“This is the most incredible stats tool I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some cool s***.” @HPbasketball Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com, weekend editor for NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk.com.
Create a consumer-facing product from a rich set of data in time for the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
Since 1947 the NBA has been tracking and analyzing game data. By the late 1980’s this information included an extremely granular view of data at a play-by-play level, which provided the potential for mining very compelling metrics around situational and comparative statistics. For example, if you were interested in the aggregate performance of a particular player when certain other players were on the court you could access that data. Interested in player performance in certain areas of the court when other specific players were also on the court? That data was available too. Views on how certain teams performed in certain situations against other teams, crunch time performance, etc. were all also a part of what the NBA dubbed the ‘Stats Cube.’
The Stats Cube data has been available to the teams' basketball operations departments and the media for some time, but the format was an Excel macro pulled from the NBA databases. This was useful data to be sure, but not a user-friendly product. SVP and GM of NBA Digital, Bryan Perez, had another idea. What if we could provide this data to the NBA’s rabid fans in real-time via a web-interface?
Enter the sports user experience team from Omnigon.
I'm going to spend all day lost in the Stats Cube. Family? What family?
— Kurt Helin, (Pro Basketball Talk on NBC Sports).
In creating an approach to the NBA Stats Cube product, Omnigon focused on three key principals: (1) data visualization, (2) the perspective of the NBA fan and, (3) the social conversation. Because Omnigon has subject matter expertise in sports we were able to assemble a project team that consisted of both NBA fans and staff members familiar with sports data and determined the best ways to consume that data.
The product design process focused on creating the kind of experience fans would respond to and media members would feel created the most value. The product was also designed to allow deep linking to specific data visualization points that resulted from the filtering of the data. This allows visitors to create statistical proof of NBA basketball theories and, most importantly, share that proof with friends and readers in a compelling, visual fashion.