“I’d love to help I’ve read your previous articles, and am not a big fan of doing t tests and stuff like that, but I love talking sports and sports statistics. From my own experience and from what I hear/ read all the time in the NBA, I’d say the three things that left handers are known for is blocks/steals, shooting, and something not common but could be your personal point is craftiness.”

Brad has been one of my first friends since I first stepped foot on Purdue University’s campus. we quickly became good friends when we found out we shared a common interest in ditching our freshman orientation group and activities to go to the gym and play pick-up basketball for hours.

I remember the first time we played basketball, Brad would jokingly/condescendingly guard me with one finger. Standing at 6’7,” he was still a rather formidable defender even though he only raised one finger to block my shot. (For the record I have never been blocked or swatted by his one-finger defense.) Eventually as we played more frequently, he started using his whole hand to defend me, and the one finger defense stopped. (Whether it was out of desperation because he was actually scared I would score on him, or out of respect, I’m not sure…) Also, the more we played together, I inevitably noticed more and more that he was also one of the few people out of my friends who shot with his left handed and is actually a left-handed person. But back then I didn’t think too much about the advantages of being left handed on the court…I saw it at face value.

Fast forward three years we are both now in our junior year of college. With school, busyness, new friends, and both of us moving off campus to separate corners of Purdue, the regular walks to church on Sunday mornings became scarce. We began to see each other less and less. Other than the occasional jab at each other’s favorite NBA team (mine the Dallas Mavericks and his the OKC Thunder), we barely kept in touch. Over winter break, while I was in Europe I decided to reach out to him because I was brainstorming ideas to write about for my research paper (Newest Research Project Announcement!) and he was one of the smartest NBA nuts I knew in my social circles.

Brad was very supportive in giving me encouragement, at the time I had big dreams on wanting to enter a paper, and participating in the Hackathon this year (SSAC’17 Hackathon), but I also felt a little intimidated by the unknowns that came with each opportunity.

Yesterday I hit a mental roadblock again as I was approaching my deadline to meet with Professor Mario, who is mentoring me through my research project and again I asked Brad for his opinion. I’m so happy I asked, not only because he gave me his insight, but he referenced a  couple of my articles, so he had been following my progress.

Here are the valuable insights he gave me summarized:

-Leftys usually have 3 advantages:

  1. Defense
  2. Shooting
  3. Craftiness (or what I’ve been calling spatial reasoning in past articles)

-Defense

  • Can be quantified by looking at average number of blocks because Left Handed defenders don’t have to reach around their body to block someone’s Right Handed shot (norm)
  • Can be quantified by rebounds because Leftys can usually jump up and snatch it. The offender is probably using his right hand so the Lefty is oriented in a way as a defender where the ball is closer to just snatch and take off/ or make an outlet pass

Note: Be careful to compare players with similar positions and minutes

-Shooting

  • Can be quantified with 3 pointer shooting percentage, true shooting percentage, and “close out” shooting percentage
    • This is considered because leftys usually have to develop their own shot because it’s unnatural to imitate another player’s who is usually right handed so they develop a more efficient and personalized shot
    • Defenders are used to defending a right handed shooter so left handed players could get them off balance more easily

-Craftiness/Spatial Reasoning

  • Can be quantified with number of times sent to the free throw line…or free throw percentage but that maybe more considered for shooting in the previous point. This is to show their ability to be agile and attack the basket
  • Can be quantified with number of rebounds. This is to show their ability to be in the right place at the right time, especially for guard getting rebounds….

I definitely feel a little better since I wrote Catch 22…thanks Brad, I’m grateful to have baller friends like you!

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