On the ESPN-affiliated Minnesota Timberwolves blog, "A Wolf Among Wolves," staff writer Zach Harper uses a handful of different data sets and graphics for his story about the Wolves' 3-point-shooting. In sports, in-depth analytical writers have more-so recently began using these intricate data sets in their stories to present an argument. This change comes along with what has been somewhat a statistical and analytical revolution for all sports, especially basketball.
In Harper's story, his goal is to present how poorly the Minnesota Timberwolves have shot from behind the 3-point line this season and how the team's shooting rates will only go up as the season goes on. First, he uses a scatter plot to show the percentages of how each of the Wolves players have shot uncontested threes this year. He also included a spreadsheet with percentages of open threes, as well as contested three-pointers by each of the players. Harper finishes his story with a graphic showing the team's three-point percentages from different areas on the court. This high level of analytics has been a recurring theme in in-depth sports writing the past few years.
Harper needed an understanding of Microsoft Xcel and an ability to generate and alter graphics to effectively display his argument. Using these graphics give the reader a visual understanding of the points he is trying to make it; it makes it much easier for the writer to describe his argument without being too wordy or articulate. Harper and many other writers have been using these data sets and graphics in their stories for the past couple years, thus creating an even better environment for fans and readers to gain a greater understanding of the sports they love.