Tag Archives: cluster

Toward a basketball taxonomy

I hope this isn’t getting repetitive, because I’ve got a diagram that will blow your mind: it’s like the entire NBA in a petri dish, with all different phyla and genera of player types represented. I used the same methodology I’ve been using (with the per-minute, rather than ratio statistics), but generated the graph with fewer connections (just the single closest match) per player. As a result, there are a whole lot of isolated clusters instead of one completely interconnected network. Also, I went ahead and did 1,000 players at once, instead of the standard 250. What I got astounded me–they look like microorganisms swimming around on the microscope slide that is the NBA. I apologize for the tiny font–if you zoom in to 125%, it should be readable–but had I made the names any larger, they would have overlapped to an illegible degree.

nbapetrithumb.png The NBA “petri dish” diagram [pdf]

I would be very interested in collectively coming up with a sort of “baller’s taxonomy,” wherein we try and identify the different clusters using some more subjective terms. I think we could come up with a better vocabulary to describe players and define playing styles. If you have any ideas, please put them in the comments, and if there is sufficient interest, I may come up with a more formalized process, in the hopes of putting together a follow-up diagram with labels.


Since I had already run the algorithm anyway (it takes a lot of cycles to do 1,000 players), I went ahead and made a completely connected version of the 1,000 player diagram. Warning: this one is pretty hard to parse.

nba1000thumb.png 1000 player network diagram [pdf]

Keep in mind that the search function (ctrl-f) will be really useful for these.