– Advanced stats are changing the game and leaving some big markets behind (from Kevin Pelton ESPN):
– Avery Bradley’s new commitment to film study helping Boston Celtics (from Jay King, masslive.com):
” Looking to improve his help defense, Bradley said he has committed to studying every opponent. Over the three games since the All-Star break, he has averaged 4.3 steals per game, including a career-high six in Monday’s win against the Phoenix Suns.
“I watch so much film,” he said after the 115-110 victory, calling his new focus on game tape “a big difference.”
“I always knew that I could really help my team out on one-on-one defense,” Bradley explained. “But I wanted to become a better team defensive player. And I really feel like I’m improving because I watch film and I know where to pick my spots. It’s helping me get steals as well.”
As the 24-year-old put it last season, “They want me to calm down a little bit more, not be so reckless, I guess you could say, on defense. They want me to be disciplined, pick my spots every now and then, pick up full-court but get back and play angles. They’re just trying to make me into a great team defender, as well as an individual defender.”
– Department of Defense (from Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland.com):
” Chris Paul is considered one of the best defenders in the NBA. But we don’t have any charts or advanced metrics to prove that conventional wisdom. In fact, while the statistics we use to judge offensive play have never been more thorough and complex, defensive analytics are still overly reliant on age-old tallies like steals and blocks.
But thanks to the player-tracking revolution, that’s about to change.
The antiquated nature of defensive stats affects everything from sports bar spats to free-agent contract negotiations. As basketball races headlong into its own version of the big data era, this has to change. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few outside groups, a vast majority of progress in this area is occurring behind the locked doors of practice facilities because of league rules. And while some teams may be cracking the codes of defensive analytics, they sure as hell aren’t sharing their findings with the public.
This research may not change basketball forever, but it represents an important publicly readable step in the evaluation of defensive play in the NBA. There are still many challenges in understanding defensive performance; with no prior knowledge about a team’s principles and rotations, it’s very difficult to know what a defender is supposed to do. But until Gregg Popovich and Tom Thibodeau start publishing their defensive playbooks, we’re just going to have to make educated guesses. Regardless, while there will probably always be an analytical bias that leans toward offense, this work is evidence that the integration of statistical modeling, computation, and player tracking offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve our understanding of defensive play.”
Read and view it here: http://grantland.com/features/department-of-defense/
– Washington Wizards: Best-Shooting Mediocre Offense in the Modern NBA Era (from Kyle Weidie, truthaboutit.net):
– Small ball working again for the Nets (from Brian Erni, snynets.com):
– Amar’e Stoudemire: Fitting In (from Perry mattern, mavsoutsider.com):
How will Stat fit in with the various groupings?
– Sixers’ defensive identity missing ( from Keith Pompey, philly.com):
“…(Y)ou come in with 6-foot guards and not 6-6 guards where you could switch and do some things and it puts a real premium on how you can do pick-and-roll defense which is really the sport in many ways,” Brown said before the game. “And so from that perspective, it changes dramatically.”
However, the Sixers are much better shooting team – especially from long range.
– NBA’s new replay center helping ‘get the call right’ (from Jeff Zilgitt, USAToday):
– Preemptive strikes drive stir of action at NBA trade deadline (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):
” Thursday’s record-setting deadline, which saw 11 trades involving 37 players, was driven in large part by a number of teams making key contractual decisions before they were required to do so. Last week’s preemptive trades were largely defensive, aimed at shipping out players who might later prove to be too expensive to keep or who might bolt for nothing in free agency. The general goal was avoiding a roster apocalypse down the road, rather than achieving immediate world domination.
A quick survey of Thursday’s notable deals underscores just how prevalent this preemptive philosophy was across the league. Contenders and rebuilders alike opted to make crucial roster decisions midseason rather than waiting until the summer.”
– Meet Rock Star Pastor Carl Lentz, Spiritual Guide to NBA Elite (from Jared Zwerling, Bleacher Report):
QOTD (from George Karl): “I’ve watched on film. We have all these gaps we’re not taking advantage of because they want to run the play. They’re used to being yelled at for not running the play. Now they’re being yelled at for not breaking it.”
QOTD #2 (from Mattthew Tynan, responding to the Chuckster instigated “controversy”): “(T)his isn’t about analytics vs anti-analytics, it’s about using as much info as you can from every angle to create the best product.”
