Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors looks on during the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Amalie Arena on March 24, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Douglas P. DeFelice | Getty Images
National Basketball Association coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors is the newest board member of sports data analytics firm Noah Basketball.
The company was formed in 2002 under CEO John Carter and analyzes shooting arcs and performances of basketball players. Noah’s basketball tracking systems are used by various NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
The company said Nurse would use his NBA experience to help convey “the relevance” of its shot tracking systems for “evaluation and improvement.” Philadelphia 76ers forward Anthony Tolliver is also on Noah’s board.
Noah’s shooting systems range from $2,600 and $4,800. The company makes money selling the systems, activation and data subscription fees. It also raised $5 million in funding this year.
Carter said Noah collected data from roughly 300 million shots from middle school games to NBA teams to strengthen the tech’s efficiency, detecting shots using enhanced sensors. Carter said data has shown attempts with a 45-degree arc are most effective.
“We measure the arc, depth, and the left-right position of the ball as it enters the rim.” Carter said. From these three entry metrics, we can tell you precisely what a player needs to work on to maximize their shooting percentage.”
In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Nurse said Noah’s systems appeared on his radar in 2017 when the company emerged at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference in Boston.
The Raptors pull Noah’s shooting data to analyze players’ performance and help fix shooting slumps should they arise. During the Raptors championship run in 2019, Nurse noted guard Kyle Lowry’s shooting arc was “flatter than it normally was when he makes a successful shot.”
He said Lowry practiced his shooting using Noah to correct the problem. The system “verbalizes the degree of arc” of each shot, “so Kyle would do his workouts with it on and listen. I think it puts it into the front part of his mind to concentrate on [the shooting arc], and he’s getting immediate feedback. A game or two later, he was back to normal.”
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes up for a shot on Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center on March 05, 2020 in San Francisco, California.
Ezra Shaw | Getty Images
The Steph Curry era
Carter said the NBA used Noah systems at its 2019 NBA Combine in Chicago, and the company plans to return to the event.
With the rise of NBA sharpshooting star Stephen Curry, developing shooters is more of a focus in today’s game, especially three-point shooters. Hence, more teams are investing in shooting systems like Noah.
“To me, Curry has changed the world of shooting,” Nurse said. “Young kids go out there and say, ‘This is where Steph shoots from,’ and they start finding a way to make their bodies work more efficiently so they can make the ball travel.”
“It changes spacing. It changes defense,” Nurse added. “It’s changed the game, and I think Steph and the Warriors had a lot to do with that along with the Rockets and their analytics.”
Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors shoots the ball against the Detroit Pistons on March 29, 2021 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Chris Schwegler | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Raptors playing like zombies
Though the Raptors are sitting 12th in the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoff race, the team is one of the better clubs overall in three-point shooting, ranking at No. 13. The Raptors have been plagued by injuries trades and playing games in Tampa Bay due to Covid-19. There’s speculation about the future status of team president Masai Ujiri.
Before entering Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, Nurse joked joked that this season has been “tumultuous.” But the Raptors have won three straight games as they look to stay alive in the postseason race. After the Nets contest, the Raptors will travel to New York to play the Knicks on Saturday.
“I would say we’re zombie-like,” Nurse added. “We’re not going away yet. There is still basketball to be played. We’ve had everything thrown at us this year, but we’re hanging around.”