The most recent video games are all going for realism. Developers are trying their best to program the most natural conditions one would see in real life into the game.
The way the grass moves while a defender skids over it. The way the body reacts while being hit by a bullet. The position a car will tumble over after getting in a crash during a race. The way the ball bounces off the rim and either goes in or goes out.
You know those kinds of things…
However, certain scouts have noticed this realism part being included in the games and have started to contemplate its potential. Consequently, NBA managers and scouts have started to use the statistical aspect of the EA Sports NBA game and have utilized it to study and draft future talent.
How Does This Work?
Daryl Morey, the general manager of the NBA franchise the Houston Rockets, has explained that he does not play EA NBA, he uses it to evaluate players and situations in which future drafts and trades can be made.
Morey explains that while the game does have incredible graphics and realistic dunks and plays, he values the statistical side which can add an advantage to his team. For example, he would acquire a certain player, currently playing in the NBA, and move him to his team to see how he fairs. He can run plays and let the game engine do all the work while he asses aspects of the player’s game. He can evaluate almost anything that way – long passes, off the ball shooting, handling, floor spacing, everything. That way he can asses if the player is worth to draft for.
Daryl also explains that he does the same with future prospects. Arranging a draft in order to reflect the real-life situation will help him determine which is the biggest talent in the class. Not only that, but he can also see if a certain player fits well with the team, on which level a player can impact the franchise, and generally is he a star or a bust.
Daryl Morey is a self-proclaimed statistical junky and a math nerd which helps him see the side of the game that not many are able to see.
The Future of NBA Scouting
So what does this hold for the future of NBA scouting and generally sports?
The answer is hard to predict but it certainly means a lot.
Daryl Morey is not the only GM who has started using this method to evaluate future talent and trade opportunities. Out of 30 teams in the league, more than half have started using this method. And it is all thanks to the incredible engine and the programmed simulator of the game which seems to be doing wonders. However, all of this requires analysis and statistical evaluations from the developer’s side. They too employ their people who essentially do the job for the GMs as they need to evaluate the players before they are added to the game.
I guess this is a good thing both for gaming and sports. Games are becoming incredibly sophisticated and realistic and there is no problem with scouts seeing the bigger picture and utilizing it to their advantage. We might be seeing more of this in the future with other games as well.