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Jerryd Bayless/ Jared Dudley: http://behindthebuckpass.com/2015/02/24/isnt-anybody-talking-jerryd-bayless/
– Reggie Jackson/ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/02/pistons_patter_reggie_jacksons.html
– Jerami Grant: http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150224-grant-work
– Al-Farouq Aminu/Amar’e Stoudamire: http://espn.go.com/dallas/hot/?id=12370159
– Unsung Hero Taj Gibson Is Quietly Responsible for Much of Bulls’ Success (from Sean Highkin, Bleacher Report):
” “Taj, he probably doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for our team,” Thibodeau said. “He’s our best low-post defender; whatever you ask him to do he does. He’s not out there pounding his chest. Just go out there and get the job done. He’s one of those guys, you know everyone talks about having a warrior mentality. Well Taj does. He’s got a lot of toughness.””
– Did anything really change? (From Paul Flannery, SBNation):
” Almost 10 percent of the NBA was traded on Thursday in 11 deals ranging from a shocking point guard shuffle involving five different franchises to the sublime return of Kevin Garnett to Minnesota. Some deals were obvious and some were stunners that nearly broke Twitter.
The unexpected chaos that enveloped the final hectic minutes of the deadline left the league’s preeminent news breaker to simply type “good lord” at one point. (Bless ya, Woj.) More than half the teams in the league were involved in some kind of deal on deadline day and a half-dozen more made moves leading up to the grand finale.
But after all the posturing, maneuvering and deal breaking was over, we’re left with a simple question: Did anything really change?”
– Karl hopes to bring stability to Kings (from James Ham, cowbellkingdom.com):
– Change is Brad Stevens’ biggest challenge (from Chris Forsberg, ESPN):
” In the days before the All-Star break, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if his team’s recent success could be traced in part to roster continuity. Stevens chuckled at the suggestion, but later admitted that three weeks without a roster move might truly have represented a lengthy period of time for a team that’s seen its player swap uniforms more frequently than famed halftime act, Quick Change.
The Celtics have employed a staggering 40 players since the formal start of the 2014-15 season. You could fill three NBA teams (or maybe two NBA teams and a D-League squad) with players that have been on the roster.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his staff have executed 11 trades involving 25 players since early July, all with the ultimate goal of accelerating Boston’s return to contender status. Stevens expected change when he signed a six-year deal to become Boston’s coach in July 2013. But, well, even he probably didn’t anticipate this much change.
The 38-year-old coach hasn’t masked the frustrations of the rebuilding process, particularly his team’s struggles with consistency in the 134 games since he’s taken the helm (Boston is 45-89 in that span). And while Stevens fully understands what the team is building towards, it doesn’t make the constant state of flux any easier to endure in the moment.”
– After three deep playoff runs, Spurs paying a price (from Jeff McDonald, expressnews.com):
– Pistons’ Post-Trades Outlook (from David Mayo, mlive.com):
– Poor 3-point shooting is hurting the slumping Wizards (from Jesus Gomez, SBNation):
–Demystification — Defining Basketball Analytics Down (from Seth Partnow, nyloncalculus.com):
” That there is perceived to be a wall between the two camps, or between numbers-intensive analysis and game film-based scouting, then, is largely a failure on the side of analytics. Contrary to the beliefs of some voices hollering in the wilderness, the professionals were doing things pretty ok before the quants came along. There were certainly areas for improvement, but they weren’t just throwing darts. Most of the players believed to be great under the new school were recognized as such by the old school and vice versa. Traditional scouting has done a reasonably good job, on aggregate, of slotting players into the right order in the draft.5 The new methods must be demonstrated to be an improvement. The onus is on the new methods to explain themselves.
In the legal arena this is known as the burden of persuasion. Persuasion. Yet the language used is often more exclusionary than inviting. “Metrics,” “studies,” and “models” are fancy sounding words that serve to simultaneously make the achievements seem more impressive but also less welcoming. The use of this terminology is understandable: describing something as a “metric” rather than just a “stat” is meant to imply a certain progressiveness of thought, a signifier that I’ve moved beyond “Yay, points!” as a good means of judging talent. To some degree, it’s perhaps a more accurate use of the language. But we probably go too far too often and end up sounding more than a little douchey to the not-already-converted
It’s also important to be clear on what analytics is not. It’s refinement, not reinvention.
Further, while some of the insights coming forth are truly PhD-level7, most of it isn’t that hard. At least, not that hard from a technical or mathematical perspective. It’s much more about the logic. “What question am I trying to answer?” is often the most important question, followed closely by, “Do the tools I’ve chosen answer that as well as possible, given what’s available?”
