#MakeoverMonday | Week 51 | 2019: NBA Defensive Ratings

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For this week, Andy chose a Basketball dataset. My expertise on that topic is limited to the claim of coming from the same town as the 6-time German champion team Brose Baskets. I went to see one of their games and all I remember is that it was really loud and fast :-).

Anyhow, onto this week’s dataset and viz. This viz comes from FiveThirtyEight and looks like this:

What works well:

  • Nice clean bar chart with clear color choices and great annotations.
  • The title intrigues me to find out more.
  • The subtitle offers a helpful explanation of the chart’s focus.
  • The data source is clearly stated.
  • Reference lines and reference band use is effective.
  • I really like this.

What could be improved:

  • I don’t understand why ‘worse’ is at the top and ‘better’ is at the bottom. I get that it’s because of the score, but it doesn’t seem intuitive to me.
  • The viz makes me wonder ‘what happened’ because there is a clear change in the quality or effectiveness of their defense but given the reference to Popovich and Duncan I am not sure what their influence has been? I couldn’t figure it out from the article either.
  • Given that a number of data points are annotated, it would be helpful to have some commentary on the most recent seasons where things got worse.

What I did:

  • I read the article line by line, because US Basketball isn’t exactly something I am an expert in.
  • After spending about 5min with the data, I thought about highlighting the change within the Spurs’ result over time by using a slope chart, but ran out of time during the day.
  • Getting back to the viz later on and with a suggestion from Andy to look at win percentage versus defensive rating, I looked at those measures, built a connected scatterplot, added annotations and called it a day.
  • Here is my viz. To explore the interactive version, click on the image:

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