The great Kirk Goldsberry has pulled back the curtains on a new measure of basketball shooting prowess which he calls ShotScores.
By overlaying players' shot constellations, we can estimate the expected total number of points that an average NBA shooter would produce, based on where he took his shots; then we can compare a particular player's actual yield against it.
When you put it like that, it sounds so basic, yet it's been difficult until now to measure something like this. But no more. We can finally factor in degree of difficulty when judging a player's shooting ability.
Goldsberry ran the numbers for last season, and the top three players in ShotScores were the following:
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Stephen Curry
Always helpful when you create a new statistic and it passes the eye test. Counter-intuitive results are more intriguing, but it's helpful for adoption when your results mesh with the opinion of NBA scouts and analysts.
Incidentally, the NBA signed a deal with STATS Inc. to install SportVU cameras in all of its stadiums for the upcoming season, so we're about to enter a Golden Age of basketball analysis. I'd argue that the NBA, of all the major U.S. sports leagues, has released the most comprehensive set of statistics to the public through its website. I could spend hours just combing through that stuff, and it will only get better if they include SportVU data.
As an example, Henry Abbott of Truehoop highlights a few new basketball strategies that have become accepted wisdom in the past few years thanks to new analysis.