Simulating game results

Could the Warriors score 200 points in a single game? To find out, I set up a probability-based simulation of the Warriors scoring and tested it one million times to see if I could find any plausible scenario in which they would score 200 points.

Click on the image above to sift through the first 10,000 simulated games in Tableau and look at how Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson shot. This histogram summarizes the game results:

I set up a program to simulate how Thompson’s career would have played out in a universe where the hot hand does NOT exist. Using rbinom in R I generated random 1s and 0s from the binomial distribution to represent his 3-point makes and misses, replicating his career 42 percent shooting from deep. I plugged in Thompson’s actual log of 3-point attempts by game (a range from 0 to 24 3-point attempts) and then simulated the first 600 games of his career 10,000 times. This simulation process gives us a sense for the range of possible outcomes in a world without the hot hand which we can compare to Thompson’s actual career shooting for evidence of a hot-hand effect.

For FiveThirtyEight I simulated NCAA tournament upsets based on average efficiency margin per possession and the number of possessions played (i.e., the pace of play).

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