The myth of the hot hand

While this study was presented at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference two years ago, I reviewed it again during this year’s conference and thought it was worth reviewing here. Sandy Weill (who presented the “Optical Tracking” session that I reviewed yesterday), along with John Huizinga (University of Chicago Professor – and Yao Ming’s agent) published a very interesting study dismissing the concept of a “hot hand”.

Why do I bring this up now? The study doesn’t appear to be well known to many announcers/media/fans and the Raptors/Nets game on Saturday emphasized that point.

What’s a “hot hand”?
Announcers, media and fans (and video games!) often refer to a player as “hot” (“he’s on fire!“) and demand teammates continually feed him the ball.

What did the authors find?
There is no evidence of “hot hand” exists, but NBA players act as though they are hot. The following is verbatim from their presentation:

  • After making a jump shot, they take harder shots, lowering their field goal shooting 3.5 percentage points.
  • If everyone on the team behaves this way, it costs the average team 4.5 wins per season

Findings on offensive behaviour changes:

  • After making a jump shot, players shoot 16% sooner than after a missed jump shot.
  • After making a jump shot, players shoot their team’s next shot 34% of the time, as opposed to 25% of the time after a missed jump shot.
  • Both of these effects are much stronger for point guards and swingmen.

Why do I bring this up?
At a point in the third period of the Nets/Raptors game on Sunday, the Raptors’ colour commentator declared (and I’m paraphasizing) Andrea Bargnani had the “hot hand” and his teammates have to get him more shots. My immediate response? This.

Here was Andrea Bargnani’s shot chart in the third quarter:

Five for eight, with two threes, is certainly excellent production. And I don’t mean to pick on just the Raptors’ colour commentator – I’m sure 95%+ of NBA announcers would say the same thing. Several Raptors fans on Twitter were saying it.

So what happened once he had the “hot hand”?
Bargnani went 3 for 11 the rest of the game. After being “hot”, he certainly forced more shots.

This not an indictment just on Bargnani. It’s about announcers and fans making the mistake of wanting teammates to consistently feed the hot hand.

In the same game, Demar DeRozan went 6 for 7 in the first quarter (Note: ESPN has a couple errors in this chart: it includes two James Johnson misses and one Ed Davis make).

The Raptors’ colour commentator noted “young guys can absorb the travel” in discussing DeRozan’s hot start.

So what happened? He must have tired in a hurry. He missed the next four shots and went 4 for 11 until the end of regulation. Again, this is not meant as a criticism of any specific announcer (I couldn’t call 2 minutes of a game without messing up often and quoting 54 clichés). The misconceptions surrounding the “hot hand” is a general view from announcers and fans alike. Its the natural tendency for all media [“He’s had a double-double four of his last six games” when actually (most often) it should be “four of his last seven” – as everyone generally starts the “trend” at the first positive datapoint.] And yes, I have been guilty of this as well.

An important note
Huizinga and Weil note “We cannot see a mechanism in which the offensive players behaviour is unchanged but the opponents defend the player more closely (needed to explain the reduced field goal percentage) that would lead to a shorter time between shots for the player. If the defense plays him tighter, at the margin, he should need to find a shot.”

I disagree with the authors here. I do believe that the player and his teammates are the largest culprits in taking the shot sooner (implying they are rushing it somewhat), but I do not think we can conclude the defender is not guarding the player tighter. Simply imagine the opponent’s coach after a player shoots, say 6 for 7, over a stretch. After a long list of obscenities, a coach would end with “either guard him tighter or your sorry a** is coming to he bench” and/or “player y, when you see him at position z, double team him”. Indeed, at this year’s conference, Weil noted (during his “What Optical Tracking Data Can Say About NBA Field Goal %” session) the second closest defender makes a difference too (i.e. double teams or soon to be double teams).

