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SportVU is a software system that uses cameras to track the motion of play by recording the X, Y and Z co-ordinates of specific objects 25 times per second.

The system

NBA teams use six strategically placed cameras, installed in arena catwalks, to track the movements of the basketball and every player on the court.

The data

The data collected provide an innovative breakdown of speed, distance, player separation and ball possession. The resulting information goes far beyond the basic numbers of points, rebounds and assists.

SportVU and the Raptors

In one of the more interesting uses of the technology, the Raptors’ analytics team uses complex code that turns all of the co-ordinates into animations, recognizes all sorts of gameplay dynamics (e.g. pick and rolls), and factors in the skill set of each player. From there, the team is able to create ‘ghost players’ that show what players should have done on any given play.

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