Where NBA players make shots during games may seem random, but when you put it all together, a pattern emerges, according to this chart by Court Vision Analytics blogger Kirk Goldsberry of every shot in the 2011-2012 NBA season.
The warmer the color, the more points per attempt players received. The bigger the shape, the more shots were attempted. Compare the symmetry and patterns of this chart to the shot chart of game 5 in the Oklahoma Thunder/Miami Heat finals this season. A single game looks comparatively sporadic.
Clearly, some areas are more successful for players overall. And even the successful mid-range players have more favored spots, judging by the whiter spaces on the court.
Meanwhile, the dark orange spots on the far right and left side of the court show that players tend to earn most of their 3-pointers there. It's a popular shot because it's worth 50 percent more points than shots that are a few feet closer, Goldsberry says. "The increase in reward is well worth the slight increase in risk."
For more analysis, head on over to Court Vision.