Excitement (and a little anxiety) is sweeping through the OpenText Analytics office – home of the Data Driven Digest – as the Golden State Warriors make their first run at the NBA Finals in 40 years, facing the powerful Cleveland Cavaliers. (We’re overwhelmingly Warriors fans here in the San Francisco Bay Area, if you must ask.) It’s been great – and occasionally heartbreaking – to watch these two awesome teams battle it out. Also great: the number and quality of data visualizations that fans and journalists have created to analyze the NBA this season. Here are three favorites.
At Grantland, Kirk Goldsberry published a detailed analysis of Golden State MVP point guard and fan favorite Stephen Curry just before the Finals began. Specifically, Goldsberry dissected Curry’s jump shot, saying “Curry is taking the familiar mechanics of shooting to incredible new heights, and he’s turning the basketball court inside out as he does it,” and declaring him “the avatar of a new, long-range NBA.” Goldsberry uses a handful of charts (along with some entertaining Vines) to support his arguments, including the beautiful example above. The Data Driven Digest highlighted a similar chart – also by Goldsberry – about Anthony Davis back in February.
The NBA’s investments in data collection are helping fans see the game in totally new ways. Michael Beuoy (@inpredict), author of the fascinating sports analytics blog Inpredictable (and a fan of Goldsberry), has plumbed the depths of data from the NBA’s SportVU motion tracking system to analyze the trajectory of basketball shots in three dimensions. Beuoy explains his new method of analysis – which he calls ShArc, for Shot Arc analysis – in a detailed and thoroughly linked blog post. He analyzed 33,000 free throws with his technique, and compares “high-arc” shooters (like Stephen Curry, whose free throw arc is shown above) with line-drive shooters. His next step: to explore other ways ShArc analysis can be applied. Stay tuned.
It’s tempting to make the NBA Finals into a competition between two stars, Steph Curry and LeBron James. In a world of social media, that competition isn’t just on the hardwood; the two also compete in the Twitterverse, as shown in the interactive visualization above which plots Twitter mentions of the two players over time. (Be sure to click on the six round photos across the bottom as well.) The visualization was made using Twitter Reverb, a tool created by Twitter data scientists and Periscopic. Learn more about Twitter Reverb in this article on Source, a website for data journalists and developers. Click here for some other examples created with Twitter Reverb.