Zhou: Stats of the Last Shot

Senior Lou Zhou reported in chapel on his independent study in sports analytics with Math Instructor Darin Clifft. Using random forest decision making and statistical computing, he quantified NBA players’ ability to make the last shot in a game, calling it DAWG, for Daggers Adequately Winning Games. “Through a combination of a metric which measures the importance or pressure of each shot as well as a metric which defines the difficulty of the shot, we can describe using math a player’s ability to hit that last shot.” Among his Top-10 were DeMar DeRozan, Trae Young, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry, players “known pretty well for their clutch shooting ability.”
While introducing Zhou, Clifft said he originally thought the independent study would be easy for him. “We would delve into the topic of multivariate regression, of which I was familiar, in order to predict whatever Lou was looking into,” Clifft said. "But, STATS students of mine, Lou’s variable is a QUALITATIVE ONE and not a QUANTITATIVE ONE, and thus not appropriate for this type of analysis. So, Lou took it upon himself to find a new avenue of analysis called random forest decision making and, for those AP STATS students of mine, a new statistic besides sample proportion, mean, midrange, etc. to use as an evaluation tool. Statistical computing has come a long way since my college days.”