Thursday, February 21, 2013

You do the Math: Advanced Statistics meets the NBA

By Bryan Ryan

Kevin Durant’s geek-chic isn’t the only thing nerdy about the Oklahoma City Thunder and various other teams for that matter. This is a standard shooting chart used to track how well a player shoots from defined sections of the court, often forty square-foot blocks. Then you have the new wave of shooting charts, emphasizing efficiency and frequency for every square foot of the offensive court; welcome to advanced statistics.

The average NBA fan will likely never look anywhere beyond a stat-line – for example James Harden’s most recent on-court accomplishments (i.e. "Hardens scores a career-high 46 in win over Thunder"). But in trying to build championship-caliber teams, owners need more detailed information. Yes, Harden is averaging 26 points per game this season, a number any NBA executive would drool over, but with advanced shooting charts owners can now directly evaluate how a player would gel with a current roster in offensive sets.

Perhaps most importantly, advanced statistics are Kobe-approved, as the fifteen-time all-star has reportedly used advanced shooting charts to tailor his defense in several games. This is just the surface of advanced statistics, and with analysts being employed by teams, math looks to have a major impact on the near future of the league. Welcome to class Kevin, good thing you brought your backpack!

The Basketball Project 

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