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Where the Heat and Thunder hit their shots
June 12, 2012 9:36 AM   Subscribe

With the 2012 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder starting tonight, it's a great time to see where the Heat and Thunder hit their shots
posted by Cloud King (49 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The players exploding into their shot locations was a nice touch.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:38 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Definitely a stunning way to present the information.
posted by k5.user at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2012


A Heat heat map, if you will
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:45 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

Obviously I love this.
posted by graphnerd at 9:50 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


GO THUNDER!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:50 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Heat-Thunder Finals is definitely bad news for fans of subject-verb agreement.

Not my joke, floating around on twitter.
posted by Fizz at 9:51 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is really cool. I never really thought about the statistical side of basketball, but then again I am a bandwagon basketball fan that only cares when a team I have some connection or geographic proximity to is in a position to possibly win a championship.

Thunder up.
posted by HostBryan at 9:53 AM on June 12, 2012


Huh. What's with the left-right bias for three pointers near the end-line? Is it really that much easier to hit those shots from one side of the basket than another?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:56 AM on June 12, 2012


I know nothing about basketball, but I found the asymmetry of the court and importance of handedness for 3-point shots is extremely striking. From this I had guessed that Chris Bosh and Shane Battier were both left-handed, and it seems to be true.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:57 AM on June 12, 2012


From this I had guessed that Chris Bosh and Shane Battier were both left-handed, and it seems to be true.

Bosh is left-handed, Battier is right-handed.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2012


How the hell do they track these things? I know they also do this for hockey and probably for every other damned sport. But how do they track the player ID and shot position so accurately and quickly?
posted by pracowity at 10:10 AM on June 12, 2012


The Thunder have more shots, more points per shot, and a better physical distribution of successful shots.

Tough call.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:12 AM on June 12, 2012


While I'm not totally sure about this, but regarding the right-corner three, I think it's because most players who drive tend to go to their right, and the defender who is guarding that corner shot has to sag off his man in order to protect the rim, leaving the shooter open. It's obviously easier for the driving player to see and pass to the right corner than to throw across his body to the other corner. The reason this isn't as true going to the left is that a player like Dwyane Wade rarely drives all the way to the rim with his left hand, preferring to spot up for a short jumper, which does not force the defender to help protect the rim.

And here's some anecdotal evidence from a right-handed basketball player, for some reason it feels more comfortable to shoot from the right corner, or at least I tend to drift and end up there more often than the other corner. I'll try to think about it more next time I play.
posted by antonymous at 10:14 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


But it's clear that Battier is dominating from the left-corner.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:16 AM on June 12, 2012


But how do they track the player ID and shot position so accurately and quickly?

Tracking it isn't as hard as you might think, especially if you've got NBA/ESPN money. I mean, my podunk high school could have given you all the same data after the end of each game, and it just took a couple of volunteers, a clipboard with a sheet for each quarter, and and a system (circle when shot taken, filled in if it goes in) and there you go. I'm sure there is some sort of awesome software solution for it now, but

Not saying it's not work, and I'm definitely not saying I don't love the way it is displayed here. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd think that they were deciding the fate of the New York Times today and I had a vote because my biggest reaction (after "neat rollover explosions") was "see, traditional media outlets DO have a purpose."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2012


Is the corner defined as either left or right while facing the basket adjacent the corner or facing away from it?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:23 AM on June 12, 2012


While facing the rim. It's clear that as a team, the Heat are doing better from the right-corner, while Battier is just killing it from the left-corner. Which makes me wonder if the graph is messed up.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:25 AM on June 12, 2012


Back in April I submitted a question to Ask about how to become a basketball fan, and the response was phenomenally helpful.

However, I ended up ignoring one suggestion not to become "that guy" who just decides to become an OKC fan, and I have in fact become an OKC fan. Last night I hooked up an antenna to our TV in order to be able to watch the finals despite having no cable or sattelite service. I figure this will be a great experience...I'll either see my team win the championship the very first time I'm actually paying attention, or I'll have my first taste of massive sports-induced disappointment.

When my eight year old daughter walked into the living room while I was watching my first game via NBA's streaming service, she gave me a massive eye-rolling, and said,"DAD: please don't become a sports geek." Which seems to me to indicate that a cultural shift of some kind has occurred. When I was eight, "geek" was term that would be applied only to a very specific subset of the general population, and nobody with a pronounced interest in sports would've fallen into that subset.

Diagrams like the ones linked to here make me think that my own generation was mistaken about this, and that my daughter, and the peers who taught her that sports fandom is just a different flavor of geek, have got it right.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:25 AM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd think that they were deciding the fate of the New York Times today and I had a vote because my biggest reaction (after "neat rollover explosions") was "see, traditional media outlets DO have a purpose."

