NBA Player Descriptions

An explosive high IQ scrappy tenacious athlete.

Michael Lai does a lot of analysis. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all the same or if they’re actually coming up with some new and novel way to describe people every time.

I scraped 761 player profile pages, such as this one, from between 2000-2015 and used Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to model what topics writers were talking about.


Each topic encompasses a position, along with their desirable attributes. The point guard and power forward positions oddly share a the phrase “mid range”.

The positions are accurately categorized by the topics! This confirms that the writing and model capture positions correctly. img

There’s also a very odd relationship between the clusters and the years that fall into those clusters. img

Since the two clusters containing these years also both contained the phrase mid range, I dug into the frequency of the occurrence of midrange.


From the chart we can see that the usage of the phrase mid range is going out of style. Today’s NBA is focused on efficiency, and it seems like writers are following that trend too.

Apparently no one cares about midrange basketball anymore, not even NBA writers. So long Kobe and MJ. Hello Steph Curry.

The chart below helped me better understand my data.

It’s interactive! Click on the vertical axis to filter out different lines. It’s an easy way to filter each cluster in terms of year, pick, position, height, and weight.