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Tommy Sheppard on SportVU data: 'You better know what you want'

In advance of this week's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (which Amin is attending), Slate came out with a pretty silly* article about how data has become so proprietary that it's neutered the academic study of these concepts. In the piece, Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards' longtime vice president of basketball administration, gives an interesting quote about SportVU, the camera service that the Wizards and 14 other teams use to track pretty much everything that occurs on the floor in a given game.

"It's like saying you're going to Wal-Mart or Ikea to get something," offers Tommy Sheppard, the Washington Wizards vice president of basketball administration. "You better know what you want, or you're going to walk out with a ton of shit."

That's about a good an analogy as I've heard from anyone.

*: Why did I think the piece was silly? All this time, fans want their teams to embrace "advanced stats," whatever those are. Now that they have in the NBA, it's suddenly a problem that they want to keep the data to themselves? We can't have it both ways, folks.