Some players take extra jump shots, as many as 500 makes per day. Some players do extra dribbling and other ball handling drills. Some players resort to weight training of some magnitude. But some of the special players around the league are taking it to the videotape. Twenty-seven year old Virginia native and University of Georgetown graduate, Justin Zormelo started a company called Best Ball Analytics which is geared toward helping players become smarter and more efficient through video analysis and smarter training. It kind of reminds one of the late great John Wooden’s quote, “Never mistake activity for achievement.” And like TNT commentator and former NBA 2 time champion, Kenny Smith says, “You can spend 2 or 3 hours practicing, but it could be the wrong 2 or 3 hours.”
In this day and age of athletes hailing from two extremes – the ones who don’t work hard on their craft and those who do – Oklahoma City Thunder, perennial all-star and two-time back to back NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant has taken to Best Ball Analytics, “I wanted to give it a try to see what it was like and I really liked it. I started using it this year and I was able to see my mistakes in what I call the ‘truth box’. I’m always looking for ways to make myself a better player. It’s very important and very helpful to me and crucial to my improvement as a player,” he says.
In accordance with the program, Durant (aka KD) receives reports and insight year- round to help him become the best basketball player and one of the most talented young, accomplished players the game has ever seen. He’s able to focus on his weaknesses in certain areas as well as strengths of not only himself but also of his opponents. He’s also able to scrutinize and analyze a shot chart to gauge his percentage of certain shots taken during certain game situations.
“My mission here is to try to help make players as efficient and as well prepared as possible to help give them all as much of an advantage as they can get, and that is an everyday process,” Justin says.
Justin, while attending Georgetown, was a ball team manager. He was there from 2002-2006 working with the likes of Roy Hibbert, Jeff Green and Michael Sweetney. Justin says, “Our clients receive insight and information based on their skill level and position on the court that’s geared toward them as individuals. Each client receives their very own interface where files are sent to them with memos and videos that are geared towards specific needs. Improvement, progress and perfection are really the heart of the matter with our training program.”
Perfection is also something that Justin was able to learn while working from not only under the hands of Georgetown coach John Thompson III, but also under the iconic Pat Riley and current Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra. While he was with the Chicago Bulls, Justin worked with legendary coaches Del Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff. And, of course, Dwayne Wade and reigning MVP Derrick Rose were on those two teams respectively.
Durant isn’t the only two-time scoring champion that Justin has worked with: former all-star Tracy McGrady has also used the services of Best Ball Analytics and has had favorable results. “He seems to know everything about the game of basketball. I met him over this past summer and found him to be very helpful. He knows how to give a player the edge he needs,” McGrady said.
Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons also experienced Justin’s work. In fact, it was while he was with the Bulls that Gordon formed a relationship with him that led Gordon to bring Justin to Detroit. “I saw the work he was doing with BG (Ben Gordon). It’s a good thing, what he’s doing,” McGrady said.
In the end, Justin says, “So many players that we come across don’t reach their potential as a player because they don’t prepare themselves to be successful. Being a good athlete or basketball player isn’t enough. You need someone to help guide you through the process in helping you develop your game. Players at all levels have cited advice from other experienced players.”
The overwhelming consensus of those who have used the program has been a delicious desert type of good, despite what they see of themselves on film. This is especially refreshing when these athletics are so accustomed to people telling them how great they are or when one looks at the ‘truth box’ as Durant calls it, and sees their own flaws and are willing to correct them for their own betterment. It’s a sign of maturity and Best Ball Analytics helps is an assist in that process.