Nicolas Batum discusses shoulder pain with Trail Blazers athletic trainer Jay Jensen. (Getty Images)
During a panel discussion at the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on how football coaches do (or don't) use analytical information when making in-game coaching decisions, former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards presented a good point: The health of a team's roster — not which names are and aren't on the injury report, but the actual physical well-being of the human people on the field and the sideline — really isn't something fans can't know just watching the team from TV. Interestingly enough, though, it's become increasingly evident that it's not always something you can know in the locker room or at practice, either.
Want to know how serious Mark Cuban is about improving the Dallas Mavericks' visibility into their players' health so that they can not only get injured players back faster, but also prevent health from deteriorating to the point where a stint on the injured list is necessary?
"We're locking up our medical staff to longer-term deals than our players," he said during the conference's opening panel on Friday morning.
(Actually, come to think of it, given the Mavs' "get under the cap and avoid the luxury tax" salary structure and the once-and-future openness of the Bank of Cuban, maybe that's not that big a statement.)
Yes, we've come a long way from the mid-1990s, when — as Stan Conte, the former director of medical services and head athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said during the conference's injury analytics panel — it took 2 1/2 years to figure out how many total player games a Major League Baseball team had lost to injury because there wasn't yet such a thing as a disabled list log. But while NBA teams continue to develop better analytical tools and collect more information about what happens on the court, there's still quite a bit of work to be done on understanding what goes on within player's bodies and inside their heads.
Advancements might be coming there, too, however.
Read More »from Next big thing in NBA analytics might be moving from the external to the internal