Analyzing Team Chemistry In The NBA


With more and more data available through new algorithms and expert analysis, NBA teams are able to break down every part of the sport into a science. This has been the case for a while now for basic things like a specific player’s shooting percentage against a certain team or from a certain spot on the floor.

But now teams are hiring experts to analyze more intangible things, like player personality and how well certain personalities mix together on the court. Basically, teams are trying to understand what creates good chemistry between players.

This process goes all the way back to the beginning stages of forming a team. During the NBA draft now, teams are considering players not just based on talent, potential, and past performance. Many teams are starting to look at how an incoming player might jell with the existing team.

The New Science Of Chemistry 

Gathering and analyzing data about team chemistry is still in the beginning stages of development. And some say that it is way too early to put much stock into the practice. But in the coming years, coaches and managers may be relying more and more on data about player personality and team chemistry as a whole.

It is easy to see why teams might invest in the technology and resources it takes to map out a team’s cohesion. Anyone who has played on a team or watched a basketball game knows that talent alone doesn’t win games. All five players on the court have to work in concert to make plays, defend the hoop, and put together a win.

It can be difficult to define what makes good chemistry but it’s easy to see if a team has it or not. A team with good chemistry can flow together, understand where each is on the court and how each player is moving. This often comes over time. After playing together for a while it becomes easier to anticipate how your teammates move and what they do in certain situations.

Chemistry This Year In The NBA 

There were shakeups across the league this summer. Many teams are in the building stages, creating and finalizing new rosters, moving guys in and out, trying out different looks and combinations. And some seem to be doing a better job than others.

Any Celtics fan out there know that the return of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving has been an adjustment for the young Celtics team that made such an impressive playoff run last season. Having the two veterans come in and mix with the unit from last year hasn’t been easy. Kyrie is still finding his balance next to Tatum and Hayward is still figuring out how to get back to his old self.

The Lakers are another team that has a lot to figure out. They team is of course centered around LeBron, as their main play-maker. It can be difficult for other high value players like Lonzo Ball to figure out how to play in the shadow of a superstar and support him while also making plays on his own.

But one team seems to have figured out a new interesting strategy.

The New Style Of The Toronto Raptors  

The Raptors are trying something new and unusual this season. Instead of starting the same five players each game, head coach Nick Nurse, has been looking at the data and coming up with the best starting lineup possible based on who the team is playing. Going even further, Nurse subs his players in and out based on when they perform the best and who they matchup well with on the opposing team.

This means that the Raptors’ players have to be more flexible than players on other teams who have more consistent roles. This chaotic approach seems counterintuitive but the Raptors, at 12-2, are seeing good results. The new coaching style may take off across the league, especially if the Raptors continue to perform so well.


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