Over the course of NBA history, thousands of players have donned jerseys, hit the courts, and played their way into the hearts of fans. It’s not too farfetched to think that these players have crossed paths – and they have. Each NBA player has a pretty broad “social network” based on the teams they’ve played for over many seasons.
To learn more about this phenomenon, we charted the player-to-player connections of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant across their careers. Check out the interactives below to see these interactions as the dots (players) and lines (that link them to other ballers).
Six Degrees of Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is gearing up for his third All-Star appearance. Curry, who was the seventh overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 draft, has amassed a respectable stash of stats over his seven seasons in the NBA. His resume includes NBA MVP in 2015, a national championship in the same year, and a single-season NBA record for 3-pointers (286); he’s also been named a finalist for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team.
The node graph shows Curry’s 69 connections, including court time with Nate Robinson. (Robinson started off his career with the Knicks and crossed paths with Curry and the Warriors during the 2012-13 season.) Curry also shot hoops with Monta Ellis, who played seven seasons with the Warriors.
The Kevin Durant Effect
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant was the second overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics (prior to the team’s relocation after his rookie season). Solidly in his ninth season, Durant is headed to his seventh All-Star Game. The 2014 NBA MVP has quite the stack of honors himself, which include 2008’s Rookie of the Year, four-time NBA scoring champ (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014), and 2010 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year; he’s also a 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team finalist.
Durant’s graph shows that he’s established 76 connections over the course of his career, sharing ties with teammate Nick Collison. Collison, a former KU standout, was also drafted by the Sonics (although in 2003). Ryan Bowen – another standout connection – was briefly a teammate in Oklahoma City during the 2009-10 season and is currently an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.
The NBA is not 30 individual teams that exist in their own universe – it’s a constellation of players who are connected to one another over years of court time. These two All-Stars have yet to play together on the same team, but who knows what the future will bring?
While you contemplate the extensive “social networks” of these players, take a moment to pick up your own All-Star gear from Fanatics.com.
Using NBA roster data from Basketball-Reference.com, we created a data set containing each player’s name as well as the associated teams and years. If he played for multiple years or multiple teams, each pairing counted separately. With 4,336 players on 104 teams, we were left with 23,919 player and team pairs over 70 seasons.
The second data set matched players who played together. This yielded 181,886 player-to-player pairs over 70 seasons. In this blog post, we looked at the connections for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant specifically.
See this: Kobe Bryant played with these NBA stars over his 20 year career