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A ridiculously detailed set of tools based on never-before-tracked data to evaluate the players you know and love

What You Get: 

We are using Kickstarter to raise funds for the first consumer product built with the Vantage dataset. This product is called "ProScout." 

ProScout

ProScout is a professional-grade and dynamic report that communicates the most complete story of players. 

 - How, where, and why do players excel or fail? 

- What unique matchup issues will they face?

- What are the results of past matchups? 

- How is their performance trending in all aspects of the game? 

ProScout answers these questions in more detail and interactivity than ever before.  You can go explore Steph Curry's page at vantagesports.com.

We're excited to build ProScout, but we also wanted to give you access to other products built with our data. At various pledge levels (see below), you can get the following: 

Stories and Insights at vantagesports.com

ProScout will be the backbone of vantagesports.com, which will also include short insights and long-form articles based on our data. 

mockup of front page (yes, numbers are currently fake)
mockup of front page (yes, numbers are currently fake)

Check out our blog to get an idea of the types of stories that are now available. 

iPad Scouting App

The alpha version of our iPad app "Vantage Basketball" is available in the iPad store (password required).  Now you can scout from anywhere along with video clips to help you understand each stat.   

"Scout" on the Vantage Basketball iPad app *Note that Vantage Sports is in no way affiliated with the NBA and therefore only limited video clips for each stat will be available in accordance with fair-use guidelines.
"Scout" on the Vantage Basketball iPad app *Note that Vantage Sports is in no way affiliated with the NBA and therefore only limited video clips for each stat will be available in accordance with fair-use guidelines.

Enterprise Tools

Our enterprise tools give you full access to an almost unlimited amount of new insights along with certain video clips to help you understand these insights. They include a dashboard view of hundreds of new and relevant metrics across all aspects of the game: 

And our search function allows you to slice and dice the data to answer any question: 

Our search feature - "Explore"
Our search feature - "Explore"

How You Get It (Rewards):

Early Supporters - We welcome all levels of support. Your $1 pledge puts your name on the thank-you page of vantagesports.com and keeps you up-to-date on our progress through periodic email updates. 

Fan - vantagesports.com will include free insights and articles and paid insights and articles that only our data can tell. It's like a supercharged version of ESPN Insider.  We expect access to the paid content to cost $4/mo. Your $10 pledge gets you full access for the rest of the 2013-2014 season (including playoffs).  You can also follow your favorite player on ProScout. 

Member - Your $25 pledge pays for a full 12 months of membership at vantagesports.com. Plus the previous reward.  

Fantasy Expert - ProScout will cost $1/mo per player followed.  Your $65 pledge pays for a year of following up to 10 players.  It also gives you immediate access to the alpha version of our iPad app, "Vantage Basketball," available now in the iPad store. Now you can scout and watch video from your couch or anywhere you have wifi.  Plus all previous rewards.  

Scout on the Vantage Basketball iPad App - Get Access Now
Scout on the Vantage Basketball iPad App - Get Access Now

Fanatic - Your $100 pledge pays for a year of following all available players with ProScout as well as all previous rewards.  You will also get early access to ProScout on Feb. 15, 2014. 

Guru - Our in-house statisticians and data experts love to utilize our data to answer unique questions. Your $250 pledge entitles you to a personalized response to up to 3 questions a week throughout the NBA season. Whether it's a trade you're considering for your fantasy team, some insight into your favorite (or least favorite) player to confirm your theories, or an argument you want settled. You will also receive all previous rewards and early access to ProScout on Jan. 30, 2014.   

Collaborator - We love interacting with fans, statisticians, and aspiring professionals.  Your $500 pledge gets you in the middle of the discussion. You will be invited to join a focus group where we discuss updates, ongoing research, and potential areas of exploration. This group will start immediately post-funding. Help us design our next generation of products around your needs. You will also receive all previous rewards. You will also get early access to ProScout on Jan. 15, 2014. 

Innovator - Your $1,000 pledge gives you full access to our database through our web and mobile enterprise tools.  Run unlimited searches and uncover your own insights. You will also receive all previous rewards. Get access to data and ProScout on Jan. 1, 2014.

Highest Denominated Pledge - Our highest donating contributor will join Ryan Blake and other founders for dinner and a game. Talk shop, eat some food, drink some drink. 

How We Got Here:

We're sports fanatics.  And we think we, the fan, can do better than a traditional NBA box score. 

In fact, we think for all the time we spend thinking about this game, that we DESERVE better statistics than what is currently available. 

And so, we've been building a better way to track and report basketball games. 

