1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

[SI] Could a computer coach an NBA team?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by HMMMHMM, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. HMMMHMM

    HMMMHMM Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,031
    Likes Received:
    597
    [rquoter]BOSTON — OK, so the question in the headline is obviously a ridiculous one. But the subtext at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is that coaches, as in-game decision-makers, do a bad job compared to what a computer could do in that role.

    It’s not because coaches aren’t brilliant at what they do, said Tarek Kamil, an executive director for online strategies at InfoMotion Sports Technologies and a consultant to various college basketball teams. (Kamil gave a brief presentation on simulation models at Sloan today). It’s because no human being, no matter how smart, could cycle through the thousands of variables at play during any given moment in a basketball game and always come up with a decision that will increase his team’s odds of winning that game. And so Kamil thinks that the day will come — sooner than you think — when an NBA team will have an assistant coach sitting on the bench with an iPad or a Tablet and giving the head coach instructions on what moves the team should make and when. “It’s going to be a huge fight,” Kamil said. “Coaches notoriously have a had a god complex.”

    The computer will ideally simulate the outcome of a game thousands of times and produce in-the-moment suggestions — implement a full-court press, play a certain five-man group, take out a superstar whose heart rate has been elevated for too long, etc. That last bit about heart rate isn’t a fantasy, according to Kamil. Teams, right now, have the capability to measure how quickly individual players get tired via heart rate monitors players wear during practice. And Kamil’s company produces a special ball that measures everything about a player’s ball-handling — how high and how fast he dribbles with each hand, the sort of spin he puts on the ball, how his ball-handling changes when he gets tired and lots of other stuff. If you put all of this data together, teams could know at any moment whether Dwight Howard has crossed the line where his fatigue is problematic and whether you should force Dwyane Wade to his right after he has played 40 minutes.

    This is the computer as coach, and if sports really go in this direction (and they already have, to a small degree), human coaches will naturally evolve more into what Kamil calls “father figures” as computer models take over decision-making. Again, this is already being done, though not everyone is in awe of a computer’s coaching abilities.

    At the Sloan conference last year, Avery Johnson bemoaned the fact that in the 2007 playoffs, when Johnson was the head coach of the Mavs, he went small in the first round against the Warriors because the secret advanced stats system the Mavs used at the time suggested he do so. The Mavs, of course, lost that series. Advanced stats also say New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick was right to go for it on fourth down deep in his team’s own territory in a 2009 game against the Colts. The Patriots failed to convert on that fourth down, and Belichick was (briefly) roasted. And Kamil knows the computers will, at some point, tell a coach to remove LeBron James from a game late in the fourth quarter because his heart rate data says he is too tired to play as effectively as the team needs him to. “If the odds say you should take out LeBron James, you’re going to be on the hot seat,” Kamil said. “But over the long-term, you will be more successful if you play the odds like this.”

    During a panel on Friday, Mike Zarren, an executive with the Celtics, said these sorts of advanced models have proven that baseball managers regularly do the wrong things — they order too many sacrifice bunts and stolen bases, for instance. But Zarren said advanced analytics in basketball have so far proven that, in general, basketball coaches are doing the right things.

    Basketball is different from baseball, though. Baseball is a game of discrete, static states that change with each pitch. Experts have already analyzed what managers should do in just about every possible state; if, say, their team is trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh and they have a runner on first, managers (if they want) can already research whether having their baserunner steal second increases their odds of winning enough to justify the risk involved.

    Basketball is more fluid, since fatigue is more of an issue and the game involves 10 guys interacting at the same time. That has led some folks to suggest you cannot use quantitative methods to make in-game decisions the same way you can in baseball or football — that there is too much of a human element to consider, too many “gut feeling” decisions, too many intangibles.

    But a lot of people here believe you can quantify almost anything, including basketball, and that a computer could indeed make a better in-game coach than a human. That would not only change the role of a coach; it would also change things like how a team has to practice. The computer model may suggest your team should start pressing at some point in the third quarter, but you can’t do that if your team doesn’t practice a full-court press in a serious way.

