Wednesday October 5th, 2016

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NBA teams will be able to make strategic adjustments faster than ever this season thanks to the league’s rule change on video on the bench.

The NBA has announced that teams will be allowed to use hard-wired connections to view real-time video clips from the bench. USA Today first reported the rule adjustment, which will speed up the video transfer process and allow staff members and players to view plays almost immediately after they occur.

The new rule is the next logical step in an evolving process of video analysis in the NBA. Video has always been a central part of a coach’s ability to prepare his team, evolving from actual game film review to the use of iPads on the benches during games. Before the current rule change, coaches and players could review video clips on the bench, but they had to be brought back and forth from the locker room by staff members.

As Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told The Oregonian, teams are still trying to decide how they will implement the new system. In theory, though, the technology should speed up the chess match between two coaches, make life easier for star players, and help teams find more efficient looks late in games.

The most important use of the video might come in how star players react to the defensive schemes used against them. Coaches could also adjust their offensive plans, asking a star to pass more quickly out of a double team, or to attack a certain defender based on video review of recent possessions.

Coaches may also lean on their new tool late in games. Instead of drawing up an inbounds play off of a gut feel, a coach could look back on clips of the team’s inbounds plays from earlier in the game to see how the opposing team defended them. How long will it take a player or coach to credit the new video system for helping deliver a game-winning buzzer-beater?

As with any rule change, it will take some time to evaluate it. There will likely be some teams that are early adopters, and other teams that proceed more cautiously, afraid that their coaches and players might be overwhelmed or distracted by the extra information coming in real time. Still, the NBA’s new video clipping set up should eventually help coaches and players make more informed decisions more quickly than ever.

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