Monday And-1 links: Highlights from the MIT SLOAN advanced statistics conference

1 Comment

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like the guys at MIT like beer. Because all guys like beer.

• Last weekend was the SLOAN Sports Analytics event at MIT, which is the annual gathering of sports numbers guys (and girls, 3,000 people total), where they get together and talk about advances in analytics. There is a lot of great stuff from there, but maybe my favorite post is from Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie, saying that the biggest challenge remains not convincing people that there is value in the number but how to get those numbers to decision makers and players (and fans) in a way they can be digested and used.

• Devine also wrote about the advanced optical player tracking software and how that is leading us to ask better questions, even if we don’t have the answers yet.

• Our friend Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated wrote about advanced stats at SLOAN and process.

• Also from SLAON, Zach Lowe of Grantland interviews Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

• By the way, 29 of the 30 NBA teams were represented at SLOAN. Who wasn’t there? The Los Angeles Lakers.

• In the second half Sunday LeBron James blanketed Carmelo Anthony. Here’s how.

• Ben McLemore of Kansas could be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, he is certainly going high (DraftExpress has him No. 2). If you want to get to know him, here is a fantastic profile. He has not had an easy life.

• Could Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson be the guy that replaces Billy Hunter at the NBA players union?

• Lakers fans, the Kamenetzky Brothers are still doing their Lakers podcasts, which are a must listen.

• Brandon Roy got a standing ovation at the Rose Garden and that touched him.

• Russell Westbrook is on the cover of fashion magazine Flaunt Magazine this month. If you know about Flaunt Magazine then you know more about fashion than I do. (Not that the bar is set very high there.)

• Rajon Rondo was born with giant hands (and other odd tidbits about him).

• The Bucks’ Monta Ellis and the Nuggets’ Ty Lawson are your Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. Ellis averaged 24 point, 9.0 assists and 5 steals a game. Lawson averaged 21 points and 7 assists a game, plus had the game winner over the Thunder.

• We always link to interviews with God Shammgod.

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

AP Photo/Eric Gay
1 Comment

Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN: