This is a review of the spatial data analysis research conducted by Alexander Franks, Andrew Miller, Luke Bornn and Kirk Goldsberry.
Basketball players must wear two hats – one for the offensive side of the game and one for the defensive side. However, most statistics deal only with their offensive skills, and not the defensive. Player tracking systems have the potential to change this.
Player tracking data from the 2013-2014 NBA season is used to develop a model that will allow analysis of both the offensive and defensive components of the game. First, the spatial data analysis model must identify which defender is guarding which offender at every point in the game. The results lead to the conclusion that defenders typically take up a position two-thirds of the way between the hoop and the offender they are guarding. When defending against the ball carrier the defender wants to be closer so they tend to take a position three-fourths of the way between the ball carrier and the hoop. Defense can be analyzed by determining how they affect the shot selection and shot efficiency of the offender they are guarding.
Next, shot types are added to the spatial data analysis model. Then the model is adapted to account for where different offenders prefer to shoot from on the court as well as the probability that the player is successful in making the shot. The probability that the player is successful is formulated using the offensive player’s skill, who the defender is, the distance between the defender and the shooter, as well as where the ball carrier was on the court when he took the shot. Obviously, the further the defender is from the shooter, the less effective he is at stopping the shot.
Data analyzed determined that defenders can affect both the shot frequency and shot efficiency of the shooter. Some defenders are more skilled at affecting the shooter’s shot frequency, while some are more skilled at affecting the shooter’s shot efficiency. There are also those who are effective in both areas. The model also provides information regarding how shooters perform against specific defenders.
Coaches can use the spatial data analysis model to analyze how much defensive attention each of their players receive. Players who receive more defensive attention would be those the defense considers to be the stronger threat. Coaches can also look at how to take advantage of this situation to identify which players are receiving less defensive attention. Also, looking at how individual shooters perform against specific shooters can help the coach decide which defensive matchups should be made.
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