Data Journalism Basketball Articles

Evolution of NBA

Vivek Datta ◆ August 18, 2018


As the NBA season will soon begin, there is currently not a better time than now to reflect on the state of basketball and its evolution from its relatively overlooked merger with the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1976 to the media and cultural juggernaut it is today. While the Golden State Warriors are enjoying a reign of dominance that places their roster among the greatest of all time, teams across the league are increasingly relying on experimentation with lineups, strategies, and players to create free-flowing offenses and strong team defensives, a phenomenon reflecting the transition to “positionless basketball”.

This style is an incredibly far cry from the NBA of recent decades, in which legendary teams such as the Bulls, Jazz, and Rockets of the 90s as well as the Lakers, Celtics, and Suns of the 2000s played in strict routines such as the triangle offense and...Continue Reading

6th Man Like Lou Will

Stephen Chien ◆ July 31, 2018


There are many players in the NBA that can pack a scoring punch. When we think of efficient scorers with lots of firepower, names like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and James Harden come to mind. However, there are many other players that have shown the capabilities of being an elite scorer, but fail to do so consistently. JR Smith, Dion Waiters, and Lou Williams are some of these players that are well-known for providing an inconsistent spark of offense, but can still provide a lot of value to a team.

In the games where Williams missed his first field goal (11 of 15 games), he averaged 11.91 points, 2.36 assists, and 3.54 rebounds per game. However...Continue Reading

Technically Speaking, There’s More To The Story

Aaron Mamelak ◆ May 23, 2018

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In the NBA, there are good plays and there are bad plays. Simple as that. No ifs ands or buts about it. And if you disagree with me, you must be one of those phony “data analytics” guys who have nothing better to do than hide behind your laptops and ruin the sanctity of the game I love. Seriously though, what is up with you people? All you ever do is try to confuse the world into thinking you know something they don’t with big words and complex data sets. Well guess what? I’m not buying it. News flash to all you so-called “experts” out there: the only word I know is ‘truth’. And truth is, scoring points is a GOOD PLAY and getting a technical foul is a BAD PLAY. Take that for data! ... Continue Reading

Kobe vs LeBron

Suchir Joshi ◆ March 23, 2018


Who’s the better basketball player: Kobe Bryant or Lebron James? This is the basketball debate of our generation that has divided fans and pundits alike. Each player has woven their legacies into the fabric of our memories. Who can forget Kobe’s 81 point masterpiece against the Raptors in 2006, or Lebron’s chasedown block against the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals? However, as this is a statistical piece, it’s best to disregard nostalgia and focus on the objective statistics. Ultimately, the numbers don’t lie, and these numbers will demonstrate that Lebron James is the greater basketball player... Continue Reading

The Number One Pick

Anoeil Odisho ◆ January 30, 2018


This offseason has been one of the most eventful in recent NBA memory. Notable NBA stars that defined their franchises left their teams for new opportunities. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony joined the Thunder after leaving the Pacers and the Knicks, respectively. Chris Paul left the Clippers to join the Rockets while Gordon Hayward decided to start a new journey with the Celtics. In the biggest trade of the offseason, Kyrie Irving left the Cavaliers to join the Celtics and play with Gordon Hayward, with Isaiah Thomas going in the opposite direction. The offseason was dominated by huge player moves, but also by one of the most exciting NBA drafts in recent memory.

This NBA draft was particularly notable, not only because of the loud antics of the Ball family, but also because of the huge potential running deep throughout the draft. This hype... Continue Reading

How Bad Has Tanking Gotten?

Daniel Waldman ◆ January 29, 2018


One does not have to look far to see the effects of what is seen as increased tanking on the NBA over the last few years. Tanking, deliberately losing in order to either keep an insufficiently protected draft pick or just to improve a team’s draft position, has taken an increased role in criticism of the league. The Philadelphia 76ers and GM Sam Hinkie, after a disastrous trade for C Andrew Bynum in 2013, embarked upon a strategy that became the high-profile, worst-kept secret in the league: they would intentionally lose, indefinitely, in order to hopefully amass the collection of affordable, homegrown superstars integral to all modern championship teams.

The strategy predates Hinkie’s 76ers... Continue Reading

Is Luka Doncic the Early Favorite to go #1 in the 2018 NBA Draft?

Jake Hyman ◆ November 3, 2017

Luka Doncic is an 18 year old 6’8 guard from Slovenia who currently plays for Real Madrid in Spain. Donic has been playing in the Euroleague, which is the top tier of European basketball, since he was 16 years old. Doncic’s production at his early age is unprecedented among European prospects.

