Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Guest Post - Floating Dashboards and NBA Player Comparisons

This week I'm featuring what I hope is only the first of many guest posts by @datajedininja, otherwise known as Carl Allchin. A fellow NBA and Tableau nut......

It’s NBA playoff time which means anyone who sees me day-to-day will expect more mood swings than a teenager! If the Spurs are winning then I’m insufferably smug. Yet, if the Spurs are losing then I’m insufferably grumpy.
Using Tableau has become somewhat a way of life for me and there is not many of my interests that I don’t analyse from a data perspective; analysis of the NBA is no different. I wanted to understand how players perform in regards to not just the league but also their own team. Below is a quick walkthrough of how I have achieved this without having to create a large number of weightings that sway bench-warmers in to allstars or give the reader migraines trying to decipher – I’m looking at you Hollinger!

First of all, what is a nicer way to create a quick overview than a tree map? In this, not only can I see which players perform the best in my chosen metric, but I can see the individuals relative performance to their own team. Sweet. But I feel Stephen Few’s wise words coming back to me. “Carl”, I hear him say in my ear, “how can you tell the difference in the performance of Tiago Splitter and Tyson Chandler on this chart?”. And as much as I love treemaps, I can’t justify it to myself, it doesn’t answer the fundamental like-for-like comparison.

However, Tableau 8 allows me to not have to answer any single question with just one chart. Why not use another – “scatter plot” I hear you cry – “yes” I answer. The scatter plot allows me to explore the individual performances in comparison to each other.

So using Tableau 8’s floating dashboard functionality I put the two together to allow (with the use of some sneaky parameters) to create a chart that allows me to explore player performance whilst seeing where they sit in the overall setting of the league. The dashboard below is interactive, but here is the comparison between Tiago and Tyson just in case you were curious…

Here is a link to go and recreate this dashboard or functionality for yourselves –
Happy Tableauing all and Go Spurs Go!
Carl Allchin (@datajedininja)

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