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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Big Basketball Data

In Wired:  Excellent non technical look at tracking the complexity of sports.  Have followed this technically for a few years, this is a good non-tech view.  Nice example too of how data can be scrounged from multiple sources ...

" ... tracking 10 players in constant motion isn't trivial. He started scouring fan sites and sports coverage, and eventually he found stats for every shot taken in the NBA. It wasn't much—just who took the shot, from where, and whether it went in. But it was a start.

The data wasn't exactly private, but neither was it public—Goldsberry scraped it from the web. Specifically, he found that ESPN.com published shot charts with the box score of each game. He found the files that powered them and grabbed their information. “They were publishing these data sets but not using them to the potential that I saw in them,” Goldsberry says.

Eventually he pulled together a database with the spatial coordinates for every shot taken from 2006 to 2011—more than 700,000 of them. Then Goldsberry the cartographer teamed up with Goldsberry the hoops junkie. “I wanted to find a way to get this data to sing a new song, to tell us things like where Kobe is good and where Kobe is bad,” he says. And he wanted to do more than just crunch numbers. Goldsberry wanted to show people, “to communicate to players, and fans, and the media.”  ... ' 

For the technically minded here is the paper.

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