NBA Launches New In-Depth Stat Service with Help of SAP

The NBA is making the most of the All-Star break with the launch of a new Web site, NBA.com/Stats, that gives fans the opportunity to dive into statistical information, both current and historical, with unprecedented depth. The new statistic service was born out of a system originally developed for NBA teams five years ago (the project began about seven years ago). It was eventually made available to media (complete with video) via a simplified interface that allowed for searching of a wide variety of statistical data points.

“[NBA Deputy Commissioner] Adam Silver asked how come we could not get that service in front of NBA fans, why was it just a tool for the media?,” says Steve Hellmuth, NBA Entertainment, EVP of operations and technology. “So we searched for a partner who could help us present it to the fans.”

That partner was SAP, whose HANA (high availability in-memory appliance) platform allows for data and statistics to be quickly entered into the system, searched by fans, and delivered in a readable, fan friendly format.

“This is a small data set compared to what SAP typically works with but we wanted a large amount of interoperability and the ability for 10,000 fans to be on the sit at once,” adds Hellmuth. “We’re thrilled with the product.”

Among the highlights are every box score dating back to the NBA’s first season in 1946, comprehensive shooting charts for offensive and defensive performance, the ability to see how any two, three, four, or five players perform when on the court at the same time, and other new stats like clutch, efficiency, player/team comparisons, and more.

Steve Peck, SAP, SVP, global strategies initiatives, office of the president, sales, says that the foray is an important step for SAP as it looks to continue to expand its presence in the sports industry. Other SAP relationships include NFL teams, soccer and hockey teams, tennis analytics, NASCAR, and more.

“Our goal is to make the system smarter and faster than it was before and help fans connect,” says Peck. “This is a great showcase for what we are doing in other industries, like processing human genome data. It’s all based on this technology platform.”

Traditional databases have not evolved much in the past 30 years but HANA, says Peck, revolutionizes database systems by not requiring data to be written to a disk.

“And because of the way we store it the user can have instant access to it,” says Peck. “This can be deployed in the cloud and be available on any device at any time.”

The uses of HANA also extend beyond stats for fans. Peck says venue information, like data related to concession sales, ticketing, and more can all be managed in realtime so that the user can see trends instantaneously.