So what do we do with these conclusions?
Coaches: refrain from forcing the ball to the “hot hand”. Make it a game theory problem. If the opponent is going to put more resources on your “hot hand”, then other players should be more open. Have the ball go through the hot hand, but ensure they keep it moving. Did I mention Weill’s “Optical Tracking” session also concluded that shots immediately following a pass are more successful, even when controlling for distance and defensive positioning? No? Probably a good time to.
Players: This is hard to do, but don’t force the issue when you’re “hot”. Chances are everyone else knows it and will adjust. Be patient. Look for that open man. Winning basketball games makes you the hero.
Announcers/Media/fans: Make the smart comment – that the opponents’ will be focused on the hot hand and its best for them to counteract these adjustments. Praise the hot hand for identifying this and moving the basketball.

Questions? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.

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  • LinuxFTW

    Bargnani got cold so the rest of the shots aren’t really proof that being hot doesn’t mean much. He sat on the bench for a long ass time then came into the game and didn’t get the ball until like 4 min after he came in an even then it was 1 shot. Then in the first OT it was the same thing, he didn’t get a shot until couple min in.

    Demar was chucking a lot in the 4th and OT.

    • Tom Liston

      Fair point. Examples when “streaks” are ended in a tighter timeline are probably more relevant. The DeRozan example may be. Point is that the authors poured through years of data and reached these conclusions – and coaches and players should make adjustments.
      “If everyone on the team behaves this way, it costs the average team 4.5 wins per season.”

  • Milesboyer

    Who’s creating the arbitrary point of “when” they’ve gotten the hot hand? Did DeRozan have a hot hand after his first shot – making the next 5 out of six shots or was it after Leo proclaimed he had the hot hand a little later. That would definitely change the context for the stats argument. These kinds of arguments require taking things out of context and creating hard parameters which ultimately don’t exist in a game with a ton of variables. I’m not saying some of these advanced metrics stats can’t be valuable but just like I can make the statement “ice is warm (in relation to liquid nitrogen)” almost anything can be argued if put in a favourable context.

  • Chris Daubeny

    “In order to look for the presence of predictive information in the outcome of the previous shot on the outcome of the current shot, we take ALL the subjects shot and pair them within each game”
    “We allow shots separated by same-game breaks” ( between quarters, halfs, being substituted )

    Unless they are studying actual hot streaks, their entire study was completely useless. What does Bargnani’s makes or misses in quarter 4 have to do with the same in quarter one when it comes to measuring a hot hand?

    Making a shot to end a quarter, then 10 minutes later missing a shot after coming off the bench somehow disproves the hot hand? Not even close and leads one to seriously question whether anything can actually be taken from those results.

    • Tom Liston

      I believe you’re trying to throw out a whole study just because my first example wasn’t perfect. I started with that example as the result of the “hot hand” cue from the announcers.
      Use the DeRozan example then – or view the paper. It’s a robust study.
      (or use the eye test as I mentioned above).

      • Chris Daubeny

        I don’t like the study only after reading the study. Reading your example only piqued my curiosity. I do feel there are some fatal flaws in how which data they chose to use because they are not even looking at ‘hot streaks’, which their study is supposed to disprove. The quotes were direct from the link you provided.

        If Paul Pierce went a game where he alternated making and missing shots, one make, one miss, one makes, etc… why is that data being entered into the equation? How does that help prove or disprove whether a hot streak exists?

        I think hot streaks are false gold because everybody believes there is another one just around the corner. Trying to force the hot hand is like trying to force a miss-match, and just as likely to lead somebody to rush into mistakes. Waaaaaaay more people try to force a hot hand then actually have one.

        Do we not all have good day’s and bad day’s no matter what we do for a living? If we try to ‘push our luck’ ( force contested looks ), our day might quickly sour, but should we just ride it out, we can appreciate in hindsight how ‘on’ we were that day. It isn’t that we were ‘hot’, we just have no idea how to explain the increased focus, awareness and bounce in the step. Does this blog not come out in a matter of minutes some day’s, while you struggle on others?

        I think psychology has a better chance at answering this question then mathematics.

