Basketball and Graph Theory

Published by patrick honner on

This is an fascinating article about how scientists at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity are using mathematical modeling to study and evaluate basketball teams.

Through analyzing ball movement on offense, a graph, or network, is created to model the team’s play.  By studying and comparing these networks, ASU mathematicians and scientists are able to start asking, and answering, interesting mathematical questions.

For example, the LA Lakers were identified as a “high entropy” team.  This means that the Lakers’ ball movement on offense is less predictable than a “low entropy” team like the Utah Jazz.

Furthermore, analysis suggests that a player’s shooting percentage may not be the most important quantitative characteristic on offense; the shot by itself may be less important than the sequence of plays that led up to it.

Another fascinating and exciting story at the intersection of math and sports!

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


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