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One thing I've always appreciated about the NBA is just how many different ways there are to excel at the fundamental goal of putting the ball through the hoop. From small and quick guards with a dizzying array of moves like Allen Iverson to physical anamolies like Shaq to everything in-between, there isn't a prototypical physical build or skillset you need to have to be an excellent scorer.
For an exploration of the diversity of scoring talent in the NBA, we don't need to look much further than the top scorers in the league today. We have big men who can dominate traditionally and have guard skills like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić. We have elite three-level scorers like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. We have historically good interior scorers like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson. And perhaps most excitingly, we have players with seemingly limitless range like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.
For this essay, we wanted to build a tool to break down and compare these scorers, focusing on questions like:
- Where on the court are players scoring the most from?
- How does the data look if we add a bunch of conditions? E.g. "how well did Steph Curry shoot at home in April on stepback 3-pointers from 25+ ft"?
- For a given player, what other players tend to take similar types of shots?
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