      • Theswirsky

        I personally think Chris has a point though (and others here)… that there is no defined period of time when ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ is. Players can be ‘hot’ for games or for only a few minutes… its just such an arbitrary word. But that by no means makes the study useless.

        I read your post but not the entire study, but did they only look at jumpshots? I would also think there is a difference between a single made shot and being ‘hot’…. but looking at an entire game may be too much. What about shots made in ‘streaks’ over a period of time?

        That said, I can definetely see the accuracy in players more likely to take a shot after they just made one, more likely to take a quick(er) shot after they made one and taking a tougher shot etc. I’m just not sure if any of that necessarily means a player is truelly ‘hot’ at that time, rather than trying(?) to get ‘hot’.

        I guess the problem is defining ‘hot’ before one trys to analyze it… and that can mean alot of different things to different people. At what point is a player hot? 1 shot, 3 shots, 5 shots? Do you not know a player is/was hot until he has ‘cooled off’?

        I also agree that its logical to assume that the defense would be more likely to defender tighter/better after a few shots were made. (ie. trying to cool a players heat?hotness?)

  • Nilanka15

    Love these articles Tom. It’s refreshing reading material that thinks outside the box, and attempts to break down ageless sports cliches.

    As for the hot hand, I’m not necessarily sold it’s a myth. Anyone who’s played the game can remember what a “good shooting day” feels like. The ball feels lighter, the hoop seems wider, and you manage to get perfect arc and rotation on every shot. The more shots you hit, the more confidence grows, and you simply get into a good “groove”. Whether or not this groove is statistically relevant is the million dollar question though.

    But thanks for the good work!

  • Tom Liston

    For clarity, I found this TrueHoop article from the time of the presentation.

    “Sandy Weil …. agrees that the thing they went looking for — evidence of the hot hand — could still be lost in the statistical fog. But what he’s saying is that rather than not finding anything, they found strong evidence of something else: A player taking worse shots when he thinks he’s hot.

    So Nilanka can be correct – especially for us amateurs that don’t play or practice a lot. Your “form” is less consistent and there ARE likely days when you “find it” and hit more than the norm. Likely happens to some degree for the professionals as well.

    It’s the “can’t miss” aspect that translates into the player taking more difficult shots (I *believe* increased defensive scrutiny plays some role – the TrueHoop author agrees).

    Perhaps my title should be “Don’t Feed The Hot Hand”.

    • tonious35

      “found strong evidence of something else: A player taking worse shots when he thinks he’s hot.”

      one name comes in mind: Bayless, LOL

  • Johnn19

    Looking for “hot streaks” vs cold streaks take Calderon’s last 4 games as an example.
    Dallas 7/10FG’s,15 pts, 35 mins
    New Orleans 7/10FG’s, 22pts, 38mins
    New Jersey 2/11FG’s, 6pts, 34mins
    New Jersey 3/10FG’s, 9pts, 40mins
    Very good to very poor shooting, scoring, but
    Averages 19/41FG’s .463% and 13pts above avg
    NBA numbers are made up from highs and lows, including very high and very low.

  • Tim W.

    This is where analytics and I part ways. Anyone who’s played ball knows guys can get hot. There are times when I felt I couldn’t miss no matter what I threw up. Other times, I might hit 2 or 3 in a row, but did not feel the same way. This is where the desk jockeys, I think, lose it. There’s a difference between being hot and hitting a few shots in a row.

    Anyone who’s played the game knows the hot hand isn’t a myth. It just maybe not as common as statisticians make out.

  • msmith04

    I do not think that this study either proves or disproves the existence of the “hot hand” in basketball. I’m not even sure it is something that proving or disproving would even help a teams chances of winning.

    I do think however that there is potential huge benefits from gathering the type of data that the study is based on. Knowing things like “if a player makes a jump shot he is 34% more likely to take the next shot” and “he is likely to take that shot 16% earlier” is great data for a team to have.

    If you were to analyze data like this on a team by team basis for every player in the league, you would be able to isolate the players that are the worst offenders of these tendencies and come up with defensive game plans in accordance with the statistics. Such strategies would be extremely helpful in baiting certain players into taking bad shots during close games.

  • hateslosing

    Interesting study, but as others have pointed out, when you play basketball sometimes you do actually get hot or go on a streak. This does raise some interesting questions about why the hot shooter’s % drops off though. If it is that the shooter makes a shot and tries to shoot another more difficult shot after, then it becomes an issue of te coach sitting down the player show missed and telling them to not take bad shots. If it is an issue with the other team focusing in on a player who has made a few shots, it would be extremely useful to use for play calling. For example, you could collect data on the average amount of time it takes for a team to react to a “hot shooter” and try to predict when you should run a play that will give that shooter an easy assist when the double comes.

    Thanks for posting these Liston, they are really neat!

  • jlongs

    I support the theory that players who think they’re hot take worse shots. They do this as a “heat check” to see if they really are on fire and can’t seem to miss.

    This then leads to the question of when exactly is a player on fire? And I don’t think it’s as simple as hitting a few shots in a row. I think it’s hitting those normally bad shots that net players being called hot. Like LeBron last year when he kept chucking further and further from the 3 point line and kept hitting them!

    • Tim W.

      “I support the theory that players who think they’re hot take worse shots. They do this as a “heat check” to see if they really are on fire and can’t seem to miss.”

      I’ve certainly done this. I’ll take a long three after I make a couple and feel I might be hot. But if I miss, I don’t try another one, that’s for sure.

      • Tom Liston

        So you’d take a shot that you’re normally less comfortable with? Would that lend credence to the study or contradict it?

        • Tim W.

          It would lend credence to the theory if I took more than one shot as a “heat check”. I don’t, and I doubt many others do, either. If I hit 2 or 3 in a row and then miss a heat check shot, then that’s still going 2 for 3 or 3 for 4. If I was hot, but then missed a couple of shots, I’m going to assume I’m not hot anymore. So I’d say it contradicts the theory.

          • Tom Liston

            Would you say your approach is similar to NBA players? Or do you think they behave it such a way where they take more difficult shots? Given some are playing for big contracts and you’re playing for pride.

            • Tim W.

              I don’t think it has anything to do with where, what or who you’re playing for. It’s simple basketball.

              And I’m not sure what your point is. The theory tries to dispel the fact that players can go on hot streaks, when it’s pretty clear to anyone who has played ball they can. And taking and missing a lot of tough shots after you’ve hit a bunch in a row has nothing to do with the hot streak. It has to do with that player not having a high basketball IQ. If you want to contend that players with low basketball IQ often take tough shots when they shouldn’t, I’d agree with that.

              • Tom Liston

                “And taking and missing a lot of tough shots after you’ve hit a bunch in a row has nothing to do with the hot streak. It has to do with that player not having a high basketball IQ.”
                This is a good point. But I don’t think its to do with high or low bball IQ. The players that make it to the NBA were fawned upon since the were teenagers. They have confidence… and egos. Plus, when they’re hot, they feel invincible. And thus take more difficult shots. You said you do the same. This results in lower FG% and hurts the team. A few, like you, may stop at one – but you still took a tougher shot. The data is quite clear – forget about whether a player can be hot or not (I’ll give you that they can be at times) – its about concrete data of what happens after a streak. Again, I think the title of the article could have been better.

                • Tim W.

                  Now you’re asking a different question. Are player’s basketball IQs lower? I don’t know. Are overall shooting percentages lower nowadays? I’m sure you probably know that. Again, though, I really don’t think that has anything to do with a hot streak.

                  If you’re talking egos and confidence, you don’t need to be fawned upon since teenagers to have that on the court. I think all good basketball players have that. Everytime I step on the court, I believe I’m the best shooter out there, even when I’m not. I believe every shot I take I’m going to hit. But I still play smart, because I’d rather win than simply score. And I think that is true of a lot of players.

