Some Thoughts on NBA End of Game Situations

3 things I think teams get wrong Before anyone yells at me that there are teams that do get these things right and there are rare situations where these might be the right things to do, let me just say that I know that and I’m just speaking in general terms. Not being aggressive enough seeking out 3s instead of 2s when down late. I have written about this before here. [Read More]

The Myth of the Lost Art of the Mid-Range

“The analytics say that’s a bad shot” is a phrase you will often hear during NBA broadcasts when a guy like Kevin Durant or Chris Paul pulls up from mid-range, often accompanied by a lament that analytics have resulted in the “death of the mid-range” or the “lost art of the mid-range” (Side note: analytics don’t say anything, people do, and often when that phrase is said by TV analysts it is often not something people who actually do basketball analytics would agree with). [Read More]

Fred VanVleet's Weakness

If you have watched a lot of Raptors games over the past few seasons it can be a struggle watching them try to score in the half court. One of the reasons for that is they lack a guy who can generate good shots for himself. In particular, this is an area in which Fred VanVleet really struggles. I decided to take a dive into the public tracking stats to see how much he struggles and how he compares to other players. [Read More]

Leverage Stats on

TLDR: Leverage stats on group stats based on how each much possession impacts win probability. Typically when looking at clutch stats in NBA analysis we just do filters based on score margin and time remaining. There is a sizeable difference in win probability between being down 5 with 4 minutes left and down 1 with 4 minutes left. Your percentage chance of winning a game when down 5 with 45 seconds left are in the single digits so lumping this possession with a possession in a tie game with 45 seconds left doesn’t make much sense to me. [Read More]

Some Quick Thoughts On Final Shots in Tie Games in the NBA

There have been multiple games recently in which a team could hold the ball for the final shot in a tie game. Both the Celtics in game 1 against Miami and the Raptors in game 6 against Boston shot a pull-up 3 in these spots. These were heavily criticized by lots of people. I think that criticism comes from a place of not understanding the reality of both how hard it is to score in these spots and what the proper strategy should be in these spots. [Read More]

Pesticides, Developing Resistance and the NBA

I recently finished reading Merchants of Doubt and one of the chapters focused on the attacks on Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring, which warned of the dangers of pesticides such as DDT back in 1962. The attacks claim that her role in the ban of DDT prevented malaria control which could have saved millions of lives. This claim is not warranted, in part, because at the time DDT was banned it was already becoming less effective at killing mosquitoes because they developed a resistance to DDT. [Read More]

Using Tracking Shot Filter Data To Measure Shot Difficulty and Shot Making

The tracking shot data on NBA Stats allows us to get shooting data based on closest defender distance, shot clock range, touch time and number of dribbles. Using this data we can get a rough measure of shot making by comparing how they shoot compared to the league average for each tracking shot filter bucket. An example of a filter bucket would be: closest defender 4-6 feet, shot clock 15-7, touch time < 2 seconds, 0 dribbles, 3pt FGA. [Read More]

NBA Tracking Shot Stat Video Examples

The stats for the tracking data on allow for filtering by period. This means that when a player makes or misses a single 2 or 3-pointer in a quarter we can get figure out how that shot was classified by the tracking filters. Here are some examples of shots for each closest defender distance filter.


Wide Open:



Very Tight:

At Rim:

Wide Open:



Very Tight:

Some Quick Math on The Quick 2 aka The Slower Loss

End game spots in basketball are my favourite strategic spots to think about. One thing I think many people get wrong is going for a quick 2 when down by 3 points at the end of game (I’m looking at you announcers who love to say “you don’t need a 3”). I figured I would run through some quick math based on actual results of ~20 years of NBA games to show that teams should be more aggressive going for 3 in these spots. [Read More]

NBA Matchup Plots

There are now matchup boxscores on It can be a little hard to get a lot out of reading the data table as shown on the site. I saw a tweet from Seth Partnow with some charts showing the data in an easy to interpret fashion and decided to write some quick and dirty python code to generate the same charts. The example below is the Toronto Raptors defensive matchups in their season opener against New Orleans. [Read More]

Why Corner Threes Will Still be Valuable if the NBA Widens the Court

A common suggestion to reduce the value of the three pointer is to widen the court and make the three point line the same distance all around the court. The thinking is that corner threes are more valuable because they are taken from nearly two feet closer to the net so if we make the three point line the same distance all around the court that will eliminate the discrepancy between the value of corner threes and above the break threes. [Read More]

My Favourite Features on

I didn’t really have a plan when I started building other than to make it easier to find stats that either weren’t available anywhere or weren’t easy to find on other sites. The site has been up for almost two years and here are the features I am most proud of. Wowy Combinations [On/Off –» Wowy Combinations]. I think this is the only place where you can get net ratings for all on/off permutations for a group of players. [Read More]

Basketball Stats I Wish People Would Stop Using

These are a few of the frustrations I have with commonly used stats during TV broadcasts of NBA games. Field goal percentage. Some shots count for two points, others count for three points, so why are we counting them together? If someone has a 45% FG% is that good or bad? If they shoot only threes, it’s very good. If they shoot only twos, it’s not. This is why effective field goal percentage was created. [Read More]

Separating First and Second Chance Scoring in the NBA

With the decline of offensive rebounding in recent years we can assume this means second chance scoring is declining as well. Since offensive efficiency is on the rise, this means that efficiency excluding second chance points must be increasing to an even larger degree. I decided to split up second chance points from other points to look at trends in recent years. For lack of a better term I have called these first chance points, where first chance points and second chance points sum up to total points. [Read More]

Play-by-Play Based Shot Quality Model

Not all shots are equal. While you get 2 points for both a breakaway dunk and a tightly guarded, off-balance 20 foot jumper, the dunk is the more valuable shot because it is going to be made nearly every time. Multiple people have created shot quality models to estimate the probability a shot is made based on various factors. You can read about some of them here and here . The better public models all used the no longer public SportVU shot logs. [Read More]

The Impact Your Offense Has On Your Defense

Basketball is a free flowing game of alternating possessions. As a result, how your offensive possession ends impacts the results on the ensuing defensive possession. If you score, your opponent has to take the ball out of bounds and inbound it, which gives you extra time to get back on defense. That extra time to get back on defense helps your defense compared to if you missed a shot and the other team got the rebound. [Read More]

NBA Efficiency by Rebounder Position

I recently shared my possession data and wrote a brief post on how to use it to dig deeper into pace. Today I’m going to do some exploratory analysis on that data to breakdown the efficiency on possessions following a missed field goal based on the position of the rebounder. Intuition would suggest that when a primary ball handler gets a defensive rebound it should create more fast break opportunities and lead to a more efficient offense. [Read More]

Digging Deeper Into Pace in the NBA

In NBA stats pace is the number of possessions a team gets per 48 minutes. It is used as a measure of how fast a team plays. While it is generally a good measure, it is flawed in a few ways. The first reason is that it doesn’t separate offensive pace and defensive pace. When pace is brought up, often people are talking about the pace of a team’s offense. A team that plays fast on offense and forces their opponents to play slow on defense may not have a fast pace by the traditional definition. [Read More]

NBA Possession Data

I have decided to share my possession details dataset for the 2017-18 regular season. This data is the starting point for all stats on . I have parsed out possession details from play by play data to create detailed stats for each possession. I spent dozens of hours putting this together and I think there is a lot that can be done with this data. By making it public I’m hoping people will do some stuff with it that I would have never thought of doing. [Read More]