4/12/2011

Is there a "hot hand" in NBA basketball?

The end of the long NBA season is on the horizon, and that means that many people - including lawyers - will be watching more basketball. Some may feel guilty about stepping up their TV viewing, mistakenly believing that even the NBA Finals are just "games," and that serious law work ought to be given precedence.

If you're among those who will be watching more and feeling guilty, you will be pleased to learn that there's a serious side to NBA basketball too, and it has to do with statistics. Apparently, lots of folks believe that there's no such thing as a "hot hand" in baskeball. In other words, missed shots are as likely to follow hits as more hits, and the notion that Kobe or LeBron can't miss when they're "hot" is just a myth.

Oregon State Economics Professor Daniel F. Stone has given this belief some serious attention, and has come to the conclusion that the "hot hand" may not be a "myth" after all. Statistically-minded readers will find Professor Stone's reasoning in A Note on Measurement Error and the Hot Hand.