Future of NBA Stats in Mapping

Future of NBA Stats in Mapping

The world of sports geekdom has always been about the numbers. Increasingly, though, it may be about the maps.

Many basketball statistics focus on discrete events — whether a player made a shot, or blocked one. But doesn’t it matter where those events happen?

Kirk Goldsberry, a visiting scholar on geography at Harvard, is one of the people at M.I.T.’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference dabbling into sports after developing skills in another field. He has worked as a professor, and creating maps that give insight into public health issues.

He set out to answer who was the best shooter in the N.B.A., a quality that traditional metrics like shooting percentage do not fully address. (Tyson Chandler currently leads the league in field-goal percentage, for instance, largely because he specializes in the kind of jump shots that end with both of his hands touching the rim.

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