FiveThirtyEight has received its fair share of criticism (from others and me), thus I find it appropriate (and necessary) to also give credit when due. Some of the earlier criticism was regarding the fact that FiveThirtyEight did stories on random topics that were not exactly relevant. They could tell you about the hundreds of playoff games in the past five seasons, but they did little analysis on the current playoffs.
It’s nice to see them adjust. Specifically, much credit goes to Ian Levy, who has provided tremendous analysis of the NBA Playoffs. Levy’s articles are often specifically related to an individual game. For example, he has an article on the Pacers’ rebounding troubles in Game 5 against the Wizards. Here’s an article on how the “Thunder may have just discovered an amazing new lineup” during its game against the Clippers. And here’s an article on how the Miami Heat couldn’t defend the pick and roll in Game 1 against the Pacers.
I’m not sure if FiveThirtyEight recognized the need for an adjustment and made a conscious effort to change, or if they simply brought Levy on board and this is all his doing. Either way, the future looks a bit brighter for FiveThirtyEight.
Recently, I made comments that “whereas FiveThirtyEight seemingly incorporates journalism into data, the Washington Post is seemingly incorporating data into journalism.” (The Post unveiled a new sports analytics section, under the direction of Neil Greenberg.) If you scan the articles from The Post, you’ll find articles similar to Levy’s - articles that analyze a single game, player, team, etc.
I believe this kind of writing is what most fans desire. Yes, FiveThirtyEight can (and will) continue to provide interesting tidbits and trends from looking at years of data. But, it should continue to focus more on the analysis of current games.
FiveThirtyEight is becoming more of a journalism site and less of a data site.
That’s a good thing.