Cumulative 3-pointers for the Splash Brothers

Tonight is game six of the NBA Finals. If the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics, the Warriors win it all and the season is done. So we almost went an entire playoffs without a cumulative multi-line chart that shows current and notable players. Luckily, NYT’s The Upshot got it done with cumulative three-pointers in career playoff games. That was close.

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Redrafting the NBA, based on past player performance

With the NBA playoffs underway, it can be fun to watch the best players and wonder what it’d be like if they were drafted earlier by a different team. For The Pudding, Russell Goldenberg did this for every player and team since the 1989 draft. Goldenberg made a similar thing five years ago, but this time there’s a team component.

Another five years from now, in Redraft 3.0, I fully expect “better” picks to also consider the team makeup at the time of drafting. For example, check if it makes sense to draft another power forward when you already have a star power forward and need a shooting guard.

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Stephen Curry career threes compared to other players

Stephen Curry is about to break the record for number of three-pointers made in a career. By law, as dictated by sports visualization record keeping, a multiple line chart must be made to show the player of interest compared against others. The Washington Post got it done, along with shot charts and other career timelines.

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How the 3-point line changed basketball

Vox shows how the 3-point line is “breaking” the game.

The basic math says a 3-point shot is more efficient for scoring points than a 2-point shot if the team can make a high enough percentage of attempts. It’s why the mid-range shot has fallen out of favor.

But it’s more an evolution than a breaking. Defense adapts, and then offense adjusts to that, etc. Stephen Curry making double-digit threes is still way more exciting than Curry not making threes.

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NBA carry jobs

With professional basketball, we often hear about carry jobs. There’s one star player who carries everyone else to a championship. Russell Goldenberg for The Pudding looked for the biggest carry jobs in NBA Finals history.

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Stephen Curry’s record-setting month for shooting threes

Steph Curry has been on a tear as of late. In April he made more threes than any NBA player ever has in a month. Ben Golliver and Artur Galocha for The Washington Post provide perspective on just how record-setting Curry’s current play is.

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t satisfying to see half of the comparisons show how Curry has played better than James Harden.

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Basketball court designed as a national park map

Kirk Goldsberry, whose basketball charts you might recognize, made the Naismith International Park Map:

This map blends two of my passions: cartography and hoops. The elevation surface on the map is derived from the most common scoring areas in the NBA during the 2019-20 season. Higher places indicate the areas where NBA scorers scored the most from. Naturally this includes the areas near the rim and the areas just outside the 3-point line.

The original plan was to make a fun map poster emphasizing the best scorers from the 2019-20 season, but the project quickly spiraled out of control as I started to label more and more historic places.

So good.

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Data for all of the referee calls in NBA games

Owen Phillips compiled per game and cumulative foul calls for all NBA referees between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 seasons. On its own, I’m not sure it’s that exciting, but if you’re into basketball analytics, it might be fun to tie in with other data.

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NBA playoff win probabilities, animated over time

FiveThirtyEight publishes win probabilities for NBA games throughout the season. During the playoffs, they show chances of winning each round, and with each game, the probabilities shift. Adam Pearce animated these shifts, from the start of the playoffs up to now.

Nice. The visualization. Not so much the Lakers.

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Looking for similar NBA games, based on win probability time series

Inpredictable, a sports analytics site by Michael Beuoy, tracks win probabilities of NBA games going back to the 1996-97 season. When a team is up by a lot, their probability of winning is high, and then flip that for the losing team. So for each game, you have a minute-by-minute time series of win probability.

Beuoy added a new feature that looks for games with similar patterns a.k.a. “Dopplegamers”.

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