Here's an example of what we've learned to do. Watch this clip of Chris Paul:

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Now look at the description of this play from the official play-by-play during that time: 

The official box score shows the following: 

Is this the best we can do!? 

Here's what the Vantage dataset says happened on this same play for Chris Paul:

Oh, yeah, and then we tie every data point to HD VIDEO.  

For the initiated, we are like SportVu + Synergy x 1000. 

Yes, it's a ton of data (and video) and we have already performed this level of analysis on hundreds of games. 

(Does this dataset seem too detailed to be true? See FAQ below for information on how we track this unprecedented level of data.)

We take all these data and create hundreds of new metrics that bring new insights.  For example, one new metric we created is Effective Screen Defense Rate defined as percentage of screens defended where no score, open shot or Assist+ is allowed. 

Here are a few examples from the Heat: 

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Our Longer-Term Vision

We want to use these new data & metrics to make watching sports more exciting, to make analysis more accurate and unique, to make debates deeper and more engrossing, to make GM decision-making better, and to make fantasy sports more realistic and addictive.

Informational Parity for Fans

If we are successful, fans will never again be at an informational disadvantage to any exec, player, or media outlet.   

Are you content with data like this:

Or will you demand this?

 Do you want to visit stats pages like this: 

Or like this?

We are proud of our enterprise products, but with your help, we can give everyone access to the insights and stories our data make possible, not just the wealthy (and few) insiders. We have big plans to truly democratize our data. 

Traditional Gaming and Fantasy

Our prediction of traditional statistical outcomes and tips on matchup nuances will help you dominate traditional forms of gaming and fantasy.

Next Generation Fantasy Games

We are also working on revolutionary new fantasy games where all aspects of the game are used for scoring and your team actually plays together as a team as opposed to just racking up individual box-score stats playing on separate real teams.  

Mobile Apps

We have created mobile apps that NBA players love, and we want to turn them into fan experiences. 

Original Programming

We aren't cut out for the anchor desk, but had fun putting together this concept video for "VantagePoint." 

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Additional Sports 

We are already working on soccer and football (e.g., detailed lineman stats, detailed receiver & DB stats, etc.)   

Why We Can Deliver:

Technology Challenges - (a) building a data-aggregation system that would be both fast and accurate, (b) building fast and flexible database infrastructure, and (c) serving tons of data and video.

Cameron Tangney, Chief Technology Officer
Cameron Tangney, Chief Technology Officer

- Having worked with big data issues during his 7 years at Google, Cameron is perfectly suited to deal with these challenges.  

Cassius Butcher, Software Engineer
Cassius Butcher, Software Engineer

- Long walks on Alkai beach.  

Basketball Challenges - (a) taking professional scouting techniques and turning them into discrete and definable events and (b) incorporating feedback from numerous sources within the league into a one-data-set-fits-all solution. 

Ryan Blake, President of Vantage Basketball Operations
Ryan Blake, President of Vantage Basketball Operations

- As the Senior Director of Scouting Operations for the NBA and with over 20 years of experience, Ryan was uniquely prepared to help us create our dataset.  

Communication Challenges - (a) creating the most relevant new statistics and (b) designing user experiences that communicate effectively to different audiences.   

Chase Exon, Editor in Chief, vantagesports.com
Chase Exon, Editor in Chief, vantagesports.com

- A lawyer with tons of writing and editing experience. Taught us all the proper use of serial commas. 

Chase Tangney, Designer
Chase Tangney, Designer

 - Designing our consumer products - doing it well. Experienced designer for world-class brands.  

Numerous Statisticians - We have worked with a lot of statisticians to conduct research and create our proprietary algorithms. 

Operational Challenges - (a) getting all games in HD format cleaned and into the system and (b) coordinating all the moving parts from game time to completion of analysis.

Mark Jansen, Operations Manager
Mark Jansen, Operations Manager

 - Expert at taking disjointed processes and combining them into a well-oiled machine. USC alum, but we got over it. 

Shopping and Waste Challenges - (a) buying enough Costco snacks to keep everyone happy and (b) keeping the trash cans empty. 

Brett McDonald, Chief Executive Officer
Brett McDonald, Chief Executive Officer

- As a father of 4, Brett is an expert deal-finder and trash-throw-awayer. 

Funding Goals:

We are raising $220,000. This will allow us to build ProScout. Exceeding this funding requirement will allow us to build additional products.   

FAQ About Our Data 

1. How did you come up with your dataset? 

We track significant actions and outcomes by mixing traditional scouting methods and clearly defined parameters.  We worked with the best scouts in the NBA, including Ryan Blake, Senior Director of Scouting Operations for the NBA, and brought in numerous NBA teams and professionals to refine the dataset. 

