How many high school stars make it in the NBA?

Category: Best visualization (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: United States

Organisation: The Pudding

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 27/02/2019

Credit: Russell Goldenberg, Amber Thomas

Project description:

Remember NBA great Donnell Harvey? Neither do we. Despite being the #1 high school recruit in 2000—something that you think would indicate future NBA stardom—he put together a meager career in the league, averaging around 5 points per game over 5 years. On the flip side is LeBron James—the #1 high school recruit just a few years later—and we all know what he’s been up to.

This disparity got us thinking, are these top 100 recruit lists any indication of making it to the NBA, let alone becoming a star?

Impact reached:

The project sprouted from a central question: How many high school stars make it in the NBA? We used repitition and small multiples to address answer it once and for all from multiple angles:

  • What about Top 100 High School Players?
  • What about Top 10 High School Players?
  • What about Straight-to-NBA HS Players?
  • What about Drafted Top & Unranked HS Players?
    What about Players from Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and UNC (top schools)?

Techniques/technologies used:

Data was scraped from Basketball Reference using node.js. The front-end was built using Javascript, D3.js, and Canvas.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The most challenging part was building out the bouncing ball animations.

  1. We wanted to make sure that the animation wasn’t so overwhelming and that you could follow the dots from level to level.
  2. We wanted to allow users to explore each dot, but only after the animation finished.
  3. We wanted to attach some names to dots so that you could have some wayfinders.
  4. And we wanted the animations to play, replay, and stop in an intuitive way.

What can others learn from this project?

Sometimes you don’t need a traditional chart to produce compelling data viz — sometimes you just need to following the bouncing ball.

Project links: