Earlier today, the good people at Nylon Calculus unveiled their newest version of shot charts with data available for the 2013-14 college season. Previously, this type of data was difficult to chart, and even more difficult to track. Now, we have information showing us the volume of shots a player takes in a given area on the floor in relation to all of the shots a player takes, and what that data also tells us is his field goal percentages from those areas. Red indicates great, blue indicates poor, and yellow is an average of 50 percent.
The reason this is being brought to your attention now is because Nylon Calculus also updated their NBA shot chart tracking (which will be graciously be updated weekly, not easy work), and it’ll likely be a main feature at this site used to track how a player on the Bulls is producing. So in the meantime, now would be a good time to introduce you to these charts and play around/get used to what they do and what they tell us.
At the NBA level, player tracking has taken over the technological and statistical landscape as the league implemented SportsVU software in every NBA arena. We now know every movement of every game for every player – somewhat remarkable data like that is available – and it’s appreciated in our understanding of things like efficiency, effectiveness, and player impact. Before, those intangibles like 'impact' could be stated arbitrarily, but now there’s empirical evidence to support claims of what the eye-test wants to affirm (i.e.: so-and-so can't shoot from the top of the key).
In college, player tracking information hasn’t been readily available and in comparison to where the NBA is at, it’s pretty lacking. With these new advancements for the college game, it’ll give good new insight for fans of their favorite collegiate teams or players, but it’s still not perfect. A disclaimer from Nylon Calculus:
NCAA Data Disclaimer: Shot location data is not as accurate in the NCAA as it is in the NBA. This can sometimes lead to strange artifacts, like boxes that probably consist of 3-pointers appearing inside the arc. Also, shot location is not tracked for all games. Games between ranked teams are most likely to be tracked, so players who frequently play against other ranked teams are likely to have the most tracked shots.
But, it's still cool to be able to look at and see what Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow were able to do last season, and good news Bulls fans: they both did really, really well. Here’s a quick breakdown of what McDermott’s chart tells us:
The main takeaways are this: McDermott shot relatively close to over 60 percent on 3-pointers from the wing, he rarely shot 3s from the corner, and most impressively he made 70 percent of his shots within five feet from the basket with a shot volume of 44 percent. McDermott finishing so well at the rim is highly encouraging, although it’d be a stretch to say he’ll be playing as close to the basket in the pros as he was in college.
As for Cameron Bairstow, who by the way, will be playing for his home country of Australia in the FIBA World Cup. But Bairstow's college shot chart is a little more barren. McDermott was one of the high-profile names in college basketball going into last season and he went on to win National Player of the Year, so he was tracked almost every step of the way. Bairstow played for New Mexico, and while Mountain West basketball is on the rise, it’s unclear how many of his games were not tracked. But, have a look:
Bairstow is really solid from the right side of the floor, and took the majority of his shots from that side. From about the mid-post to about the inner rim of the free-throw circle, Bairstow shot above 55 percent. He was also above average when scoring at the rim.
So, there you have it. A brief introduction to some fun new data, and hopefully you enjoyed it as much as basketball nerds everywhere across the Internet have.
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