Data Viz Done Right

July 15, 2018

Makeover Monday: Historical NBA Team Salaries Against the Cap in the Salary Cap Era

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I've been complaining to Eva the past few weeks about her choices of data sets. She basically tells me to suck it up and moves on. Tough love! So what better way for me to respond than to give her some sports data to play with. (I've given her some hints on how to approach it.)

Let's start by reviewing the original viz from What's the Cap?:


What works well?

  • Title and subtitle clearly explain what the chart is about
  • Good labelling of the y-axis
  • Using colors that are easy to distinguish from each other
  • Quick interactivity on the tooltips
  • Using lines for three of the metrics works well for time series data

What could be improved?

  • Over other season is labeled, which isn't hard to figure out, but it looks messy
  • Season labels are on a diagonal; make them horizontal
  • Make the salary cap a line as well for consistency
  • The legend could use some work. Why are they boxes?
  • There's no option to pick a team. What if I want to know my favorite team's salary vs. the salary cap?

What I did

  • I wanted to show all teams so that they could be compared. I settled on a dot plot for each season.
  • I created a calculation to get the starting year for each season so that the x-axis labels would look nicer and could be displayed horizontally.
  • I made the focus on the variance to the salary cap. I had no idea so many teams were over the salary cap.
  • I included a line that displays the NBA average of the variance to the cap for the team selected (via a parameter).
  • Since teams have moved to other cities and changed names, I created a calculation to make them franchises.


To understand how many outliers there were, I used box plots and hid the marks behind the boxes.


The problem I saw with this, though, was that I didn't feel like I had much context for the distribution of the teams, even though that it the point of a box plot. I decided to scrap the box plot and created this version in the end.

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