Defending Data: Chris Bosh Talks Analytics
Education and Careers The Miami Heat’s Power Forward holds court on the analytics that impact his play on the NBA stage, as well as the technology opportunities he’s interested in off the court.
Mediaplanet: How were you first introduced to utilizing basketball analytics?
Chris Bosh: I was first introduced to analytics back in Toronto. We used the application Synergy to watch game film of ourselves and of other teams. At the time, that’s all we used it for. I didn’t know that it had so much more to offer with all its capabilities. I later got registered for an account and started using it, and I saw what it could really do. There were many more tools and information that were available within the app.
MP: What tools do the Miami Heat provide to review your own analytics?
CB: They give me the tools necessary for scouting other players and other teams before the games. Whatever information we need, they can give us. I always ask for a little more in-depth info, but we have guys that can get me film, or just numbers and names on a piece of paper at any time.
MP: How did basketball analytics help you to approach games differently?
CB: I think your style of play should always stay the same, especially if you’ve had success in what you’ve done. I use it as a tool to know where my weaknesses are in order to work on them, to complement my strengths. If you’re a shooter, keep shooting. If you’re good in the pick and roll, keep running the pick and roll.
I’m able to approach the game armed with a little more knowledge than only constantly watching film can supply. I mainly use it for defensive purposes—to scout the guys I’ll be defending. It helps me know what their go-to moves are throughout the game and especially in crunch time. Armed with that knowledge, I try and always take their best move to make them take a lower-percentage shot when it counts.
MP: On the court, how do you balance what the data tells you versus having a natural feel for the game?
CB: Having a natural feel for the game will always be the most important in sports. The data is there to help, but only as a tool. When you’re playing the game, only the game should be on your mind. If you’re thinking about numbers when you should be thinking of only playing you will fail, because things will pass you by while you’re thinking too much. That’s what makes sports great. You have to go out there and read and react quickly. The numbers just tell a story in the aftermath.
MP: How are basketball analytics changing the NBA?
CB: I think everyone can see the changes analytics are making with three-point attempt records being broken year after year. There are so many other areas it is affecting the as well, such as less mid-range shots being taken and the spread four evolving to pretty much every team in the league. Everyone wants to spread the floor and play faster in order to gain more of an advantage to score more points. It’s very fascinating.
MP: Can you speak to why you’ve advocated for kids getting into coding and other data science professions?
CB: Coding is extremely important, because it’s everywhere around us. No matter what company or corporation exists or is made, technology is involved. They all have websites. Some have apps and all want to keep up with their customers, bank accounts and internet connections to properly be effective. This is where people who have coding skills can thrive. There will be more jobs in the near future than our kids can fill and we shouldn’t have to outsource to other countries to fill every job needed. The demand will be evident.
MP: What other tech-related initiatives are you currently involved in?
CB: I was just involved in the eMerge conference for tech business here in South Florida a few weeks ago. I was on a panel with other judges to pick a company who had the best presentation, and who we felt had the most upside. The winner got a small amount of funding and, in turn, we received a piece of their company for our investment. The company that won was a company called VSN Mobile, out of Fort Lauderdale.