Well it's certainly prettier in NYT but something like Basketball Reference can show this kind of chart for any game
posted by Cloud King at 10:26 AM on June 12, 2012


GO THUNDER!

Showing results for Sonics
No results found for Thunder
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I was speaking to the general percentages for both teams from either corner. Not sure why Shane is hitting from one corner and not the other, but he's actually Miami's "worst" 3-point shooter (for a guy who shoots them regularly), and can't do much else on offense, so maybe it makes more sense to park him in that corner while the bigger threats operate?

Also there's another cool site called the Popcorn Machine (link is to BOS-MIA Game 7), which has something called Gameflow, which gives you a better visualization of what is happening while certain players are on the court, and which lineups are effective. 82games also has an interesting perspective on stats which makes it a little more intuitive to figure out which groups of five players perform best together (for example). And finally a company called Synergy Sports does much of the video analysis for NBA teams these days - you can sort a few clips on their site and maybe even order some version of their product to see more. It's really fascinating stuff.

Go Thunder!
posted by antonymous at 10:36 AM on June 12, 2012


What's with the left-right bias for three pointers near the end-line? Is it really that much easier to hit those shots from one side of the basket than another?

It's been a long time since I last shot a three in anger, but I'd think having your shooting hand inside the backboard would be helpful for the straight-on shot. Total guesswork on my part, but I feel like if you're shooting with your outside hand, you're more likely to push it inside. And if you don't, there's a chance of hitting the side of the backboard.
posted by yerfatma at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2012


Which makes me wonder if the graph is messed up.

Battier's chart colors make no sense to me mousing over the actual values. On the left side of the chart where everything's green there's a 15 attempt blob that has an average of 1.4 points per, and a bunch of other similarly sized blobs that are confusingly representing much smaller numbers of attempts with a range of values below that. Meanwhile on the right side of the chart where it's mostly red, the two big yellow blobs together add up to 13 attempts and a 1.6 points per average, whereas none of the small red blobs have more than a few attempts and range between 0 and 3 points per. I think the main problem is that although the colors seem to be averaged across multiple blobs, there are still relatively large seemingly important parts of the chart that have colors representing a very small set of outliers from the data.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:43 AM on June 12, 2012


Salvor Hardin: "Huh. What's with the left-right bias for three pointers near the end-line? Is it really that much easier to hit those shots from one side of the basket than another?"

The three point line is slightly closer if shot from near the right or left baselines. A lot of 3 point guys prefer shooting from either baseline because of this advantage.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2012


To be more specific, shooting from anywhere else on the line, your distance is 23'- 9". From either the left or right baselines, you only have 22' to deal with. Granted it's a slightly higher percentage shot but in the NBA every little advantage counts.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2012


"Huh. What's with the left-right bias for three pointers near the end-line? Is it really that much easier to hit those shots from one side of the basket than another?"

It's because right-handedness is more common than left-handedness.

That's really all there is to it.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2012


It's been a long time since I last shot a three in anger, but I'd think having your shooting hand inside the backboard would be helpful for the straight-on shot.

Doubtful.

It's really more about getting to that spot with the ball than shooting the ball from there. If you're dribbling with your right hand, on the right side of the court, your body is between you and the ball the whole way down the court.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on June 12, 2012


I LOVE the visualization of sports statistics, and that roll-over feature is so cool.

I am so, so excited for these Finals.
posted by sc114 at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2012


It's really more about getting to that spot with the ball than shooting the ball from there.

For threes though? I don't have hard numbers on it but it would seem to me that other than hurried shots with time running out, the vast majority of three point shots are taken by someone who was standing there with their feet set and can take the shot immediately when they receive the pass before the defense can get out to put a hand in their face.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:31 AM on June 12, 2012


See, though, look at the individual 3-point images for the Thunder players. Thabo Sefalosha is really the only one shooting from the left corner, while the others all avoid it (Perkins, for obvious reasons, doesn't shoot 3-pointers at all). But Sefalosha is much stronger from the right corner than the left, though he appears to take about equal shots from both.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2012


Lebron's best shot, with 100% accuracy is directly at the heart of Cleveland fans.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:46 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Completely fascinating. This is one of many reasons I love sports, and statistics, and how often they have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

Anyone else agree that if you were to pick one person to build your team around you'd start with James Harden? The guy has the best Point per Shot ratio of anyone on the court.

