Rami Moghadam, a former Pentagram designer, visualized the careers of the NBA’s best players. Here are the East Coast All Stars.

For each player, the designer plotted a number of career averages on the same circular chart. The result is a statistical snowflake giving a rough overview of a career.

Dwayne Wade’s is pretty well rounded--his teammate, LeBron, has a similar, slightly more robust footprint.

Here are the West All Stars.

As we see here, Zach Randolph is a rebounding specialist. Russell Westbrook gets more points and assists--but is also prone to turn the ball over (and wear really crazy shirts).

Kevin Durant plays a lot of minutes--and scores a lot of points.

Infographic: The NBA's Best Players, Visualized As Statistical Snowflakes

A former Pentagram designer serves up stat-based footprints for the league’s finest players.

In coming years, hanging cameras and sophisticated tracking systems will offer NBA coaches troves of new data on their teams—information that could yield new metrics for evaluating players and fundamentally reshape how we think about the game. For now, though, the standard stats will have to do. And while looking up a player’s averages for points, blocks, steals, and the rest is informative enough, visualizing them all together is much more fun.

Click to enlarge.

That’s just what Rami Moghadam did for the players of last weekend’s All Star Game. Moghadam, who spent four years as a designer at Pentagram and has been an NBA devotee since childhood, plotted various stats for each of this year’s All Stars on the same circular charts, resulting in 24 shapes that offer rough visual summaries of those players’ careers.

Each footprint is anchored by the player’s average minutes per game, at 12 o’clock. From there, the statistics are grouped around the circle by type. Activity in the top right quadrant reflects good scoring; the bottom left includes defensive tallies like steals and blocks. Glancing at the East’s lineup, you can tell LeBron James is dominant. Not only is his scoring section nice and thick, but he puts up significant numbers in rebounds and assists, too. His teammate, Dwayne Wade, gets a remarkably similar shape. It’s no wonder that the Heat are so good.

Click to enlarge.

Other players’ shapes reveal particular strengths. Tim Duncan’s rebounding prowess can be seen as a sharp downward tentacle; point guard Chris Paul has one jutting off at a different angle for assists. "The idea was that you can step back and appreciate the poster as a colorful visual," Moghadam explains, "but at the same time look closer and dig into the information and learn more."

Of course, the visualizations don’t show the whole picture. Teams are shaped not just by the numbers their players put up but also by things like chemistry and morale. And even in terms of individual players, the box scores can capture only so much. There’s no statistic for tight D, say, or overall hustle. At least not yet.

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3 Comments

  • Arvidas

    Nice, but Fouls and Turnovers should have been inverted (5-x) and stats should have been sorted by importance top to bottom, i.e. points next to rebounds.

  • Jason Feifer

    Odd that they display turnovers—the only negative stat—the same way they display all the positive stats. You'd think it should be in reverse: A player gets more color on the chart depending on *fewer* turnovers, not more.