Advanced Stats for Basketball

Below are all the posts from the "Site Tips" category. Click here to view all posts.

January 18, 2008

Pretty Pictures from Google Spreadsheets

Posted by Eli in Raw Stats, Site Tips

Alex from the blog Mistake by the Lake recently had a post that utilized some of the tips I posted for scraping HotSpots/HotZones data in combination with some neat Google Spreadsheets features to display some charts about Larry Hughes that automatically update throughout the season. I thought this was a great idea, and I didn’t know it was even possible. In this post I’m going to create some charts of my own and explain how anyone can use these very cool features from Google Spreadsheets.

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November 11, 2007

So much for HotZones

Posted by Eli in Raw Stats, Site Tips

Well, wouldn’t you know it, right after I published my long piece on’s HotZones, they decided to change them. The HotZones page is still functional and linked to from, but the latest incarnation is now called NBA Hot Spots. It doesn’t appear to have any new features, but the menus do allow you to access more of the data that the HotZones page didn’t (the 07-08 regular season and preseason, and the 06-07 playoffs). It looks like it’s just a new front-end, so all the tips from my previous post should still work, as the data is still stored in the same place on the server. Hat tip to Hoopinion for noticing the move.

November 8, 2007

Hacking HotZones

Posted by Eli in Raw Stats, Site Tips

The folks at the official NBA site added a great feature a few years back called HotZones. It’s not on the level of’s fantastic PITCHf/x data, but it’s useful nonetheless. It consists of season-level shot charts for every player and team, broken down into 14 zones. This is data that wasn’t previously available. ESPN has had game-by-game shot charts with their boxscores since 02-03, but in a basically unusable form. 82games has shooting by distance since 02-03, but in addition to lacking side-to-side splits it groups shots into pretty large distance categories (what they label “Jump” shots includes some shots closer than 8 feet as well as everything beyond 8 feet).

So’s HotZones offer a lot of valuable information, but unfortunately they are also presented in a very difficult to use format. They are embedded in a Flash application, which means easy linking as well as copying and pasting are out of the question. Though you can select any team or player and a variety of splits, there’s no way to see what the league average FG% is for a specific zone, or who the league leaders are. And because of errors in the Flash menus, you can’t even access a lot of the available data (as of this posting, data is present on the server but inaccessible through the Flash menus for players from past seasons who are no longer in the league, the 07-08 regular season, the 06-07 playoffs, and the 03-04 regular season). However, with a bit of digging, I was able to find some ways around these problems. What follows are instructions for how to link to HotZones pages (including those you can’t get to through the menus) and how to download HotZones data in a format that allows for easy manipulation in a spreadsheet.

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