QOTD (from Steve Kerr on the Hack-a-tactic): ” the NBA is the only league… that allows this…In college basketball, the international game, do that and it’s two shots (for the opposition) and the ball… the idea that we can just run over and grab someone, do it 10 straight times and think that’s good for our business…that’s insane. People are paying a lot of money to watch this game. It’s boring. Nobody wants to watch that.”
Additional Player Updates:
– Austin Rivers: http://www.nba.com/clippers/rivers-150221
– Isaiah Canaan: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/sixers/20150222_Brown_anoints_Canaan_starting_point_guard.html and http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/150222-canaan-story and http://www.libertyballers.com/2015/2/22/8085079/isaiah-canaan-scouting-report-sixers-houston
– Chris Bosh, Jared Sullinger and Shabazz Muhammad are all out for the season
– Independent Karl unlike any coach Kings have ever had (from Scott Howard-Cooper, nba.com):
” Karl has credibility — he’s sixth on the career win list — and knows how to work a room. He does not duck tough issues. He was one of the endearing figures of the NBA long before it became a sympathy thing due to his neck and throat cancer. It’s impossible to miss the truth that the millionaire who didn’t come back for the money is really a Pittsburgh kid who wants to work at age 63. George Karl is genuine and popular among media and the fans, and he will swing the hammer.”
– Predicting Enes Kanter’s Impact With the Thunder (from David Ramil, thunderousintentions.com):
” Kanter is available to the Thunder when they play on Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets. I’d expect him to start alongside Ibaka at center, with Serge returning to his more natural power forward position.
It’s an interesting test for the young big man, considering he’ll face the Hornets’ Al Jefferson, a mentor for Kanter in Utah. As described here, Kanter’s offensive footwork and work around the rim – arguably his best skills – are near duplicates of Jefferson’s highly-touted low-post mastery. Given time and more touches, there’s no reason to think that Kanter wouldn’t be as regularly effective as Jefferson.
But there’s more to Kanter’s game, both the good and the bad, and we’ll look at how that might mesh with the Thunder once he eventually sees the floor.”
Read and view it here: http://thunderousintentions.com/2015/02/21/predicting-enes-kanters-impact-thunder/ (Note: this story runs 5 pages, clicking on “next” after each page is required.)
More here (from Shane Young, hoopshapbit.com): http://hoopshabit.com/2015/02/20/oklahoma-city-thunder-breaking-enes-kanter-addition/
– The Thunder are a more balanced team after the trade deadline (from Jesus Gomez, sbnation.com):
” The three-team trade that sent Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, Kyle Singler and Steve Novak to Oklahoma City might not be flashy but it has made the Thunder better.”
– Thunder Bolster Their Bench At The Deadline (from Joshua Riddell, BBall Breakdown):
– Raps, Hawks’ success signals power shift in East (from Josh Lewenberg, tsn.ca):
” Their team is a model of teams of the future,” Dwane Casey said moments before he’s team’s impressive 105-80 rout of the hosting Hawks. “With the new collective bargaining agreement, there are very few teams that are going to have a team full of superstars. They have a team full of very good players, a lot like us, that have bought in.”
Atlanta has taken the league by storm with their balanced attacked on both ends of the court, ranking in the top six in offence and defence. Offensively, they share the ball and spread the floor with versatile shooters. On defence, they pack the paint, switch and get in the passing lanes. All five Hawks starters average between 12.0 and 17.0 points per game.
Toronto’s defence has been far less reliable, but their abundance of scorers has kept them among the NBA’s top offensive teams all season. On Friday, they beat the Hawks at their own game.
With all their weapons, both teams are a nightmare to game plan for. Focusing in on one or even two players won’t guarantee your victory. While they differ in several facets of the game – no team has executed with the precision of the Hawks over the last two months – they share this quality, something that has assured their success in the midst of the league’s transition to parity.
“I think the league is coming to that, which is a good thing,” Casey said. “I think the days of the super-superstars, conglomerate teams, with the new CBA is moving towards team-first, which is great, I think. We’re that way and I think a lot of teams are going to be that way. I think Atlanta, Golden State, ourselves are good examples of not having a superstar, but what you can do if you play together and play committed and you buy in to what you’re doing. You can get some things done.”
Read about The meaning of the Hawks’ loss here (from Kevin Arnovitz, ESPN): http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/72373/another-hiccup-for-the-east-leading-hawks
– The Atlanta Hawks’ Secret Sauce: The surprising Eastern Conference leaders have improved their on-court strategy with the aid of some analytical supremacy (from Jacob Eisenberg, the Cauldron):
” How has Atlanta surged into an offensive powerhouse?
