Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mathematics and Statistics

Committee Chair(s)

Jürgen Symanzik


Jürgen Symanzik


Brennan Bean


Kevin Moon


Basketball players have historically been classified based on one of five positions, namely Point Guards, Shooting Guards, Small Forwards, and Centers. While grouping players into these five categories may provide general descriptions of their perceived role, these standard positions fall short of describing players based on their true abilities and performance. This MS thesis proposes a method to group players of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from the past 20 seasons into more meaningful and specific player positions. We systematically group these players into nine distinct categories, and we draw from a vast array of visualization tools, techniques, and software to view and analyze these new player positions and compare them to the standard roles currently used by the basketball community. These visualization tools and methods allow us to view highly complex data with many variables in low-dimensional plots that are both meaningful and interpretable. Each season’s nine player positions are then grouped into nine overall positions across the 20-year span and their unique attributes and behaviors will be explored in depth. All of the player tables, the individual player position assignments, and many other relevant data tables are assembled and included on a single online repository for public access and use.