Exploring Game Performance in the National Basketball Association Using Player Tracking Data
Calleja González, Julio María
Jiménez Sáiz, Sergio
Schelling i del Alcázar, Xavi
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PLOS ONE 10(7) 2015 : (2015) // Article ID e 0132894
Recent player tracking technology provides new information about basketball game performance. The aim of this study was to (i) compare the game performances of all-star and non all-star basketball players from the National Basketball Association (NBA), and (ii) describe the different basketball game performance profiles based on the different game roles. Archival data were obtained from all 2013-2014 regular season games (n = 1230). The variables analyzed included the points per game, minutes played and the game actions recorded by the player tracking system. To accomplish the first aim, the performance per minute of play was analyzed using a descriptive discriminant analysis to identify which variables best predict the all-star and non all-star playing categories. The all-star players showed slower velocities in defense and performed better in elbow touches, defensive rebounds, close touches, close points and pull-up points, possibly due to optimized attention processes that are key for perceiving the required appropriate environmental information. The second aim was addressed using a k-means cluster analysis, with the aim of creating maximal different performance profile groupings. Afterwards, a descriptive discriminant analysis identified which variables best predict the different playing clusters. The results identified different playing profile of performers, particularly related to the game roles of scoring, passing, defensive and all-round game behavior. Coaching staffs may apply this information to different players, while accounting for individual differences and functional variability, to optimize practice planning and, consequently, the game performances of individuals and teams.