Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Maps from the Courtside
Interactive mapping platforms have suddenly become very popular tools for visualizing basketball statistics.
In April the Los Angeles Times created a very impressive visualization of every shot made by Kobe Bryant in his long career. Every Shot Kobe Bryant Ever Took uses Leaflet.js to present a shot map of Kobe Bryant's 30,699 career shots, both successful and misses. This was quickly followed by Kudos' Golden State Warriors Map, which uses CartoDB's mapping platform to analyze every game played by the Golden State Warriors in their record breaking 2015-16 season.
Now Gregory Brunner has used Esri maps to create a 3d shot map of Kevin Durant's 2015-16 season. Successful shots are shown (in blue) on top of a plan of the basketball court in Brunner's Courtside Geography. If you flip the map around (use your right mouse button) you can view Durant's missed shots on the underside of the court plan. The map includes a number of buttons which provide hot links to views of the map from the sideline and baseline.
Of course there's no need to stop at mapping individual shots. If you use CartoDB's Torque library you can creating animated maps of whole plays. For example, NBA Movement is an animated map which plots a passage of play during the Clippers vs Rockets game from May 2015.
The map uses data from stats.nba.com. Savvas Tjortjoglou has written up a nice tutorial explaining how you can extract the data from play by play movement animations at stats.nba.com. Jorge Sanz used this tutorial to get the data for the Clippers vs Rockets game in order to create this animated basketball map.