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How the Warriors embrace innovation of Silicon Valley

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Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob

Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) — The Golden State Warriors are undoubtedly the best team in basketball — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson & Co. proved it last year after capturing the team’s first world championship in four decades, and reinforced it this season while winning a regular-season record 73 games.

Now, the Warriors are facing off again in the NBA Finals against a familiar foe, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Golden State’s success has been heavily contingent on the skills of their players, some of it can also be attributed to a five-year bet the franchise hedged on technology. A wager which has likely transformed co-owner Joe Lacob’s team into a perennial NBA contender for years to come.

Lacob and the Warriors were among the league’s first to install cameras at Oracle Arena that track each time a player touches or shoots the ball during a game. During practice, Warriors players wear monitors that measure their heart rates, movement and stamina. And as days pass, the team is continuously implementing new technologies into their everyday routines, including a new “smart” sleeping mask.

In the world of sport where the old adage of not trying to reinvent the wheel is still a fixture, the Warriors are trendsetters in the technology of sports as much as Curry is shooting the three.

“You can play on the probabilities or just stand pat,” says Kirk Lacob, an assistant general manager who oversees the team’s analytics staff and is the son of Joe Lacob. “We choose to take the risks.”

The official transformation began in 2010, when the elder Lacob, a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, and Peter Guber bought the team for a record $450 million. Their purchase coincided with the same time basketball teams had just begun exploring new analytics options for the sport.

Along with the Warriors, the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks began collecting data that stretched far beyond the basic metrics basketball had relied upon since its inception: how many points a player scored and how many rebounds he collected.

Golden State kicked off their efforts by installing SportVU, a six-camera motion-tracking system which hung from the rafters of the arena. The system allowed the Warriors to analyze every dribble and pass each of their players made during a game, along with his speed, distance between teammates and miles run in a game. Reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry, for example, runs about 2.4 miles during the 34 minutes he averages per game.

Now, all 30 NBA teams use SportVU, and every team additionally keeps a specialist on staff who can summarize the data collected — a privilege the Warriors didn’t have when they first implemented the system, they had to learn on the job as they went along. During their first two years using the system, Golden State won fewer than half their games.

In the days since Golden State has learned how to properly collect the data, the team’s winning percentage began to climb consistently. They won 57 percent of their games in 2013, and 62 percent in 2014. Last season, the Warriors won 82 percent of their games, and 89 percent of the regular season which just ended.

Head coach Steve Kerr with players during practice.

Head coach Steve Kerr with players during practice.

The Warriors have been complimented for their unselfish style of play on the court, “Strength In Numbers” is the team’s slogan, and everyone has a common job and role in winning another championship. While the Splash Brothers have been pegged as the league’s premiere marksmen, the Warriors dish the ball so often that forward Draymond Green is considered to be a nightly threat to collect another triple-double.

In sports, the most minuscule movements of a player can speak volumes to his fatigue or potential for injury. The Warriors consider this information as important as any other piece of information they collect on their players.

During practices, players wear a small monitor produced by Catapult Sports that tracks their movements during the session. The monitor is worn underneath a compression shirt between the shoulders, and detects pressure on the knees and ankles, and if players are moving at their usual fitness levels.

“Back in the day, we were just able to say, ‘He’s breathing hard, he might need to rest,'” says the Warriors’ Thompson. “Now [coaches] can actually see if you need a day of rest or you need to go harder.”

Lacob says the information is vital in allowing coaches to monitor workloads and prevent injury to their players.

“You may come to the gym one day and want to say, ‘I’m sore, I really don’t feel like working out,'” says Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. “This will tell you how [you’re] feeling because the data says it all right here.”

Daniel Brusilovsky, who leads the team’s digital and technology initiatives, sometimes takes a lead role in the constant testing and implementation of new products. The Neuroon is a new sensor-equipped sleep mask that helps to combat jet lag.

“I sleep with it every single night,” says Brusilovsky. “We’re talking with the company each day to provide feedback on what’s working, not working and what features they could possibly add.”

Several players on the Warriors D-League team in Santa Cruz often serve as guinea pigs in the testing of new products — the team won the league’s championship last season, as well.

Last season, the Warriors tested smart clothing by Athos, which measures breathing, heart rates and muscle use. The team is currently piloting headphones by a company named Halo Neuroscience that send electrical impulses to the brain to improve muscle memory.

