40,000 Pieces of Information in One Screen

Just like the last graph posted, this one charts points per game and “other” per game, and colors each player-season based on playing style. Unlike the last graph, however, this one plots every player-season for which a player played in five or more games since the 1979-80 season (something like 8,000 points on the plot). Each point on the plot is described by a player name, a season, an indication of their playing style, points per game, and “other” per game — five pieces of information for each of 8,000 points makes about 40,000 pieces of information, all in a 5738 × 4175 px PNG (suitable for framing!).

All Modern Players, PPG, OPG, tendencies

Check out how Jordan (87) is on top all by himself and how much more Jordan concentrated on things other than shooting in ’88-89. Look to the right at how great Garnett and Olajuwon (two of my favorites), and to some extent, Robinson, are. Note just below that blueish-purple cluster of great center-forward scorers, you see a green cluster of great point guards: Johnson, Lever, Kidd, and Stockton (Steve Nash ’06 and ’07 is there, but substantially further to the left). Down in the bottom right, look at how similar Rodman and Wallace are — they fill(ed) similar niches for their teams, and that observation is borne out here by the data. Anywhere you see gray colors (Bird in ’80, several Webbers, Malones and Barkley ’91), those are seasons for which the player had a very league average distribution of statistics. Also keep an eye out for players that seem to be purely red, green, or blue: those are players who have overwhelming tendencies toward shooting, passing/stealing, or rebounding/blocking, respectively, whenever they touch the ball.

I aimed for maximum density subject to the constraint of clarity, and I think that this graph gives a lot of leverage to compare across individuals and over time.

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2 responses to “40,000 Pieces of Information in One Screen

  1. Gotta admit, I know practically nothing about sports, but this IS a tremendous graph– very interesting!

  2. Pingback: NBA similarity networks « The Arbitrarian

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