The Splash Brothers, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson, are great shooters but they are not streak shooters. Only rarely do they show signs of a hot hand. This counter-intuitive result is based on an empirical analysis of field goal and free throw data from the 82 regular season games and 17 post season games played by the Golden State Warriors in 2016–2017. Inspired by the iconic but flawed 1985 hot-hand study by Thomas Gilovich, Robert Vallone and Amos Tversky, as well as Josh Miller and Adam Sanjurjo’s 2015 fascinating correction to that study, we continue the dialog about how humans misperceive randomness, and we show how modern data science can improve on traditional statistical analysis in sports and in finance.
Lisa Goldberg is Adjunct Professor of Economics and Statistics and co-Director of CDAR at UC Berkeley, and Director of Research at Aperio Group. Her interests include financial economics, statistical evaluation of investment strategies, asset allocation, credit and counterparty risk, socially responsible investing, and the statistics of basketball.
Photograph by Ken Ribet