NBA, business strategy and data insight

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The credit for the extensive analysis and insights in this piece goes to Matt Parker from Stand-up Maths. You can watch the full video here.

With the NBA finals currently underway, I found this analysis to be particularly intriguing, highlighting the significance of data and data insights in shaping business strategies and maintaining a competitive edge.

For those who remember basketball in the Michael Jordan era, three-point shots were not as prevalent as they are in today’s NBA. Players like Steph Curry have revolutionized the game by changing the way teams approach scoring. They either drive the ball to the basket or step back behind the three-point line, with very few attempts from mid-range.

Matt Parker found this shift fascinating and delved into the data to investigate whether players have indeed altered their shooting strategies over time, and his findings confirm that they have.

By analyzing over 4.6 million NBA shots spanning over 30 years, Matt examined the shooting positions on the court and the corresponding success rates for each position.

He discovered that until approximately ten years ago, shots were distributed relatively evenly around the basket. 

However, comparing those results to the shots made in the last decade, it becomes evident that strategies have changed. Players now tend to shoot either directly under the basket or from beyond the three-point line.

But why did this change occur? What is the reason behind it?

Matt’s analysis revealed that when he plotted the accuracy of scoring against the distance from the basket, there was a sharp decline in accuracy at around 2 meters, followed by a relatively stable accuracy rate extending beyond the three-point line.

However, shooting a three-point shot earns three points compared to two points for shots closer to the basket. Taking this into account, Matt plotted the accuracy of shots against the distance, and it became clear that there was a significant increase in points scored right around the three-point arch.

Based on this upward trend, the data suggests that it is more advantageous for players to either shoot close to the basket or step back to the three-point line, as their average points scored will increase.

This analysis serves as an excellent example of how data analysis and deriving insights from data can influence business strategies. While NBA players apply this knowledge to their shooting strategies, businesses can employ similar tactics in various areas such as customer segments, product lines, and more.

I encourage you to watch and appreciate Matt’s YouTube video, where he presents this remarkable data analysis.