What “Play types” are the most popular for NBA Top Shot?

6 min readJul 24, 2022


# Intro

NFTs were one of the breakout use-cases of crypto in 2021. The NFT market has climbed to more than $40 billion in value, according to The 2021 NFT Market Report released by blockchain data company Chainalysis. NFTs were often in the mainstream news for many reasons. Notable examples include the artist Beeple selling a collection of his NFTs for $69 million through Christie’s auction house

# NBA Top Shot

NBA Top Shot is an NFT marketplace where sports fans can buy, sell and trade basketball video clips. Launched in 2020, NBA Top Shot is a partnership between the NBA and Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties. High-profile investors include the NBA legends Michael Jordan, Kevin Durrant and Klay Thompson.

The platform is run using Dapper Labs’s Flow blockchain, and gives users the ability to trade digital assets based on video clips from NBA games.

# What Are NBA Top Shot Moments?

Moments are the video highlight clips sold as NFTs on NBA Top Shot. Much like conventional sports trading cards, Moments increase value based on their rarity. The rarer the video clip, the higher its potential value as a collectible.

On its surface, a Moment is simply a video clip of a specific play — a LeBron James dunk or Steph Curry layup, for example. So why would anyone pay money for video highlights they can watch for free on YouTube?

Source: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/cryptocurrency/nba-top-shot

# NBA Top Shot Popularity

NBA Top Shot is the most popular NFT marketplace on the Flow blockchain with more than 1 million registered users. Recently, it surpassed $1B in total sales volume! So, when we analyze NBA Top Shot, you can be rest assured that we’re looking at one of the most popular NFT collections out there!

# Data Analysis

In this analysis, I’m looking at if the “Play type” attribute of NBA Top Shot NFTs has any affect on its sales. For every listing, there’s a corresponding “play type” specified as shown below.

Source: NBA Top Shot listing
Source: NBA Top Shot listing

## Sales Volume

Looking at the number of sales and sales volume, it’s clear that the “Rim” play type has be pretty popular. Overall, the number of daily sales has decreased pretty dramatically in July. This is likely because the NBA season is over.

Using a cumulative area chart, it’s clear that Rim is the most popular play type with 3 Pointer ranked #2.

Over time, the Rim play type has held about 40–50% share of the daily sales which is impressive!

## Buyer distribution

  • Comparing the buyer distribution for play types, we see a similar ranking — Rim, Assist followed by 3 Pointer.
  • Rim play type, accounts for 22.5% of the current holders while Assist accounts for 17.1%.

## Sales by team and play type

Another interesting way to slice the data is to see what impact the team popularity has on the play type buying patterns. Here, we use a scatter plot to plot the play types against the team names.

Note: Few team names like “Golden State Warriors” aren’t visible on the x-axis because of limited width. See the interactive dashboard for better visibility.

Here’s what we observe from the following charts:

  1. Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics have the highest number of sales. Most of these sales are in the Rim and 3 Pointer plays category.
  2. However, when viewing the sales volume in USD, Golden State Warriors is ahead of everyone.
  3. Significant number of sales for other teams such as Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz doesn’t translate to a large enough sales volume compared to Golden State Warriors. This could also be because Golden State Warriors were the NBA champions this year. So, one could say being the NBA champion (or at least making the finals) has a direct correlation with the NBA TopShot sales volume.

# Breaking out WNBA data

So far, the data we’ve looked at has included both the NBA and WNBA teams. Yep, NBA TopShot marketplaces also features NFTs from the women’s league.

For the next part of the analysis, here’s how the teams were split.

First, let’s compare the overall sales numbers.

## Overall Sales — NBA

## Overall Sales — WNBA

## Comparing NBA and WNBA sales

Based on the overall numbers, we can observe:

  • WNBA has 6 play type categories compared to 9 for NBA. 2 Pointer, Steal and Dunk/Layup are missing from WNBA NFTs.
  • Rim is the top play type for both the leagues.
  • The number of sales for NBA Rim are ~4x that of WNBA Rim (101K vs 25K).
  • The sales volume for Rim category for NBA is ~9x that of WNBA (2.71M vs 299K).

We can use a radar chart to view the differences between the two leagues and see how big the difference is between the two leagues.

NOTE: Use the combined option to view the data on the same chart.

## WNBA Sales over time

Looking at the WNBA sales over time, we immediately see that the sales transactions kick off around end of May. Notice that the NBA had significant sales in April and May as well while WNBA shows nearly 0 sales.

Why is this? It’s because the WNBA 2022 season kicked off in May so it took some time for the NFT highlights to be built and gain popularity.

## WNBA Sales by team and play type

Now we user our previous scatter plots and isolate data from WNBA and can see how teams impact the sales for play types.

Here we see that the leaders for number of sales are Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks.

  • However, when we look at the sales volume in USD, we see Atlanta Dream overtake Washington Mystics!
  • Los Angeles Sparks is the leader here with nearly 70K sales volume for the Rim play type.
  • Atlanta Dream has a high sales volume in the Block play type despite having a low number of sales.

# Conclusion

In this analysis, we discovered:

  1. Rim is the most popular play type by number of sales and sales volume (USD) for both NBA and WNBA leagues.
  2. NBA sales volume ranges from 3x-9x that of WNBA sales.

# Interactive Dashboard

All the above charts can be seen on the following interactive dashboard.


# Conclusion




Product strategy by day. On-chain crypto analyst by night.