                  Again, though, none of that has to do with hot streaks. If a player’s ego is overwhelming, a hot streak isn’t going to be what propels him to take bad shots. His own ego is. Even if he hasn’t gone on a streak. Of course, guys like that generally don’t play much in the NBA unless they actually hit a good number of those shots.

                • Tim W.

                  Upon more reflection, I think where you see the phenomenon you are talking about the most is with “scrubs”. Guys like Jerryd Bayless or Sundiata Gaines. They hit a few shots in a row and then they start taking bad shots. Guys like DeRozan and Bargnani, though, don’t tend to take a lot of bad shots unless they’re shooting poorly and are forcing it. So it’s the opposite effect. And I think that’s the difference between a good player in the NBA and a bad player (at least offensively). The good players don’t get too caught up in the moment, because they know they’ll get their shots. Bad players will force the action if they think they can get a few more baskets because they think that will help them. Unfortunately, it usually just makes them look bad. Again, though, that’s the difference between a player with a high IQ and a player with a low IQ. The scrubs that stick are usually the one’s with the high IQs that don’t force shots simply because they’ve made a few in a row.

    • Smushmush

      I think a player is imo “hot” – when he misses at most one-third of double digit shot attempts in a time frame. Players forcing shots imo when they are “hot” is most likely a function of defenses focusing on them – now the smart thing will be passing out of the double team to an open shooter to keep the defense honest as a “hot” player and become a double threat. Imo, “hot” hands really do happen(remember LBJ’s 51 point outburst against the Orlando magic this year, or Ray Allen’s 3 point performance in last year’s Game 1 of the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers). This topic is something that a Sports Economics Masters Students should touch on as a fun topic in lieu of the following:-

      1. Is the forced shot by these “hot” players a function of the better defense?
      2. Are they better passing the ball at the risk of going “cold” to help the team win?
      3. What is the ratio of “hot” players that are superstars to scrubs?(a 65 to 35 percent ratio at worst shows that there is really such a thing as an “hot” hand in basketball)
      4. Is a “hot” hand a product of bad defense or the player is just “unconscious” literally speaking?
      5. How about “hot” hands in other sports?(Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee’s pitching in the MLB playoffs, Halak’s, Boucher’s and Niemi goaltending in the NHL playoffs and Aaron Rodger’s hot streak in the NFL playoffs). Does “hot” hands exist in other sports?.
      6. What is the average time for defenses to react and after defenses react, does the player usually go cold?(Measures the average “hotness” of a player whether it occurs in minutes of a quarter, a quarter or the whole game).

      These are questions to ask. Food for thought.

  • Jae Park

    Why doesn’t the article mention anything about a player simply being more dominant in terms of ability and physicality? Players like Kobe and Bargs probably seem like they have the hot hand more often than others, simply because they’re more gifted than that of the person defending them, rather than some inherent glitch in the space-time continuum that gives them the “hot hand”.

  • Employee

    Anyone who has ever played basketball would say there is a hot hand. There’s just times when everything seems to click.

    What I think we’re saying here is that players tend to push their luck when their shots are falling.

    I think a lot of what we’re talking about is confidence. You can see when some players won’t even go for an open shot that they normally take if they just missed their last three attempts. When players shoot and start second guessing themselves that’s when the misses usually start compounding.

  • Bendit

    I was waiting to hear that other well worn colour commentary cliche “Let him shoot his way out of the slump”…or some derivative thereof.

    What do the numbers/stats say on this I wonder?

    Does anyone remember Jose taking all manner of shots on the same possession (4 off. rebs) . And didnt score!! It wasnt funny at the time and laid bare the cliche.

    • Nilanka15

      Ah yes, Leo Rautin’s favourite cliche…”Make till you miss, and miss till you make”.