2. Why is it better than SportVu? 

It is much more relevant.  SportVu is simply a vehicle, just like our technology is a vehicle. The destinations are the data and insights produced.  Both vehicles aggregate data - SportVu collects location and movement data only. To even get to our low-level data, SportVu data have to be mined and algorithms created.  They are just now able to recognize (most) screens with some accuracy. We already deliver hundreds of new and relevant metrics in every phase of the game. 

3. Why is it better than Synergy? 

Orders of magnitude more data, far more accurate, better video, more tools. 

4. How do you gather all these data? 

It's a combination of algorithmic (autonomous) collection and human analysis.  Our analysts provide a bulk of the "high-level" analysis (i.e., what constitutes a hedge vs. show in a screen-defense context), whereas we can deduce a lot of the low-level events (scores, game times, possession/chance changes) from computer vision tech.  As we continue to advance this technology, we will automate more and more.  Our analysts are full-time employees that have all undergone an extensive 3-month training process before they begin submitting data. Furthermore, our NBA analysts have been working for almost 2 years now.  

5. How do you ensure accuracy? 

Our verification process is a 4-stage system.

1) Our proprietary analysis software prevents analysts from being able to input bad data. It knows, for instance, which teams are on offense and defense, whether the current play resulted in a score, and who scored if so, and therefore, it won't accept input that wouldn't match up with the parameters it understands.

2) Once all players have been analyzed, we have intraplayer checks that verify agreement among all data sources. For instance, if offense_player_1 is seen taking a shot from location "j", then we verify that defense_player_1 (assuming he was defending that shot) also records "j" as the shot location that he defended. If not, the software flags the discrepancy allowing an arbiter to correct it.

3) Finally, we have an inter-rater-reliability system that requests multiple analysis sessions for a certain percentage of plays. It ensures that our analysis is thorough and consistent across analysts.

4) We have built systems to compare our data output with external data sources (i.e., play-by-play feeds) and to alert us to any issues. As you might imagine, we find that we tend to be correct more consistently than official play-by-play.

6. How accurate are your data? 

More accurate than play-by-play. A recent audit by the NBA league office showed us to be 99.7% accurate. 

7. What exactly do you analyze? 

You can explore a visual representation of our dataset by selecting the image:  

Or watch a video overview:  

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8. Whoa, that was overwhelming. How do you make sense of all that data? 

We understand that diving headfirst into our dataset can be overwhelming. That is why we have focused on turning these data into stories. Here is how we turn millions of data points into relevant content. 

Creating New Statistics 

Our data are extremely flexible, and we can slice and dice the data any way we want. The first step is to create a new statistic from our data.  We have already created hundreds of new, relevant statistics.  Here is what some of them look like on our web-based enterprise tool: 

9. OK, can you give me an example of how a new statistic can tell a better story?

Yes. One problem we wanted to solve was how to accurately judge a player's passing ability. 

Traditionally, the only number used to judge a player's ability to facilitate the scoring of teammates has been Assists. Assist per game/possession numbers therefore dominate the stories we tell about the value of players.  However, assist numbers are misleading in a number of ways including: 

  • they do not take into account the ability of teammates to make shots; and
  • they do not take into account the level of shot defense applied to made shots. 

Using our data, we fixed these problems.  We used two pieces of unique data to create a new statistic called "True Facilitation."  First, we track the level of shot defense applied to all shots. Second, we track all passes. True Facilitation is the number of passes to uncontested shots, regardless of whether the shot is made or missed.  In other words, True Facilitation excludes those assists where the shooter made a contested shot, but includes passes that resulted in a missed uncontested shot.  Therefore, True Facilitation is the best measure of a passer's ability to "find the open man."  

Last year, Ricky Rubio was 10th in the league in Assists Per Game, but he was 3rd in True Facilitation.  

Watching a few of Ricky Rubio's Potential Assists makes it clear that we should stop valuing passers based on their teammates' excellent or poor shooting: 

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This is just one example of how we are changing the game. Check out our blog for more examples of the stories we can now tell.

Got any more questions?  Don't hesitate to reach out.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Surfacing insights from our data automatically will be our biggest challenge. We built Steph Curry's VantagePro report manually by culling broad strengths and weaknesses and looking for the most relevant insights and nuances.

However, we are well positioned to overcome this challenge because we have been working with our data for more than a year and have already created unique algorithms that address player and NBA front-office questions.

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