I’ve been investigating that question all season, and have gained a pretty strong grasp on what’s made them click. There are two analytical secrets to Atlanta’s success that the Hawks have exploited, and the results have transformed them from middling East pesterer into a powerhouse”
–Assessing the Impact of Thabo Sefolosha’s Injury on the Hawks (from Aaron Fischman, Vantage Sports):
– Cavs 127, Wizards 89; Jason Lloyd’s 18 final thoughts on a team rising in the East (from Jason Lloyd, ohio.com):
– Dirk on the Left Block (from Bobby Karalla, mavs.com):
Read and view it here: http://www.mavs.com/best-on-the-block/
– Rising Stars: Exum, Muhammad, Wiggins working at different stages (from Zach harper, cbssports.com):
” … (T)hese three players… show three very different but connected levels of being a young player in today’s NBA.”
– Goran Dragic: The HEAT Get A Player Who Can Change The Way They Play (from Couper Moorhead, heat.com):
Read and view it here: http://www.nba.com/heat/dragic-ball
– Suns show us how (not) to trade your Dragon (from Dave King, brightsideofthesun.com):
– Q and A with Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough: On selfishness, analytics, and restricted free agency (from Bryan Gibberman, brightsideofthesun.com):
– What the Michael Carter-Williams trade says about the present and future of the Milwaukee Bucks (from Frank Madde, brewhoop.com):
– Sam Hinkie, Brett Brown, And Their Search For Superstars (from Derek Bodner, libertyballers.com):
” Why would you go out and trade a player that you’ve spent the last 18-plus months developing, and trade him for an unknown quantity?
Why are you, once again, trading an established player for a pick years down the line that may or may not work out?
Why are you, once again, taking a step back and seemingly restarting the rebuilding process?
In the eyes of Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown, the answer seems clear: to put themselves in a position to get great players. Reading between the lines it seems clear that they may not have seen that in Michael Carter-Williams.
“Saying ‘Here’s the future, here’s the cornerstone of the program,’ I don’t know if we ever did do that,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said about Michael Carter-Williiams’ status as a cornerstone of the franchise. “I hear why people might think it was insinuated, and I think we all hoped that that’s what would happen.”
“We are really focused on how do we find greatness,” Sam Hinkie said when discussing the trade deadline activity. “The sort of greatness from a team level, and then greatness at an individual player level, and we’re looking for that every day.”
– Wizards, after 38-point loss to Cavs: (from J. Michael, csnwashington.com):
” We get too comfortable. You take too many things for granted. You just got to man up and play defense. Each one of us has to step in and play one-on-one defense,” said Gortat, who had just eight points and six rebounds in 27 minutes. “Simple as that. Just stop your guy in front of you. You can’t rely constantly on help and help and help and stuff like that. You just got to play defense. Do whatever it takes to win your matchup.”
When told of Gortat’s view about why the defensive effort continues to lag — is it a one-on-one defensive problem or is it team defense? — Paul Pierce was strong in his rebuttal.
“That’s what basketball is. I don’t know what March is talking about,” Pierce said. “Because when you play a team game you play help defense. The best teams trust each other on defense. That’s what we’ve got to get. There’s no trust on the defensive end. If it was an individual sport, oh well, but this is a team sport where we rely on help defense. We don’t have no extremely great individual defenders out there so we rely on our effort, our team defense and our togetherness and it just wasn’t there. I don’t know what he was talking about.””
– Meet Khris Middleton (from Michael Pina, Bleacher Report):
” The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the NBA’s most pleasant surprises, and Khris Middleton, their startlingly efficient, unsurprisingly versatile two-way nightmare, is one of the biggest reasons why.
For all the deserved accolades players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Brandon Knight (before he was traded), Jared Dudley andJabari Parker (before he tore his ACL) have received, Middleton’s play has been just as vital for the Bucks.
Milwaukee is never better on both ends than when Middleton is on the floor, according to NBA.com. The team’s net rating goes from plus-10.0 points per 100 possessions when Middleton is on the court to minus-4.9 points per 100 possessions when he sits on the bench—the equivalent of going from the second-best team in the league to 25th.”
