Tag Archives: three point shooting percentage

More NBA spatial data

Adrian the Canadian — my designated Deadspin trawler — sent me an interesting graphic by Kirk Goldsberry and Matt Adams showing the highest percentage shooters from various regions of the court. You might recall that Goldsberry presented similar work at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March (runner up for the research award). My take on this work┬áis that, while interesting and impressive in terms of data, much of the spatial variation in shooting could be explained by factors other than location-specific shooting ability (this will sound familiar if you read my post yesterday on player tracking data).

First, random chance is an issue, especially when trying to identify the best shooters at each location. I think Goldsberry requires a certain number of shots for inclusion at each spot, but he doesn’t do the statistical analysis to determine whether the differences he presents are statistically significant (i.e., large enough such that they are probably not due to chance variation). His big surprise — Rondo leading the league in one mid-range zone — is likely based on a fairly small sample of shots.

Second, defensive position is missing from the analysis. A big red flag for this one is that Durant, at only 40% shooting, leads in the three point zone just to the shooter’s right at the top of the key. Every other three point zone has a guy over 50%. Unless there’s something challenging for right handers Continue reading

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Kobe’s back!

Kobe Bryant is all fired up because people think he’s over the hill. I’m not sure he’s over the hill, but I do think that he excludes his teammates and plays macho, low percentage basketball. Looks like the Lakers can expect more of the same, especially with his 48 points last night. Even simple stats suggest that Kobe could play smarter. Despite shooting 46% from the field, he’s only shooting 18.8% from three point range this year on 4.4 three pointers per game (his career numbers, 33.7% and 3.8 attempts, are more reasonable but not great). He’s also averaging 3.9 turnovers per game this season.

Meanwhile, Kobe’s whipping boy Pau “the Gas Man” Gasol is shooting 57% from the field this year and Andrew “Huge Potential” Bynum is at 53%. It’s basic game theory. Kobe should stop taking threes and feed the big men (generating higher percentage shots) until the defense reacts by doubling more. Kobe’s shooting percentage should go up (he’ll be open more), meaning that the shooting percentages will even out at a higher average for the team as a whole. Based on his post game comments, though, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen.