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What does latitude, longitude, and x,y positions mean in basketball?

These terms are from here, corresponding to 'lat', 'lon', 'loc_x', and 'loc_y'.

I would appreciate an explanation in layman's terms, since I'm not familiar with any aspects of basketball.

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I've noticed that the values of 'lat' and 'lon' fall near 34 degrees and -118 degrees, respectively. 'loc_x' and 'loc_y' are both 0 for 'dunk's and 'layup's that the mentioned basketball player made.

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Here are some of the dataset:

action_type,combined_shot_type,game_event_id,game_id,lat,loc_x,loc_y,lon,minutes_remaining,period,playoffs,season,seconds_remaining,shot_distance,shot_made_flag,shot_type,shot_zone_area,shot_zone_basic,shot_zone_range,team_id,team_name,game_date,matchup,opponent,shot_id
Jump Shot,Jump Shot,12,20000012,34.0443,-157,0,-118.4268,10,1,0,2000-01,22,15,0,2PT Field Goal,Left Side(L),Mid-Range,8-16 ft.,1610612747,Los Angeles Lakers,2000-10-31,LAL @ POR,POR,2
Jump Shot,Jump Shot,35,20000012,33.9093,-101,135,-118.3708,7,1,0,2000-01,45,16,1,2PT Field Goal,Left Side Center(LC),Mid-Range,16-24 ft.,1610612747,Los Angeles Lakers,2000-10-31,LAL @ POR,POR,3
  • Just a note...variables from a dataset may or may not help you become more familiar with basketball. Looking at said dataset (which isn't available without signing in to Kaggle -- so a sample would be appreciated), there's nothing to suggest these are standardized terms and could potentially be specific for the purposes of this dataset. – user527 May 30 '16 at 13:46
  • I highly doubt that the dataset is not standardized. It supposedly contains all of the shots attempted by the basketball player since the start of his career. – stock username May 31 '16 at 2:21
  • The terms you ask about may be important from a dataset perspective, but I have never heard these terms used in a layman basketball perspective. – user16112 Mar 13 at 12:49
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LOC_X and LOC_Y are what you want to look at; those are the location on the floor. X is left-right along the endline with 0 centered at the basket (negative numbers left of the basket if the basket is on the bottom of the chart), and Y is positive towards halfcourt with 0 being at the basket (so very small negative numbers are possible, since the basket hangs just over the baseline).

See this R tutorial for more information. The NBA doesn't actually suggest people use these data, so they don't publish a glossary, but this page does a good job of explaining it.

The latitude/longitude I suspect is useless information; the values are approximately equal to Los Angeles's Lat/Lon even when playing an away game, so they really make no sense.

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