While many teams still use PCs and laptops to view their statistical analysis, game reports and player evaluations, players, coaches and front office personnel are discovering the portability of iPads is speeding up the flow of team-wide communication like never before. “We use it for everything. We put our whole playbook and rulebook on it,” said Washington Wizards assistant coach Ryan Saunders, whose father, head coach Flip Saunders, unofficially made the team the first known NBA franchise to use iPads for team operations. “Our whole calender is mapped out. Guys can know when buses are leaving, when planes are leaving.”
There may very well be far more teams who use iPads than what was admitted to SLAMonline. For instance, XOS Digital, a software development firm co-headquarted in Orlando and Boston, works with 11 NBA teams on a number of products. Most notable among those products is XOS Thunder, a four-part editing and scouting tool that includes the Playtools diagram program. Also used in the NFL, Playtools enables teams to compile video playbooks, said Blaine Patterson, the basketball marketing specialist for XOS Digital. “The idea is it being a replacement for paper playbooks where a coach, from his Thunder machine, can draw up all the plays, organize them into what we call binders, which are just groups of plays, upload them to a secure server and then each player can have his individual log-in,” Patterson said. “He can log in to his iPad and immediately view the plays the coaches have drawn.”
While teams can visit Synergy through their iPad, they haven’t been able to view video on the site through the device. That’s about to change, Barr said. “The next step that Synergy is taking – we’re building it right now – is an HTML5 video player so that you will be able to also play the video on the iPad,” said Barr, who hopes that system will be released by the NBA Draft. And that would help Cho, who said that he would download the Windows Media files off of Synergy’s website and use third-party software to convert it to an iPad. Even though that process takes Cho and his staff 25-30 minutes, Synergy’s emergence toward iPad-enabled video should make it more efficient for a video coordinator to collect edits for players. Patterson said video coordinators have been asking XOS Digital for HD-quality editing systems, which they’ve provided with Thunder. A complement program to that, XOS Lightning, will also enable basketball video coordinators to wirelessly provide video highlights to their players.