Statistical network of basketball

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

By now, everyone’s heard of Moneyball. Applying statistics to baseball to build the best team for the buck. Naturally, there’s a lot of interest these days in applying the same data-based philosophy to other sports. Jennifer Fewell and Dieter Armbruster used network analysis to model gameplay in basketball.

To analyze basketball plays, Fewell and Armbruster used a technique called network analysis, which turns teammates into nodes and exchanges — passes — into paths. From there, they created a flowchart of sorts that showed ball movement, mapping game progression pass by pass: Every time one player sent the ball to another, the flowchart lines accumulated, creating larger and larger and arrows.

Using data from the 2010 playoffs, Fewell and Armbruster’s team mapped the ball movement of every play. Using the most frequent transactions — the inbound pass to shot-on-basket — they analyzed the typical paths the ball took around the court.

The challenge with basketball is that play is continuous, whereas baseball events are discrete, so you can’t apply the same methods. But if you can model the game properly, you know where to optimize and areas that need work.

Favorites

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.

19 Maps That Will Blow Your Mind and Change the Way You See the World. Top All-time. You Won’t Believe Your Eyes. Watch.

Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.

Years You Have Left to Live, Probably

The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.

Real Chart Rules to Follow

There are rules—usually for specific chart types meant to be read in a specific way—that you shouldn’t break. When they are, everyone loses. This is that small handful.