Advances in technology may help the New York Knicks out of the NBA’s Atlantic Division basement.
A microchip device sewn into the practice jerseys of the overhauled Knicks roster will help second-year head coach Mike D’Antoni keep track of who is and who is not putting forth effort in practices.
The device sends a signal to a laptop, gauging effort movement such as jumping, running and contact. The Knicks’ coaching staff looks at the data received to determine the amount of effort players are giving during practices.
Located above the numbers of all players, including key newcomers Amare Stoudamire, Raymond Felton and Anthony Randolph, the system, called LOAD, could be a valuable tool in teaching the young Knicks the level of effort it will take to stay competitive in the NBA.
Featured on NBA TV’s “Real Training Camp” Sept. 28, D’Antoni said the new technology has one player competing for the highest LOAD rating. Recently the recipient of a $100 million contract, Stoudamire is constantly checking his LOAD and comparing it with other players.
Not much was shared about the overall abilities of the system. But I think the Knicks are smart for using this tool. It could be a valuable way to help determine the best use of players, depending on the system’s range of applications.
Assuming LOAD can measure and track efforts, then be broken down during certain times of the practices, D’Antoni could use LOAD in several ways.
How valuable would it be for a coach to know in a tight game the guys who are going to give their full effort in certain situations? Of course, there would be other determining factors, but it’s another way to put the right guys in at the right times.
Let’s say the Knicks need a defensive stop with under a minute to go. D’Antoni and his staff could recall the LOAD data and know that on the defensive end, Ronny Turiaf or Anthony Randolph is more active near the basket than Danilo Gallinari.
It can also determine the best ways to substitute players. It’s understood that Stoudamire will get most of the minutes in the low post. But with LOAD, D’Antoni could see how long backup rookie center Timofey Mozgov can play with his full effort before having to reinsert Stoudamire.
It can also be used as a motivator. Look at veterans Stoudamire and the injured Eddy Curry. Both guys have had disappointing rebounding numbers in their careers (around six a game). D’Antoni could measure the amount of effort each gives around the basket and help to find ways to increase their LOAD.
It could help measure the movement and contact involved in finding someone and boxing them out, and the movement toward the ball when it comes off the rim.
With a LOAD increase in rebounding situations, I bet the numbers would go up. Something the Knicks need to improve on the defensive end to spark fast breaks in their up-tempo style.
As the technology becomes more available—the Knicks are the only known team using it—and affordable, it would not only be beneficial in the NBA, but all levels of sports.
Football coaches could use it to measure who is taking plays off. Distance-running coaches could use it to break down how much effort at what parts of the race determine the best times for runners. Wrestling coaches could use it to help teach young grapplers when and when not to save energy during a match.
The few skeptics of the technology, mostly on amateur Web sites devoted to their favorite NBA teams, think the technology wouldn’t work with veteran teams.
“Now, whether this device could be helpful for the Celtics is a topic for discussion,” one writer stated. “I tend to think that for a veteran team like the Celtics, this type of monitoring and motivation is not necessary,”
The writer does make a point: Veteran players could look at the tool as questioning their professionalism. But during “Real Training Camp,” former NBA player turned analyst Greg Anthony thought LOAD could be used to ensure a full effort in training camps from veterans.
“Veteran guys know how to find the short cut, they know how to send the rookies out for an extra lap or two or make them run with the first team while they sit this one out,” Anthony said.
D’Antoni said the tool is first and foremost about measuring whether players are giving the effort that’s expected of them.
“It’s a way to monitor and have accountability for the guys out on the floor,” he said.
One thing is sure, if the Knicks see significant improvement, you’ll be hearing more about this new technology in the future.
Maybe then, we’ll finally see some defense in the NBA.