AI in Basketball Talent Scouting. It’s No Longer Only for the Pro Circuit

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ESPN flashes every player’s Statistical Plus-Minus (now RPM) on our viewing screen during the NBA draft. Basketball fans with no knowledge of machine learning are getting into heated conversations about a player’s chances of becoming an All-Star, starter, or role-player. Here is why the RPM is a talking point: it takes each player’s score stats from their 2nd to 5th season and then estimates a player’s impact on his team scoring differential for every 100 possessions.

Sports analytics based on deep learning has permeated all sports and even related industries like media. The NBA even has basketball machine learning analytics helping its scouting department to gain as much information as possible on prospects.

It is not just the bigwigs who have the wherewithal to invest in deep learning in sports. Many tech companies have developed basketball machine learning solutions that help sports at different levels. Artificial intelligence in basketball has percolated right down to talent scouting at school level so that colleges and pro teams can access data to scout talent that they might never have been aware of otherwise.

Basketball machine Learning making a play

5 players step on to the court, each of them has a pivotal role to play and each of them have specialised skills. We’ve had all-time greats at these positions

Magic Johnson at 1 position as Points Guard for The Los Angeles Lakers was the guy with excellent court vision and set up the scoring opportunities.

The 2 position or Shooting Guard shoots from all positions and especially from the three-point range. The skills a talent scout is looking for is superior ball handling, jumping skills, excellent defence with a high free throw percentage. 6-time NBA Champion, Michal Jordan anybody? And Kobe Bryant fans will not let us forget him either.

Position 3 or the Small Forwards are the tall dudes and score like the shooting guards. It is a versatile position and the best small forwards are superior scorers around the rim and beyond the three-point line.

The 4 Position (Power Forwards), usually play offense with their back to the baskets and so they are also the best rebounders on the team. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is the top ranked NBA power forward this season 2020.

Position 5 (