It was suggested that I compare players on single season data, rather than career sum data, both as a validity test and to gain other insight. It goes without saying that players’ styles change over their career–often, scorers become less effective and try to do other things well. Sometimes (as with Jordan, for example), we see players add dimensions to their game over time. So, I present yet another network diagram, one which illustrates the changing nature of each player. A few notes: this set is somewhat scorer-heavy, because of the way I generated the list of best seasons (using a euclidean distance metric). Also, when looking at this, it helps to keep in mind that this is a two-dimensional rendering of a hyperdimensional network–unless players are actually connected, visual proximity doesn’t necessarily mean anything, although it may not mean nothing. It would appear, given the degree to which players’ seasons cluster together, that the proximity algorithm functions fairly well.
NBA Seasons Proximity Network [PDF]