Are NBA Video Games Representing the Real Game? A Statistical Comparison of Phoenix Suns' Shooting Patterns and their Video Game Counterpart
This paper intends to analyze the Phoenix Suns' shooting patterns in real NBA games, and compare them to the "NBA 2k16" Suns' shooting patterns. Data was collected from the first five Suns' games of the 2015-2016 season and the same games played in "NBA 2k16". The findings of this paper indicate that "NBA 2k16" utilizes statistical findings to model their gameplay. It was also determined that "NBA 2k16" modeled the shooting patterns of the Suns in the first five games of the 2015-2016 season very closely. Both, the real Suns' games and the "NBA 2k16" Suns' games, showed a higher probability of success for shots taken in the first eight seconds of the shot clock than the last eight seconds of the shot clock. Similarly, both game types illustrated a trend that the probability of success for a shot increases as a player holds onto a ball longer. This result was not expected for either game type, however, "NBA 2k16" modeled the findings consistent with real Suns' games. The video game modeled the Suns with significantly more passes per possession than the real Suns' games, while they also showed a trend that more passes per possession has a significant effect on the outcome of the shot. This trend was not present in the real Suns' games, however literature supports this finding. Also, "NBA 2k16" did not correctly model the allocation of team shots for each player, however, the differences were found only in bench players. Lastly, "NBA 2k16" did not correctly allocate shots across the seven regions for Eric Bledsoe, however, there was no evidence indicating that the game did not correctly model the allocation of shots for the other starters, as well as the probability of success across the regions.