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Motion, Movement and Identity

Last Summer, during the Sloan MIT conference in Boston, someone made the mistake of informing Stan Van Gundy that Paul George led the league in distance traveled. His response was this: “of what possible use is this information?” It was classic Van Gundy, equal parts serious and sarcastic. Van Gundy was all at once dismissing […]

NBA Week 6 in Review: Philadelphia Wins, Nation Rejoices

The standings are still a bit bizarre like in the crowded west with Portland, Memphis, and a Howard-less Houston team near the top, but the league is rounding into shape. The Bulls are still debilitated and their defense hasn’t recovered, but at least the Cavaliers have found their groove — we need as many great […]

Stat Exploration: Rebounding Impact and SportVU

One of the most widely used stats in the NBA is the grossly misleading rebound. We all discuss how field goals can come from sharp passes, or how a player’s field-goal percentage is lower because he has to take too many of the team’s unassisted shots at the end of the shot clock. Assists are […]

NBA Week 5 in Review: Farewell, November

This is the week of Memphis asserting their dominance, Houston fading without Dwight Howard, Cleveland discovering their mojo, and the Toronto juggernaut being tested with DeMar DeRozan’s injury. Somehow, the playoff standings are an inverse mockery with the Cavaliers, Bulls, Spurs, and Clippers closer to the bottom with Memphis, Golden State, Houston and Toronto looking […]

November’s picks in review

The night before the season began, I made nine bold predictions about how the first month of the season would go.  Some were gloriously accurate.  Others were horrendously off.  Let’s take a look at those picks, their accuracy (or inaccuracy) and what they might tell us about the season thus far. 1. The Los Angeles […]

NBA Week 4 in Review: Small Sample Size Theater Is Winding Down

As we move further and further into the season, the odd kinks at the beginning of the season start to solidify and the patterns are emerging. For some fans, like in Portland and Toronto, this is encouraging, but for others in Cleveland or Charlotte this is distressing. Yet, as everyone has said repeatedly in November, […]

Stat Exploration: Both Offense and Defense Affect Title Odds

One of the most famous cliches in basketball is that defense wins championships. That’s the type of statement that usually gets hacked to death by those wielding advanced-stats swords, but analysis has found time and again that the statement could be valid. With a Cleveland team dreaming of bringing a title home lacking defense but […]

Anthony Davis: A Statistical Anomaly

Something weird happened at the end of the Pelicans game earlier this week against the Trailblazers. It wasn’t that the Pelicans blew a 12-point lead or that they were outscored by 21 points in the 4th quarter or that Anthony Davis blocked a fadeaway jump shot from a guy that is nearly 7 feet tall. It was the weird […]

NBA Week 3 in Review: Chasing Trends

With the Cleveland Cavaliers finding their groove and some crazy box scores over the past week, there’s a lot to discuss, but let’s delve into a few other topics and leave the talk of things like Kobe Bryant to the rest of the media. Doubting Thomas (Again) Even the smartest people following the league are […]

The Catch-and-Shoot Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks have carved out one of the most unique niches in the league over the last two seasons by building an offense that seems specifically built around catch-and-shoot scoring. Through 7 games, the Hawks lead the league in points off of catch-and-shoot attempts by over three points per game, and score over 12 ppg more […]

Stat Exploration: Modeling Field Goal Percentage

With the release of player shotlogs, providing a variety of information on every single shot during the season, there’s a lot of potential for studying field goals. One area of interest is how the proximity of the closest defender affects the conversion rate of the shot. Then, building on some insights there, how can we […]

NBA Week 2 in Review: Is It Time to Panic?

As teams have a few games under their belts, wild projections are being made based on paltry three-game winning streaks and a few surprising wins — or losses. People don’t know if it’s time to panic and a little patience here to led the season unfold would ease concerns. Take last season, for instance. Toronto […]

Stat Exploration: SportVU Data

A few years ago, some mathematically-inclined minds decided to tackle the NBA and mine its secrets — we’ve seen industry after industry taken over by numbers, at least partially, and sports was next. One disciple of Bill James, the father of sabermetrics in baseball, gave everything in the box score a value, summed it together, […]

NBA Week 1 in Review: Welcome Back, NBA

As the sports world is obsessed with the return of Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant from injuries and LeBron’s new team, a few storylines have gone under the radar. There have only been two or three games for most teams, but a few observations are noteworthy — and we have some new toys from SportVU, […]

2014-15 NBA Preview: San Antonio Spurs

Historically, the Spurs title last season is an important beacon in the time of the super-team and all-stars joining forces. It was a true ensemble squad with no one averaging more than 17 points per game or 30 minutes where the only all-star and all-NBA player was Tony Parker, who probably wouldn’t have earned those […]

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