The Nets on Wednesday announced a new partnership with Infor, a cloud software company, whose red logo will appear on the team’s jerseys. More importantly, Infor is expected to provide “cutting-edge data science applied to team performance and fan marketing.”
One of the hallmarks of the organization under first-year general manager Sean Marks and new coach Kenny Atkinson is their belief in analytics and a reliance on a “performance team” comprised of trainers, coaches and management. Atkinson was involved in the discussion of the new partnership with Infor and is excited by the possibilities.
“I am a fan of analytics,” Atkinson said Wednesday night. “The challenge for our staff and our department is managing all this information we’re getting. I think they’re going to help us in this area, hopefully simplify things a little bit for us. I think it’s the future. We’re thrilled to have this new partnership. I’m excited that it can help us become better.”
Infor has worked with Ferrari in Formula One auto racing and with a championship rugby team in New Zealand. Asked if he was concerned about the company’s lack of exposure to basketball, Atkinson said, “No, because I think it will be a collaborative effort between the analytics department and the coaches. You find the metrics you’re looking for, and I think the more experience they get, they’ll be more [specific] with the information they give us.”
Ever since Atkinson stressed the need for the Nets to improve on defense, they have made a quantum leap. Over their first 47 games, the Nets were last in the NBA in points allowed (115.2) but are seventh in the past five games (103.8). They have improved in opponents’ field-goal percentage from 25th (.466) to fourth in the past five (.419) and from 24th in opponents’ three-point percentage (.369) to seventh (.314).
“We felt like our defense had fallen off, and we felt like we can control that a little more,” Atkinson said. “If we have a choice of doing two different breakdowns in practice, we’ll probably go to the defensive side.”