Examining the 'gravity' outliers

For the most part, the gravity of NBA players as measured by SportVU tracking data conforms to conventional wisdom. When SportVU's two gravity metrics -- gravity score and distraction score -- are combined by our Tom Haberstroh into what he terms defensive "respect," the leaders are mostly elite shooters, while nonscorers rank near the bottom of the list.

However, the relationship isn't always perfect. There are some players (besides Dwyane Wade, profiled yesterday) who rank higher or lower than we might expect based on their skill sets. While we don't have Scully and Mulder to help, we can still dig deeper into the dark matter of these counterexamples: The gravity "X-Files."


Michael Carter-Williams | PG | Philadelphia 76ers

Respect rank: 30

Carter-Williams exemplifies one truism proven out by SportVU data: When it comes to spacing, taking 3s is more important than whether they go in. The percentage of shots a player attempts from beyond the arc correlates more strongly to distraction score than 3-point percentage. That's particularly true in the case of Carter-Williams, whose 26.4 percent 3-point shooting as a rookie was one of the lowest marks in NBA history for someone with at least 200 attempts. Yet defenses were still hesitant to double off Carter-Williams, perhaps because few Sixers teammates commanded a double-team.

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins | C | Sacramento Kings

Respect rank: 311