The Phoenix Suns practice facility will be able to measure the arc of a shot

Phoenix Suns, Ricky RUbio (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Ricky RUbio (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns new practice facility will feature all kinds of new technology, one of which measures the arc of a player’s shot.

Don’t tell Ricky Rubio, but his line-drive is shot about to get arc-shamed when the Phoenix Suns move into the new performance center later this year.

According to Suns owner, governor, managing partner (they really need to settle on a name for this position), Robert Sarver, the team’s new practice facility (dubbed the performance center) will be decked out with every piece of basketball analytic and training technology in existence.

While Sarver didn’t want to divulge all the trade secrets, he revealed there are some very basketball-specific technology and equipment being installed.

"We are working with a couple [of] technology partners with the latest not only training and conditioning technology in the building but also tracking while players are practicing, whether it’s their physical exertion or the arc of their shot."

The physical exertion tracking has been around a few years, with many major sporting franchises (especially soccer) and colleges implementing this.

The Phoenix Suns are using new technology help train players.

When you see a male athlete wearing what looks like a sports bra, that’s actually a device that tracks their heart rate and produces data. The thought goes back to the old workout adage, “What gets measured, gets improved.”

It’s easy for a coach to yell at a player and say he’s not going hard, but when the player actually sees the data himself, it becomes hard to argue.

So while I’d heard of this exertion technology, the jump shot arc measurement kind of blows my mind.

I mean, I get it. If we can measure the ball flight of a golf ball traveling 300 yards we should be about to track the flight of a basketball traveling 20 feet at a much slower speed.

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The part that is slightly odd to me is that jump shots are very player-specific. What works for one player, might not work for another. Darius Miller of the New Orleans Pelicans has one of the flattest shots I’ve ever seen, but he still shot close to 40 percent from behind the arc the last two seasons before getting injured.

Then again, Ricky Rubio has an extremely flat shot when he is wide open with varying success, but when a defender is closing out on him with his hand up, it forces Rubio to put more of an arc on his shot and while it would be hard to produce data on this, the eye test tells me those shots go in a lot more than his line-drive, wide-open shots do.

Part of me wonders if technology like this takes away from the natural, organic, and flow of a game to make it more robotic and engineered; that it makes players think too much. Then again, there are very few facets in life where technology hasn’t been a net-positive, so it will be interesting to see how this affects players’ performance and skill.

If I were a player, I’d be more excited about the facility’s gourmet chefs and entertainment areas, but that’s probably reason number 131,779 why I’m not a professional athlete.

The performance center is scheduled to be completely finished in September of this year, which will be just in time for a quick turnaround into next season.

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