Visualizing the NBA’s Trend Toward Positionless Basketball

The NBA has transitioned into a somewhat positionless sport. As the years have gone by, more and more teams have continued to employ lineups that don’t contain centers, or utilize point forwards that guard the paint but facilitate the offense. Players have been thought of less and less as “shooting guards” or “power forwards” and more and more as “wings” or “bigs”. We wanted to visualize this massive change in play style by using data science methods to compare the play style of the current NBA to that of the NBA in the 1980s. Through unsupervised learning, we were able to see how the clustering of player data by position has changed over time, and what that says about how the play style of the league has evolved.

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Central Division Preview: The Bucks (Kinda) Run it Back

Welcome to the fifth of the Corner Three 2019-2020 NBA division-by-division season previews. In each of these previews, we use RJ Garcia’s player-by-player ratings (based on on/off metrics and career trajectory) and per-game minutes projections (taking into account potential minutes lost to injury) to project overall team quality for the upcoming season. RJ and Derek Reifer also provide their own analyses and commentary to provide any context and additional insights.

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Who, Why, and In How Long: Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs

After a long wait, it’s finally here, and we had to do a quick breakdown of each of the 1st round matchups. Arya vs. Daenerys could be a doozy, and Bran vs. Jaime has all kinds of history…

Oh yeah, the NBA Playoffs are here too. I guess I’ll break those down too, with some help from my co-host RJ Garcia.

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What is Anthony Davis Worth?

It’s official: Anthony Davis has requested a trade.

One of the consensus top-5 players in the NBA changing teams, especially with still a year and a half left on his contract, has the potential to make huge waves within the NBA. Could he team up with LeBron James on the Lakers? Could he go to the East and shift the power balance between the conferences? Anything is possible at this point, as it’s likely 29 GMs are currently awake, coffee in hand (except for Danny Ainge), constructing packages for the Pelicans’ big man.

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#NBATwitter: A Study

Twitter is the lifeblood of the NBA.

As described by the Washington Post, it’s “a sports bar that doesn’t close, where the stars pull up a seat next to you”. According to Twitter itself, the NBA was the most tweeted-about sports league in 2018, and it’s no surprise, as the online home of the players houses more organic drama than any episode of The Bachelor. From burner accounts of superstars and GMs, to asking for trades and reacting to them, to basketball players doing what they do best – shooting their shot, fans of the NBA know there’s no way to track their favorite league quite like Twitter.

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Does Tanking Really Work?

Since the race for once-in-a-lifetime prospect Anthony Davis, tanking has been one of the most controversial topics in NBA conversation. The then-Bobcats aggressively lost games to put themselves in position to get the Brow, leading them to the worst winning percentage in the history of the league.

The biggest argument about tanking is usually regarding its morality, and whether a team and its fans should root for failure in order to find long term success. The league is also split on whether tanking is good for the NBA and its franchises, as shown by the failed “anti-tanking” vote that would’ve revolutionized the lottery system. However, for most NBA fans, there is little doubt that tanking is a “smart” plan. But is tanking really smart? Does it often work?

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The Comprehensive 2014-2015 NBA Preview: Western Conference

After an amazing 2013-2014 season, the unbearably long offseason is finally coming to a close. There’s a lot to look forward to this year in the NBA, with superstars on new teams, contenders adding pieces, and more squads than ever with a chance to make noise. Let’s continue with my projected standings for the Western Conference, and analysis for the teams in it:

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Who/When/Why: Second Round

We have just witnessed one of the greatest first rounds in NBA Playoff history: Game 7s, overtimes; four-point plays. Can the second round top it? Here’s what the stats say about each of the matchups:

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A Quick Who, When, and Why for the First Round in the West

San Antonio (1) vs. Dallas (8)

You know how I feel about the Spurs, and nothing’s changed. This will be a fun series, as proven playoff performer Dirk Nowiztki and new running mate Monta Ellis look to keep up the scoring pace with the old men from Texas.

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Three Big Reasons this Year Could be Different for the Clippers

The past couple of years, the Los Angeles Clippers have been plenty flashy during the regular season, but have struggled come playoff time, with one series win in those two previous seasons. This year, though, with new coach Doc Rivers, a legitimate big three, and various improvements across the roster, this could be the year the Clips make some more noise.

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