A method for using player tracking data in basketball to learn player skills and predict team performance

Brian Skinner, Stephen J. Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Player tracking data represents a revolutionary new data source for basketball analysis, in which essentially every aspect of a player's performance is tracked and can be analyzed numerically. We suggest a way by which this data set, when coupled with a network-style model of the offense that relates players' skills to the team's success at running different plays, can be used to automatically learn players' skills and predict the performance of untested 5-man lineups in a way that accounts for the interaction between players' respective skill sets. After developing a general analysis procedure, we present as an example a specific implementation of our method using a simplified network model. While player tracking data is not yet available in the public domain, we evaluate our model using simulated data and show that player skills can be accurately inferred by a simple statistical inference scheme. Finally, we use the model to analyze games from the 2011 playoff series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder and we show that, even with a very limited data set, the model can consistently describe a player's interactions with a given lineup based only on his performance with a different lineup.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0136393
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 9 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Skinner, Guy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Dive into the research topics of 'A method for using player tracking data in basketball to learn player skills and predict team performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this