuning in the chances of revenue growing expands. Another riveting point expressed about machine learning’s impact on the NBA was how it can monitor a player’s fatigue level, helping to reduce the risk of injury.

The importance from this new innovation can be understood from the articulation, “Nearly every team in the NBA now has data analysts on their staff who work with coaches and player evaluators to maximize individual athlete’s talents and identify undervalued players. Many players use wearables and sleep monitors to track their fatigue levels in order to avoid injury.” (Kopf, 2017, para. 2).

A reduction in the amount of injuries, ultimately will help to enhance the live entertainment aspect of the NBA tremendously, as popular players will miss games less frequently. Paying to see an NBA game live while the top talent is not playing can be a hard sell for the fans. Especially when considering the cost of bringing a family of 4 to a game, feeding them dinner, parking, etc. To keep basketball fans attending these games and paying more every year for the experience, marquee players must be available to draw in the fans. Machine learning’s contributions to the NBA will keep their aging stars around longer and draw in more attendance benefiting the league tremendously.

Written by Jordan Martin & Edited by Alexander Fleiss


Kopf, Dan. (2017). “Data analytics have made the NBA unrecognizable” Quartz. Retrieved from

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