  • Asfsafs

    if you’re focused and paying attention, you’re hot. if you’re spacing out and thinking about other things, you’re cold.

    you can make shots when you’re cold. you can miss shots when you’re hot.

    when you’re driving and you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting something, those couple seconds where time slows down is when you’re hot. if you can do it whenever you want and prolong that period of focus, then you’ll know there is such a thing as a hot hand.

    find some numbers to support it. just because you haven’t found the right things to track doesn’t disprove the theory. one study about it doesn’t mean you’ve disproved anything.

    • Tom Liston

      I would argue several players are focused and paying attention and not one bit hot.

  • Devin Dignam

    Yeah, there is no such thing as a hot hand…by random luck, even players who shoot 33% are going to have streaks where they make 12 or more shots in a row…I’ve made 12 threes in a row before, but I am not a good shooter. Luck happens, and in the midst of a lucky streak (that is almost 100% bound to happen, given enough playing time) players think they’re “hot”.

    And yes, players who think they’re hot force shots. Not only is it supported by the evidence, it also makes sense and is observable – if you know how to pay attention properly.

    • Tim W.

      You’re arguing semantics. Is it called luck or being hot? Who cares. It’s the same thing. And if players who think they’re hot force a shot or two and miss, why would they think they’re still hot? As I said above, if I hit a bunch of shots in a row, or hit something like 8 for 10, and then miss two in a row, I’m going to assume I’ve cooled off and act accordingly.

      Dumb players may continue to shoot, but who the hell wants those guys on your team?

      • Tom Liston

        “players may continue to shoot, but who the hell wants those guys on your team?”
        This is the whole point of the study! They do, to the detriment of their team.

        “If everyone on the team behaves this way, it costs the average team 4.5 wins per season.” Certainly not everyone does, but its been demonstrated that many do.

        I have a lot of respect for your knowledge of basketball. Given this, I’ve just named you head coach of the Vancouver Defenders.

        Andrea Bargnani is on fire. He’s hit 6 of 7 jumpers to start the game and a Raptors’ run forces you to call a timeout.

        1) What does Jay Triano say in the timeout to set up the next few plays?
        2) What is Jose Calderon thinking about who to get the ball to the next couple of plays?
        3) Who is demanding the ball the next few plays?
        4) What do you tell Bargnani’s defender in the timeout?
        5) What do you tell your power forward in the timeout?

        6) What’s the most likely result of the Raptors next possession?

        • Tim W.

          Well, first of all, thank you. I don’t know if I can accept the job, as it would take up a lot of time, but I do it this one time. Also, I’m thrilled that Vancouver finally has another team again. I guess we’ll have to work on that name, though.

          As for the questions…
          1. I assume Triano is telling his guys to get the ball to Bargnani because he’s hot. But not just getting Bargnani the ball, but getting him open shots.
          2. Jose is obviously thinking about getting the ball to Bargnani if he can.
          3. I assume Bargnani will be demanding the ball.
          4 & 5 (I would put my PF on Bargnani, since that’s the best defender for him, usually) I wouldn’t say anything different than I would say normally. Defend your man.
          6. The most likely result of the next Raptor possession would depend on how well the Raptors ran their offense, and how my players reacted to it. But if they can get him even a half contested shot, I’d say there’s a good chance it will go in. In basketball, you have to realize that sometimes players simply get hot

          And if Bargnani misses the shot, it doesn’t back up the theory, because he was still hot. If he takes a bunch of bad shots after that and misses, then that’s simply his fault.

      • Devin Dignam

        Well the difference between luck and being hot is that luck is random, and that when you’re “hot”, you’re supposed to be more likely to make a shot. And as I said, the streaks we see players make do not differ from chance – a 50% shooter has as many (or fewer) streaks of 12 consecutively made shots as we’d expect from a 50% shooter. If “being hot” actually existed, we’d find that 50% shooters had more streaks of 12 consecutively made shots than we’d come to expect from a 50% shooter. You can replace 12 shots with whatever number you want, and the answer is still the same.

