How men’s college basketball teams are using outside analytics firms to find an edge

During the Big 12 tournament semifinals, Kansas guard Remy Martin took a mid-range fadeaway from about 17 feet. How the coaches on each bench felt about that shot when it left his hand varied, based on their reliance on analytics.

If they subscribed to the website hoopmath.com, for instance, they would know that a 2-point jumper from Martin went in at a 47.1 percent clip. If they were on Synergy, which tracks every shot and play type in each game, they’d know that Martin made 49.2 percent of his jumpers off the dribble and shot 50 percent on jump shots from 17 feet to the 3-point line. Since the jumper occurred in a Big 12 game, the Jayhawks coaches could assign a value to it using ShotTracker. That company, which is located in Merriam, Kan., has a chip in the ball and inside the jersey of every player. At ShotTracker headquarters, the game plays out with the players showing up as dots on a screen. Kansas coach Bill Self helped come up with what statistics — like paint touches and ball reversals — that the company tracks.

The KU coaches also had at their fingertips analysis from Jam Basketball Intelligence, a third-party analytics company, which provides opponent and self scouts. JBI’s report on Martin said he made 55 percent on those type of shots last season and was 13 percent better on contested looks verse uncontested. And if the coaches subscribed to ShotQuality, which gives an expected value of every shot taken in a basketball game, they’d know that shot was worth about 0.58 points.

Simon Gerszberg, the creator of ShotQuality, used that Martin field-goal attempt as part of his presentation for prospective clients this offseason.

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