Aug 21 2008

Data Pet Peeve #1: Loose Ball Fouls & Rebounds

I’m always running into recurring issues with existing basketball data that cause me exercise my obsessive compulsiveness, so I’m going to start keeping track of those issues here. If they frustrate you just as much as they frustrate me then maybe someone will do something about it one day. Or not.

First on the list of my data pet peeves is the way loose ball fouls that lead to rebounds are recorded in play-by-play data. I’m on game #5 of 80 in the 2008 NBA playoffs tracking project, and I already cringe every time I see a loose ball foul that results in the opponent being rewarded a rebound.

I cringe because the rebound is credited first before the loose ball foul. Clearly this doesn’t make sense. If the ball is loose, then how can one team obtain possession before the foul? If PlayerX were to actually have made the rebound then we’d give him credit for it and call a personal (instead of loose ball) foul on PlayerY.

Why does this matter?

This is a huge deal to me because of the way I’m keeping track of (X,Y) coordinates of event locations. Everything is in relation to the offensive team, so if PlayerX actually had possession of a defensive rebound then the coordinates of the foul would be much different. Therefore, I’m forced to change every single one by hand. It’s resolved by a simple cut and paste, but those add up over time. It is a bane to my tracking efficiency.

Thanks a lot scoring software.

7 Comments on this post


  1. Data Pet Peeve #2: Offensive Rebounds & In-Air Shots wrote:

    […] didn’t take long for me to find my 2nd data pet peeve. This pet peeve is related to the first data pet peeve in that it involves rebounds and play-by-play […]

    August 21st, 2008 at 12:59 am
  2. grandpashabet wrote:
    April 27th, 2024 at 5:01 pm
  3. child porn wrote:

    Data Pet Peeve #1: Loose Ball Fouls

    April 30th, 2024 at 10:09 am
  4. child porn wrote:
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    June 11th, 2024 at 9:03 pm

  1. Phil Watkins said:

    My pet peeve is that the 2006 NBA data doesn’t seem to keep track of 3 pointers. I’m I missing something obvious or is the data somehow flawed? Every made shot seems to count as a 2 pointer for the entire season.

    December 20th, 2010 at 2:48 pm
  2. Manuel said:


    I’ve been working with your play-by-play data for my master thesis (by the way, thank you very much for making it available), and have solved a few issues regarding 3 pointers. I managed to generate a partial scoreline for every play and it seems to work correctly for most cases. I don’t mind sharing it. Let me know if that (or my work) is of any interest to you. I’ll be more than happy to talk about it.

    All the best

    March 14th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

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