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Like these — with more regularity, with further breadth

I started writing on Medium in early 2020 as a side project. Although every CV that I’ve written since 2005 had listed writing as a key strength, I wondered if strangers on the Internet would read what I wrote.

I wasn’t even sure whether I would find writing to be enjoyable if done on a regular basis. Not to mention the nerves about putting my work out there for the world to see and judge.

But one thing led to another and at this point I have written 50(!) various, data-adjacent pieces. …

Thoughts on a few leading data visualisation tools for all skill levels

Between visualisations, lines of code, or pieces of writing, almost everything that I create professionally is intangible. That wasn’t always the case though. I used to be a mechanical engineer back in the day, having worked on things like bridges, tall buildings and even (briefly) race cars.

While I’m now only a recovering engineer, the training never really leaves you. One of my most vivid memories from first-year engineering classes was being shown a tool board like this one.

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A tool board (Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash)

We were told that there exists a huge array of available tools, that there is almost always a right tool for…

There’s ample evidence that consistency is important. Then why aren’t we measuring it?

This article looks at the link between consistency and wins in sports. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while as a sports fan / data nerd. Even though we often talk about consistency in sports, most of the statistical look at teams or players are through the aggregate or average stats only.

So I wondered — are we regularly ignoring an important piece of data in evaluating teams and players? I would love to get your thoughts and comments on this — so please sound off on comments or let me know on Twitter!

The right angle to look at wins

Let’s start with the…

Why transforming your data before visualisation can lead to better insights

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Transforming data from (X, Y) to (Angle, Distance) representation (Image: Author)

You might have seen basketball data visualisations, with the court divided up into hexbins. Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN/Harvard pioneered these, and many a soul (including myself) have produced them since. They often look something like this:

How choosing the right colour and scales can make or break your message (with examples & Python code)

You might have seen this COVID map — first reported by andishenouraee on Twitter, and then covered by the media at large.

Even if you have, take another look. If you haven’t, these are choropleth maps showing Covid-19 cases per county (from July 2020) in the state of Georgia. The two maps appear very similar, but the observant among you might have noticed one crucial difference — the scale.

Changes to the scale mask the fact that each colour band is about 50% higher, and many of the similarly-coloured areas would in fact, under the same scale, be a shade…

See the dramatic changes to the NBA offences over the last 15 years to understand its history and imagine the future.

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A history of NBA shot charts for the last 15 years (Image: Author)

The NBA in its early days was defined by those who could dominate near the basket. It’s no mistake that the league’s early stars were Wilt and Russell who possessed not only a bruising interior game but also tall, imposing specimen. But like many products, the NBA evolved through a combination of changes to its rules and decades of competition.

The resulting league in 2020 is almost unrecognisable. Today, point guards like Steph Curry are arguably more critical to a team’s success than the bruising big men who dominated the past. …

Getting Started

How to effectively communicate data on maps for clear, insightful insights with Python (code and data included)

The U.S. presidential election is upon us again. You have no doubt had maps flood your Twitter timeline and news feeds already, and the next few weeks after Nov. 3rd will see an escalation of that.

We take maps for granted these days, and it’s not difficulty to see why. Smartphones have commoditised technology to accurately locate us and provide live directions to the 5 nearest Japanese restaurants with at least a 4.0 rating. Maps have never been more integrated in our lives, even though just a decade ago people still used street directories. (Shudders)

But it would be doing…

The Sixers have hired Daryl Morey in a huge statement of intent. Will Ben Simmons survive The Process, part 2?

Less than a fortnight after resigning from the Houston Rockets, the face of basketball analytics Daryl Morey is back with the Philadelphia 76ers as the president of basketball operations.

As Jared Dubin pointed out on FiveThirtyEight, Morey has been one of the most active GMs during his tenure in Houston. So it’s no surprise to see the Internet awash with speculation on whether this is the end of the many flavours of Ben & Joel in Philly. Will it?

The fact is, we don’t know what goes on in Dork Elvis’ brain, other than, the 10,000 monkeys tirelessly…

A data-driven look at how ageing affects the modern NBA. How old are the league’s best players? Are modern players getting younger? Who’s getting playing time?

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Image: Author

As many top-level sports grew and matured from their early days of bus rides and humble paychecks into big, multi-billion dollar business over the last few decades, so has sports science. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the NBA, a league where each team’s success depends on a few star players more than any other team sports around the world.

To keep his body in peak physical condition, LeBron James is said to employ a team that would be the envy of royalty. His team is said to include a biomechanist, recovery coach, masseuses, and personal chefs, while…

Predicting a paradigm shift in the (programming) world, and how to not to get left behind in its wake.

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Lego! (Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

Are you a Lego fan?

Lego was my first true obsession. Although I’m a recovering legoholic these days, I once had quite the collection that filled a gargantuan sack from which I could make anything. While I single-mindedly made some sort of spaceships, the point is that I could have made anything.

I have often read it said that the genius of Lego is its modular design. As in – any of its parts can be easily assembled into any other part. But I disagree. The real genius is in the integrity and strength of the connections between components.


JP Hwang

Data science / viz person & writer, sports analytics enthusiast, freelancer. 🇦🇺 Ex-Sydneysider. 🐦: @_jphwang

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