Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NBA Shot Maps

The NBA Playoffs are back. Geography professor Kirk Goldsberry has created a sub-genre of mapping-showing the spatial pattern of basketball players. These images from last year's NBA Finals appeared on Grantland's Map of the Stars. While the Miami Heat are not in the playoffs this year, LeBron James plays on with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 Blue hexagons represent areas of below average shooting. Red areas show his sweet spots.

The San Antonio Spurs have had a remarkable run. The 2015 playoffs may be the last to feature this group intact. According to the chart below Tony Parker has few weak areas.

Tim Duncan is a more polarizing figure.
I have not been able to find a comprehensive collection of these charts but they seem to be out there for most of the NBA stars-just search for your favorite player plus "heat map."  For more NBA fun there's this map - from SBNation.
 This map is at least six months old and I suspect he's made it off the bridge by now.

If, like me you prefer hockey, there's lots of this type of thing. Not as pretty but effective. I better hit the "Publish" quickly, button before Pekka Rinne's team gets eliminated.

Sports analytics has become a huge field in recent years. Geography is proving to be a useful in helping figure out how to defend against these players.

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