        Given enough attempts (the law of large numbers), even mediocre shooters like me will hit 12 in a row eventually. It’s only a matter of time.

        Here’s some more reading if you’re interested:

  • paul

    This study doesn’t take into account full on hot streak games. Kobe shot almost 61% the night he dropped 81, I’d call that a hot streak. Jon Diebler from OSU is 17 for his last 20 from 3, I’d call that a hot streak. Some players are better at keeping hot streaks going and some just start chucking when they think they’re getting hot. There’s too many variables here to totally disprove the hot streak

    • Tom Liston

      You’re right – its very hard to disprove the existence of hot streaks (I should have used another title).
      But that doesn’t dismiss all the other conclusions that were made. Teams can learn from this data.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    Great article as always. Your previous volume – #14 – could’ve been Volume 14, 15, and 16, as there was so much to absorb. At one point, I thought maybe you had recently read “War and Peace”, and were being influenced by the sheer volume of that book. lol

    Speaking of War and Peace, some days that’s what it feels like on here.

    As to this current report, I thought it offered some “constructive” criticism for our two main scorers. For a Coach, I can see how this would influence strategies when it comes to the “hot” player.

    Adjusting for that cool off period when a player sits too long (like Andrea & Demar), I would hope the Coach could learn to design specific plays to “reignite” that hot player. In Bargnani’s case, a Post Up play (and nothing else) would be more effective to getting that energy back. If the opportunity doesn’t present a high valued shot, then make sure AB knows to kick it out. The play can be rebooted, or Raps can wait till the next possession, to try a similar Post-up opportunity. Being patient also allows Raptors to minimize enhanced defensive focus – against the “hot” player.

    Same goes for Demar – in that by pushing him to attack the paint (upon re-entering the game), Derozan can attempt a higher percentage shot. And like Bargnani (when it comes to double coverages and such), Raps would apply the same patience to Demar’s next basket.

    By doing this, both our top players would have a better chance at returning to that “hot” status. Ensuring Demar & Andrea follow these “scripts”, would also allow for other player opportunities, and as such, the team could excel much better on the Offensive side.
    Anyways … great write-up Tom.

  • Tom Liston

    Here’s one takeaway that doesn’t need any analytical support:

    Whether it was both of Andrea Bargnani’s final second in OT attempts or Lebron James last night against the Bulls – or someone that’s hit five straight shots….

    When the whole building knows exactly what’s going to happen, your opponents probably do as well. They just may adjust.

    Why wasn’t Wade coming of a screen – even just to keep defenders honest? Or dump it to Bosh in the post for options to kick back to Wade or James? Why is Bargnani left on two isos with as deep of a two as one can get (both shots were from almost the exact same spot). You don’t think Humphries knew what was going on? He used to practice with Bargnani even.
    For example, how about a Calderon/Johnson PnR? They kind of have it down. Johnson averages 1.2 points per possession for PnR – ranked 21st in the league (source: SynergyScout). That’s kind of good. If its not there, you still likely have time for a Bargnani forced long two. But to have it as your first option…

    • Wayne

      Didn’t know that they held stats for PnR possessions, but pretty interesting take, thanks for that.

    • Statement

      It’s the same reason why baseball managers designate their best reliever for the 9th inning, despite it generally being a low pressure situation.

      Because it’s commonly accepted that you give the ball to your commonly accepted (at least by casual fans) best offensive player.

  • Buddahfan

    The Hot Hand definitely exists.

    The problem is in identifying when a player has a hot hand.

    For example if Amir makes two 20 foot shots in a row that does not mean he has a hot hand.

    When Sasha Vujacic makes 5 or 6 three point shots in a row in a game he definitely had a hot hand.

    The other problem is that statistically a player will always cool off and in the long run return to their norm. Therefore it is always unknown how long the hot hand will continue for. It could last for a few games or even more or end after one quarter.

    However, just because a hot hand ends after one quarter does not mean that the player did not have a hot hand in that quarter.