News

Kyle Shanahan confirms the 49ers have moved on to Trey Lance

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SANTA CLARA (Diya TV) — Trey Area is officially here. On Tuesday, San Francisco 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan proclaimed in a press conference that the team has moved on from former starter Jimmy Garoppolo and is looking towards Trey Lance, the 2021 3rd overall pick out of North Dakota State. A massive trade up during the 2021 offseason led to the selection of Lance as the Niners had to mortgage their short term future to potentially secure their long term future.

During the season however, Garoppolo had taken the reins with Lance only seeing time on the field when Garoppolo was hurt. Lance himself also had to deal with injuries but was able to start two games. The Niners made the big trade-up because of Garoppolo’s inconsistency in play and health. A big statement from Shanahan ended any doubts about Lance being the starter or a potential QB battle in camp: 

“We have moved on to Trey. This is Trey’s team. That’s nothing against Jimmy. We made that decision a year ago and we’re going with that. We’re not going to mess around with that anymore. Jimmy understands that fully. That’s a business decision and that’s what makes it not awkward. Jimmy knows we’re going with Trey. Trey knows we’re going with Trey and our team does, and everyone likes both of those guys.”

– HC Kyle Shanahan

It is the end of an era for Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. After the Niners traded a 2nd round pick for him, he enjoyed successful years with the team, including 2019 and 2021 which saw the Niners make it to the final four (and a Super Bowl appearance in 2019). Ultimately, the team felt they needed an upgrade at the sport’s most important position and are now making the switch. 

As for potential trade suitors for Garoppolo, keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks. It would be tough to negotiate with a division rival but if Seattle eats most of Garoppolo’s salary while sending over a high value pick, a deal could get done. Another likely situation is the Niners waiting for a starting QB to get injured in camp (it happens every year) as this will give them an avenue to trade Garoppolo for the value they seek. 

The Niners have officially ushered in a new era and are setting their sights on a bright future led by Trey Lance.

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Basketball

India Rising puts forth valiant effort in loss to Boeheim’s Army in TBT

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SYRACUSE (Diya TV) — With The Basketball Tournament commencing, most eyes have been set on Boeheim’s Army and their path to repeating as champions. However, their first match provided an opponent true to its name: India Rising. 

While one may look at the 90-62 score and disregard the India Rising squad, when watching the game, the team did truly give Boeheim’s Army a run for their money in the first half. Facing a team full of guys who played under one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, Jim Boeheim, India Rising jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and was able to keep pace with Boeheim’s Army for a substantial amount of time. Most people may have written them off early but they kept fighting. They had a clear cut goal to bring attention to basketball players of Indian descent by pulling off a cinderella win and carve a path for themselves. It is clear that they put in their full effort to try and realize those goals.

In the second half, Boeheim’s army was able to pull away but India Rising had made their message clear: Indian ballers should not be overlooked. The box score does not paint the real picture of how much heart, determination, and grit India Rising displayed to get more recognition. General manager Gautam Kapur and head coach Ajay Sharma have done an excellent job overseeing the initiative and giving the best Indian hoopers a chance to shine on a big stage. 

In a 64 team tournament, India Rising stood out and gave a near-professional squad a tough time. For what this team set out to achieve, no heads should be hung low. India Rising should be getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.

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Featured

Sharks make Mike Grier the first Black GM in NHL history

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SAN JOSE (Diya TV) — There is a changing of the guard in San Jose and one that has made NHL history.

The San Jose Sharks have formally announced Mike Grier as their new General Manager, making the 14-year NHL veteran the first African-American to hold such a position over the NHL’s lengthy history. After the resignation of former GM Doug Wilson and the relieving of previous head coach Bob Boughner and his coaching staff, wholesale changes were bound to happen. The franchise, still without a Stanley Cup, hopes to move in a new direction and regain the success they once had.

Grier is part of a family of sports executives as his father, Bobby, has worked as a director of scouting and player personnel with the NFL’s New England Patriots while his brother, Chris, is currently the GM of the Miami Dolphins. The new Sharks GM will follow in his family’s footsteps after playing professional hockey for more than a decade. 

As a member of the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, Grier played a total of 1060 games across 14 years. After retiring in 2011, he sought out coaching roles with the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, before ultimately getting the monumental callback from the San Jose Sharks which would change NHL history. 

One of the primary tasks for Grier as a GM will be finding a new head coach for a franchise in search of stability on the bench. From there, the rebuild will be strenuous with many current Sharks players getting older with the need to infuse younger talent. The Sharks will be picking at 11th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, affording Grier the opportunity to select a potential franchise cornerstone.

After being sunk in no man’s land, the Sharks decided to make a large-scale change to create a new identity and reach the goal of lifting Lord Stanley for the first time.

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