Last season, playing half at the age of 17, Doncic was the only Euroleague player to average at least 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per 40 minutes. Based on a translation of ACB to NBA statistics, Doncic already projects as an average NBA player at the age of 18 with a per-minute WAR of .488. The NBA average is .500. Doncic was even better in Euroleague play where his .595 player win percentage was the best among any regular player... Continue Reading

The Best Point Guard

Armaan Kohli ◆ November 1, 2017

A big debate throughout the years of the NBA has been about determining who the best point guard in the league is. Among the top players of this position, we have Russell Westbrook, who relentlessly attacks the basket to create openings for his teammates, James Harden, who orchestrates Houston’s fast paced offense by getting out in transition, Stephen Curry, who creates space for his teammates through his mere presence, John Wall, who opens up the court with his speed, and Chris Paul, who controls the offense with his excellent ball handling and court vision. However, it is very difficult to compare these point guards because of how they all perform their jobs as floor general differently. So, in order to provide a statistical basis to compare these guards, we will look at these players affected their team stats from the 2016-17 Regular Season in Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) and Offensive Rating (ORtg). Continue Reading

Sir Charles Thinks the NBA is Trash

Kousha Modanlou ◆ April 10, 2017

The NBA commentators on the TNT program are known for their fair share of bold claims and humorous, sometimes even outrageous, statements. Charles Barkley comes to mind as one of the pundits who makes such statements without the need for much proof behind them, other than his large gut feeling. One such argument which Barkley time and time again proposes is that the NBA, “is the worst it’s ever been from top to bottom.” This is an interesting notion, so let us break down this statement in terms of statistics. We shall use Barkley's MVP season (1992-1993) as the standard for when the NBA was at a high tier of competition and compare it to the current season. Continue Reading

Are College Freshman the best prospects?

Stephen Chien ◆ March 30, 2017

In the present-day era of college basketball, John Calipari, one of the most influential basketball coaches in the nation, has spearheaded the movement of the “one-and-done rule”. In 2005, the National Basketball Association created a rule where players had to be one year out of high school in order to be eligible for the Draft. Nowadays, many coaches, such as Calipari, are trying their best to send college freshmen to the NBA. The University of Kentucky, where Calipari coaches, has made this a system in the last few years in basketball, completely transforming their roster year after year. Calipari’s reputation stems from the fact that he has constructed elite teams each season and allowed the potential of many of his players, who are mostly first-years, to shine in a way that NBA scouts appreciate... Continue Reading


Saksham Pruthi ◆ March 17, 2017

Unlike most other sports, basketball has the problem where it has become rather difficult to define one player as the GOAT, or the Greatest Of All Time. Sure, most people would argue that it would be blasphemous to name any other player other than Michael Jordan as the greatest player, but then who is number 2? From Magic to Kareem from Kobe to Duncan, there are simply too many options to make an unbiased claim for NBA rankings. That is why we must turn to the statistics.

Unfortunately, even statistics have a fatal flaw in that they do not count for intangible qualifications that make a certain NBA player astounding. For example, Wilt Chamberlain averaged a whopping 30.1 points and 22.6 rebounds a game, but is often times not considered the best center because of the fact that other centers such as Bill Russell recorded 11 rings in comparison to Wilt’s 2. Moreover, there are players like Kareem-Abdul Jabbar who practically invented a type of shot, in the sky-hook, whose value is not recorded in statistics, but has maintained its impact on the game of basketball even today. Continue Reading

The Decline of Rajon Rondo

Jake Hyman ◆ March 16, 2017

Not long ago, Rajon Rondo was considered one of the best point guard in the NBA. Making 4 straight all star appearances from 2010 to 2013 and leading the Boston Celtics following the trades of their veteran stars, Rondo looking poised to keep dominating in the NBA. However, a devastating ACL injury, changing tactics, and a poor attitude have derailed Rondo’s growth.

Rondo emerged as a solid distributer and fourth option on the Boston Celtics championship team of 2008. He continued to improve and contribute to competitive teams, leading the league in assists in consecutive seasons from 2011-2013. However, in January of 2013, in the midst of a career year averaging 13.7 points and 11.1 assists per game, Rondo suffered an ACL tear that ended his season and held him to just 30 games the following season. Since then... Continue Reading

Derrick Rose Before and After the Injury

Vincent Chen ◆ March 6, 2017

Before his devastating ACL injury in 2012, Derrick Rose was destined for greatness. Raised in Chicago, Rose was Chicago’s best hope of winning another championship for the Bulls, a team that was once glorious under the leadership of Michael Jordan. Rose carried not only the team, but also the hopes and dreams of the city of Chicago. His flashy crossovers, his speed and explosiveness, and his thunderous dunks were once guaranteed to appear on highlight reels and led the Bulls to the league’s best record in 2011 and himself to the MVP trophy, the youngest to ever win the award in history. Yet, this all changed when he went down during a drive in 2012, which resulted in a torn ACL and endless whispers of “what if...”.

After the injury, Rose didn’t look like his old self; he drove to the basket less, he was less efficient on his mid-range shots, and he no longer threw down dunks, that once would receive uproars from stadium crowds. Rose never fully recovered from the injury... Continue Reading

Can Cousins lead the Pelicans to an NBA title?

Sandeep Tiwari ◆ March 1, 2017

Not too long ago, centers were the most dominant players in the NBA. Wilt, Russell, Hakeem, Shaq, Kareem, Duncan, to name a few, were all the best players on NBA championship winning teams. However, in recent years, we’ve seen championship teams built on the shoulders of guards and forwards. From 2006 to 2016, the only Finals MVP who was a big man was Dirk Nowitski, a man who was really nothing like the dominant big men of old, and instead, found his success through a perimeter style of play. However, with the recent news that Demarcus Cousins is going to be paired up with Anthony Davis, it looks like things might change, and they might change fast. Continue Reading