Commissioner-to-be Adam Silver is a big fan of advanced stats

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If you fear that the NBA is being taken over by people who just love advanced stats… well, you’re right.

Come February 1 Adam Silver will be the Commissioner of the NBA — and he loves advanced stats.

Silver was at the early days of the SLOAN Conference at MIT (almost an annual convention of the advanced stats movement in sports) and told the Washington Post he thinks it is a natural fit in the sport — and as something the fans want to see more of.

I come at it, historically at least, more from a fan standpoint. And one of my big pushes over the last several years is about making more of this statistical data available to our fans. Because there increasingly seems to be a real hunger by our fans to get deeper into the game and in many ways, we’ve lagged behind other sports, certainly baseball. There hadn’t been that same tradition, maybe, in basketball of getting deep into the statistics of our players and teams and using that data to analyze trends on the court.

And so, I was an early adopter of the [Houston Rockets General Manager] Daryl Morey [MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston]. I remember early days, at MIT, when the conference was still in a couple of classrooms as opposed to the convention center where it is now and they have thousands of people. But Daryl was one of the people, early on, that came and spoke to me and the league and said he did see a real opportunity here. Again, not just for the basketball folks to do a better job analyzing their teams, but ultimately to grow our business by creating data that was increasingly interesting to the fans.

It was Silver who helped push for the Spurts VU cameras that will allow detailed tracking of players in all 29 NBA arenas. Not all the teams loved the idea — some felt they might be losing their competitive advantage — but the reality is how teams will choose to use the vast amount of information will be different. Some teams will almost ignore all but a few things, other teams will incorporate it into every aspect of their operations (the Raptors, for example, have special programs in place to help use the information to improve their defensive understanding and positioning).

In the end, stats aren’t going to win titles — the public face of the NBA’s advanced stats movement, Daryl Morey, has spent the last few years working hard to land superstars (he got James Harden and Dwight Howard). What do you think the numbers were telling him? You still win with elite talent.

But the league is moving in the advanced stats direction and now Adam Silver is going to be out in front of that parade.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.