Deep analytics has become the norm around sports these days. Advanced stats are all the rage in baseball and are starting to take over sports like basketball, football and soccer as well.
But there’s a difference between tracking, say, the shooting prowess of Steph Curry from 15 feet vs. 17 feet out from the hoop, and what the Phoenix Suns are about to do this season.
That’s because, according to the team’s website, the organization is going to start tracking the number of high fives given by the team in order to attempt to measure team camaraderie.
“We have a high-five stat,” Head Coach Earl Watson said following his team’s victory earlier this week. “I’m being honest with you. This is true. So we want to keep track of how many high-fives we get per game to each other.”
No, we aren’t kidding you, this is actually going to be a thing. A thing that most kids are taught to do as a team-building moment when they are young kids, not grown adults getting paid to play the game.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) October 6, 2016
Before you laugh at this idea, it appears that Watson and others have actually been scientifically interested in the effects of team camaraderie on wins and losses. That includes Cal Professor of Psychology, Dacher Keltner, who took a game for every team at the start of the 2015 NBA season and studied the amount of positive contact made between teammates and plotted it all out.
“Controlling for how much money they’re making, the expectations that they would do well during that season, how well they we’re doing in that game. Not only did they win more games but there’s really nice basketball statistics of how selfless the play is.”
So maybe there is something to a team that shows love to each other when doing well, players actually showing positivity to each other and that translating into better team basketball.
Considering basketball is supposed to be a team sport, getting your team to play as a unit is perhaps a smart idea. I mean, it is just a different method of motivation, a new angle on techniques every coach in the world tries to use on his or her team.
So it will be intriguing to see how this all plays out. Perhaps the team that slaps hands the most will become the team that wins the NBA Championship? Just don’t expect that to the be the Suns in 2016-17.