    Kamil predicts that some team will have the iPad/Tablet assistant coach soon, and that will either be one of the teams ahead of the advanced stats curve — the Mavs or Celtics, for instance — or a bottom-feeder desperate for a new edge. He also predicts the league might consider banning this sort of thing.[/rquoter]

    http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2011/03/05/could-a-computer-coach-an-nba-team/
     
  2. pge71188

    pge71188 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Messages:
    2,649
    Likes Received:
    66
  3. HMMMHMM

    HMMMHMM Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,031
    Likes Received:
    597
    I think the Morey connection is interesting in that he might look to replace Adelman, should he be on his way out, with a young coach, who's on his way up. Someone with fresh ideas, someone Morey can work with. Morey's yes-man if you will.
     
  4. AB423

    AB423 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,126
    Likes Received:
    613
    Wonder if that Watson computer is capable of coaching.
     
  5. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    34,854
    Likes Received:
    23,440
    If a computer can beat the chess world champion and win in Jeopardy, I'm sure it can coach a basketball game. The question is, will the players listen to it.
     
  6. apollo33

    apollo33 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    20,254
    Likes Received:
    16,324
    Can the computer get technical fouls and gets thrown outta the game.
     
  7. devilsdandruff

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,366
    Likes Received:
    26
    computer is emotionless. at least for now.
     
  8. Steve_Francis_rules

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 1999
    Messages:
    8,467
    Likes Received:
    300
    This is the same secret advanced stat system that told Dallas that Jason Kidd was a top 5 player in the league when they traded for him, right? I'm shocked that it would cost them a playoff series!
     
  9. Shroopy2

    Shroopy2 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Messages:
    15,883
    Likes Received:
    1,549
    Every industry is the same, including technology - that everyone in it wants to keep it going and implement it into life because its what they're good at. And if they DON'T, they'll be out of a livelihood.

    The bigger concern is not if computers will "take over", its that the people in the tech fields will be jobless if their products are not accepted. Intelligent people are very convincing, and will not have much issue saying YOU are wrong.

    You technically don't need a coach in basketball. Intramural basketball or church leagues don't require a coach, so why should professional sports? I'm not against the idea of not needing a head coach. I'm against believing that we NEED to make the game more technologically advanced. Why have real actors in a movie, why not computer generated images all the time that will deliver each line exactly how you want it?

    Techies have a passive-aggressive "God complex" as anyone.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2001
    Messages:
    42,976
    Likes Received:
    24,968
    Seems like baseball would be the more obvious sport to try this.
     
  11. H-TownBBall

    H-TownBBall Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    Messages:
    718
    Likes Received:
    27
    You may not need the efficient decision-making of a computer coach, but if it does a better job than a human coach, then there will be computer coaches. Teams will do whatever it takes to get an advantage and win. Those that don't implement technology in their decision-making will fall behind.

    The biggest worry with a computer coach is would the players listen to the ideas? Even a cerebral player like Chuck Hayes didn't like that we used a double team to contain Aldridge the other night even though the stats said it was the right thing to do.
     
  12. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    34,854
    Likes Received:
    23,440
    You haven't seen computer generated animation movies?

    Anyways, your analogy is not right. We are talking about computer coaches, not players. A better analogy would be computer directors
     
  13. da_juice

    da_juice Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2009
    Messages:
    9,315
    Likes Received:
    1,070
    A computer can call plays, but I don't think it can rally up the troops and demand more effort like a real person.
     
  14. Juxtaposed Jolt

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Messages:
    20,779
    Likes Received:
    16,554
    This.

    Computers may be more logical than humans most of the time, but the emotional side of the game might be just as important.
     
  15. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    34,854
    Likes Received:
    23,440
    That job can be done by th team captain.

    What the computer can't do, or at least not yet, is read the body language of players and decide who should be on the floor.

    I think the most possible scenario in the near future is computer-aided coaching. The coaching staff having immediate access to in-game data and make decision partly based on the information.
     
  16. fallenphoenix

    fallenphoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Messages:
    9,821
    Likes Received:
    1,619
    great coaches teach you about more than just sports.
     
  17. scolandry1

    scolandry1 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    3,865
    Likes Received:
    3,572
    kim jong-il coached the north korean soccer team in the world cup telepathically.
     
  18. AMS

    AMS Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Messages:
    9,646
    Likes Received:
    218
    A computer could probably ref the game much better.
     
  19. Raven

    Raven Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Messages:
    14,984
    Likes Received:
    1,024
    A computer won't hold a grudge.

    Yet.
     
  20. brantonli24

    brantonli24 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Messages:
    3,236
    Likes Received:
    68

Share This Page