– Fate and Frailty May Test Miami Heat’s Front-Office Wizardry (from harvey Araton, NYTimes):
– Understanding Carmelo Anthony’s Patellar Tendon Debridement (from Jeff Stotts, instreetclothes.com):
Play of the Night: Gobert’s Outlet off Booker’s Block: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/20/8080731/rudy-gobert-snaps-a-perfect-outlet-pass-on-one-touch-in-midair
Additional Player Updates:
– Patrick Patterson: http://probballreport.com/patrick-patterson-was-the-big-man-the-raptors-needed/
– Spencer Dinwiddie: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/02/spencer_dinwiddies_first_nba_s.html
– Reggie Jackson: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/25076207/stan-van-gundy-pistons-ready-to-commit-long-term-to-reggie-jackson and http://www.detroitbadboys.com/2015/2/21/8081085/stan-van-gundy-reggie-jackson-analytics and http://www.sbnation.com/2015/2/20/8077335/reggie-jackson-pistons-trade-synergy-sports
– Every NBA trade completed this season (from Mike Prada, SBNation):
” The trade deadline ended with a bang. Here is every deal that happened on Feb. 19 and before.”
(BI Note: There was a lot of action yesterday, but only 2 players -Afflalo and Dragic – went to their rumored destination – three if you count KG, but that’s a stretch since the rumor started just before he was traded. So much for the validity of trade rumors.)
– Recapping every deal from an eventful NBA trade deadline (from Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated):
” Now that the dust has settled on the NBA’s trade deadline blitz, it’s time to take stock of the day’s events.”
– You’ve Been Traded (from Patrick Patterson, theplayerstribune.com):
” A trade feels like a breakup. But like a tough breakup, my bitterness towards the Rockets faded over time. I understand now that it was strictly a business decision. And I respect the guys in the front office for doing their jobs. But how can you not take it personally?”
– Toronto Raptors ‘believe in our guys,’ stand pat at trade deadline (from Eric Koreen, nationalpost.com):
– EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR THE BULLS STRETCH RUN (from Sam Smith, Bulls.com):
” The Bulls have, at least according to win/loss, one of the easiest schedules to close the season, ranking in the top five least taxing against top opponents. And even with a first 54 games of some confusion and indecision and rumors of even a coaching change and a decline in play, the Bulls are 10th in overall point differential, third in the East. That’s a reliable indicator of team strength.
The Bulls, also according to NBA statistics, are eighth in field goal defense, sixth in three-point defense and third in rebounding, all numbers which suggest title contending and not the much concerning defensive slippage. The Bulls, however, don’t do as well in advanced statistics at 17th in pace—we know they often play too slowly—13th in points per 100 possessions on defense, and 14th in true shooting percentage to account for all shooting.
It suggests an overall mixture of a team with numerous injuries in its first 54 games that with 28 to go can have a strong finish. But there still are questions the Bulls face in these last two months. Here’s a look at the major ones:’
– The five reasons the Hawks keep winning and why they will continue to succeed (from Mark Phelps, peachtreehoops.com):
– Warriors: From one-dimensional and one-and-done to NBA title favorites (from Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated):
– The Nets are stuck in a bad place (from Devin Kharpertian, thebrooklyngame.com):
Read it here: http://thebrooklyngame.com/nets-stuck-bad-place/
– WHAT NBA GENERAL MANAGERS ACTUALLY DO (from Steve McPherson, vicesports.com):
– Breaking Down the Wolves, Part II: The Veterans (from John Meyer, canishoopus.com):
” In Part I of an ongoing five-part series, aimed at breaking down the current state of the Wolves, I looked at the franchise cornerstones: Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins and potentially the Wolves 2015 lottery pick.
Part II brings an inside look at the veterans in Minnesota: Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and the newly acquired, but certainly a familiar face, Kevin Garnett (Chase Budinger and Gary Neal are not included because they exist in another tier called “Time is Running Out”). What should fans look for over the last 29 games out of these three, and how do they fit into the long-term plans of the organization?”
– 140 points a game – but are the Reno Bighorns a basketball experiment too far? (from les Carpenter, theguardian.com):
” (The Bighorns) model their game on the frenetic, hell for leather style of college basketball’s Grinnell. But … can (it) translate to the pros?”
– The Inside Man: NBA Analytics (from Ben Alamar, ESPN):
” I spent seven years working in the NBA; here’s how teams are shortchanging analytics”
Additional Player Updates:
– Michael Carter-Williams: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/2/19/8072571/michael-carter-williams-trade-bucks-jason-kidd and http://www.vantagesports.com/#story/VOZRWycAACYAOXIp/michael-carter-williams-versus-brandon-knight