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Week 12: Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots
11-13-2014, 06:48 PM
Post: #1
Week 12: Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots
Link to the visualization: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/....html?_r=0

The visualization depicts the shooting patterns of both the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, who were involved in the NBA Finals in 2012. It provides a summarized view of the shooting patterns of the entire team and also provides a more detailed statistics on the individual player's shooting patterns.

The visualization makes use of heat map design technique to show the data. The author of this article uses the word "court maps" in this regard. The visualization makes use of area encoding techniques to give an indication of the number of attempts made to score and color encoding/color maps to depict the number of points scored per region with gray indicating low number of points and red indicating high number of points in a particular region

Things which are good about this visualization:

1. The mouse rollover on a player which changes into heat map of the player's shooting pattern is elegantly done and the transition is really quick and smooth. This was one of the things which caught my attention instantly when I viewed the visualization.

2. The interactivity has been encoded really well here and the mouse rollover on a single point gives details about the number of attempts made, points per attempt and total points scored from a particular position in the field by the player/team.

3. Good use of filtering techniques through the use of buttons on a tabbed pane on top. The different categories allows the user or an enthusiastic fan to analyze the close range shooting,mid range shooting and 3-point shooting patterns of both the individuals and the team.

4. The use of the basketball field in the visualization helps a lot in enhancing the understanding of the visualization though it might not be strictly according to Tufte's integrity principles.

5. The different filters for the different shooting zones provides great deal of information in understanding the specialization/skill set of a player. For ex: When we choose the 3-pointers tab, we clearly observe that the Thunders trio of Durant, Harden and Westbrook contribute to the bulk of the 3-pointers scored by Thunders while Perkins has absolutely zero attempts from the 3-point range and Ibaka has had just a single attempt from the 3-point range during the entire season.

The visualization provides many more interesting details which could be potentially used by opposition camps while designing the team strategy.

6. The statistics about total shots, points per shot and field goal % displayed on top of each player provides useful information. Also I found the analysis displayed at the bottom of every individual's heat map provides more information about the context and would help the non-basketball watching crowd to get a fairly good understanding of the visualization.

Things which could be improved in this visualization:

1. The color encoding or the color map used could be improved to make use of colors which are color blindness neutral. At present it makes use of red,green and yellow which could make it difficult for people with color blindness.

2. The area encoding always has its share of disadvantages and I feel in this case too it doesn't really do a good job, particularly in the region where there is a lot of overlapping. But when compared to the overall context, I cannot think of other good alternatives which could be used for depicting it better.

3. If I were to be too critical of this visualization, I feel the author could have encoded the lines depicting the basketball field with a darker color like black and also with a thicker line. This would probably help us in understanding better when there a lot of points near the ring and with the current encoding all we see is a set of points without any indication of where the ring was.

The reason why only six of the first team player's from both sides are depicted in the visualization is not provided, though it seems obvious that the designer is interested in showing only the players who had a great /major impact during the season.

In summary I fell this is a really neat visualization. Though it is exhaustive in content, it has been encoded in such a way that it appears clutter free and ultimately achieves its intended purpose.
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Week 12: Where the Heat and the Thunder Hit Their Shots - Anirudh - 11-13-2014 06:48 PM

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