I would be interested to see similar graphs and numbers of opposition shooting during the playoffs. Does either team do a better job of forcing their opponents into tough shots, or do both just outscore their opponents while playing weak defense? (I actually don't know the answer to that question, would love to hear the answer from a better basketball fan. I was too busy watching the NHL playoffs, but now the finals have my undivided attention)
posted by jermsplan at 12:48 PM on June 12, 2012


More of Kirk Goldsberry's infographics stuff was posted previously.
posted by spaet at 12:56 PM on June 12, 2012


Yeah, this is pretty cool (<-- wetting pants with tech envy).

I haven't tuned in to b-ball all year yet am somehow excited to watch the game tonight.

Also, my future pony will be name ThunderHeat so please consider that name taken. Thanks.
posted by nowhere man at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2012


Anyone else agree that if you were to pick one person to build your team around you'd start with James Harden?

I think practically everyone would pick LeBron first, Durant second and then Harden or Westbrook out of the players in the Final
posted by Cloud King at 1:00 PM on June 12, 2012


Loving all this basketball on my mefi. If it hasnt already been linkef, there is a link to an overall shot chart in my profile.

Go Heat! Even though KD and the Thunder are going into beast mode tonight and I think will come close to sweeping LeBronBronBron and company out to sea.

The most interesting thing about this finals is this zen thing LeBron is trying to work himself into. Cant wait til tonight!
posted by cashman at 1:09 PM on June 12, 2012


I think the Heat may get Thunderstuck.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:19 PM on June 12, 2012


I'm still unable to catch Thunder fever, even if I live in Oklahoma City. (Give me baseball, especially minor league, any day.)
posted by francesca too at 1:44 PM on June 12, 2012


Anyone else agree that if you were to pick one person to build your team around you'd start with James Harden?

Absolutely not. LBJ is the best basketball player on the planet, and Dwyane Wade is the best 2-guard in the world. Durant is ridiculously amazing and is only 23. When Westbrook gets hot, he is unstoppable.

Harden is at least fifth on that list.
posted by King Bee at 2:13 PM on June 12, 2012


I actually don't mind the Heat, but as a die hard Longhorn, I gotta root for KD. Which, let me tell you, it's a really weird thing rooting for anything Oklahoma when you're a Texas alum.
posted by kmz at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2012


Anyone else agree that if you were to pick one person to build your team around you'd start with James Harden? The guy has the best Point per Shot ratio of anyone on the court.

That's purely statistical thinking that doesn't translate well into actual basketball. Not to take anything away from Harden, who's a great player, but a lot of his shots made stem from the fact that he plays with Durant and Westbrook who draw a lot of defensive attention.
posted by Challahtronix at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2012


The cool thing about this team is that it's not just about KD; it's the way they play as a team. When defense is focused on KD, someone else will rise to the occasion, one night it may be Westbrook, the next night it may be Perkins or Harden, the next night it may be Ibaka. Criminy, the other night against the Spurs, Ibaka hit every single damned shot he took.

THUNDER UP!
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:41 PM on June 12, 2012


That is the coolest matchup graph I've ever seen. HEAT!!
posted by Flex1970 at 5:45 PM on June 12, 2012


I find it way easier to shoot from the right (I'm right handed). I think it's because of the dynamics of the pivot-jump motion. Your weight ends up more on your outside (right) foot, and it's easier to transfer that energy up to your right hand.

This is probably just an indication that I suck for not being balanced evenly on both feet for my jump though.
posted by CaseyB at 6:07 PM on June 12, 2012


I wish they'd included a graphic for free throws.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:57 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


PTI had a funny discussion about which is the more uncomfortable weather phenomenon, heat or thunder.

The heat map reminds me of the increasing influence of advanced statistics in sports, although it's obviously most tied to baseball at this point. ESPN the Magazine devoted an issue to it a couple months back, and had a ranking of how reliable advanced statistics currently are in each sport. I think basketball was up there, but can't remember what the general list looked like.

Boston Globe does have this article on the topic. Best quote goes to Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs GM:

“There has not been a statistical breakthrough in hockey yet,’’ said Burke. “Baseball was made for this . . . In hockey, stats are like a lamp post to a drunk - they’re useful for support, but not for illumination.’’
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:22 AM on June 13, 2012


TheSecretDecoderRing: "Best quote goes to Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs GM:"

The crux of that quote is way older than Burke, even if not rightfully belonging to Andrew Lang, either.
posted by barnacles at 1:32 AM on June 13, 2012


Bill Simmons: Thunder Family Values.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:16 PM on June 13, 2012


Soooo, looks like the Thunder weren't quite ready to destroy Miami like I thought they would. Congrats to LeBron!
posted by cashman at 9:03 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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