NBA to track five ‘hustle stats’ at 2015 Summer League in Las Vegas

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The amount of information in the form of statistics that is available to the casual NBA fan is staggering, if not downright impressive.

An afternoon can easily be wasted poring over the data available at stats.nba.com, and yet, the league is piloting an attempt to add to its already impressive portfolio of numbers.

From the official release:

This year at Samsung NBA Summer League 2015, the league will be tracking five “hustle stats.”  These statistics will be tracked in an attempt to quantify how a player’s effort and intensity, factors we know are important to team success but traditionally have not been formally tracked, affect the outcome of a game.  They will be distributed in-game to team personnel, media and broadcasters. Additionally, we’ll also pilot the idea of handing out advanced box scores in-game during NBA Summer League as well.

The five categories of new information that will be immediately available are as follows:

2-Point FG Contested (C2FGA) – Defensive players will be assigned a 2-point FG Contested if they make their presence felt by raising a hand to contest a shot inside the three-point line prior to the release of the ball without fouling or blocking the shot attempt.  A 2-Point FG Contested will still be awarded even if the offensive player makes the shot, another player also contests the shot (leading to both players being assigned a 2-Point FG Contested), or the ball is never actually released from the shooter’s hands due to the contest (provided the offensive player demonstrated a clear intent to shoot as opposed to simply pump faking).

3-Point FG Contested (C3FGA) – The same rules of a 2-Point Field Goal Contested apply to a 3-Point Field Goal Contested, except the Field Goal Attempt must be outside the three-point line.

Deflection (DEFL) – A defensive player shall be assigned a deflection upon redirecting the intended flight of the basketball through intentional physical contact on any non-field goal attempt.  A deflection is separate from a steal, and does not require either control of the basketball or a change in possession.  A kick ball also results in the defending player being awarded a deflection.

Loose-Ball Recovered (LBR) – A player shall be assigned a Loose-Ball Recovered upon gaining sole possession of a live “50/50” ball not controlled by either team.  A loose-ball recovery can occur after a deflection, a block, a field goal attempt, or any other situation in which players must exert effort to gain possession of a live ball not directly in their individually controlled area (i.e. the ball does not come directly towards them or the recovery is contested).  A loose ball recovery that leads to a jump ball results in half a Loose-Ball Recovered for both players involved in the jump.

Charge (CHRG DR) – The defensive player shall be assigned a Charge Drawn if the offensive player dribbling the basketball charges into an opponent that has established a legal guarding position.  This occurrence will be directly called by an official on the floor.

The only one here I don’t like is the “charge drawn” tally, because I would rather see players attempt to play actual defense than try to position themselves to take charges.

(And no, running to a spot where you think the player with the ball will end up, setting up shop and then getting steamrolled by said player does not qualify as playing defense.)

Overall, more information is better in terms of player evaluation. As long as these numbers aren’t used in a vacuum irresponsibly to make inscrutable arguments, they’ll be a welcome addition to the already encyclopedic volume of available intelligence.

Paul George says he “Didn’t know I was gonna be traded”

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As I have pointed out before here on NBC Sports, I really do love watching NBA marketing unfold in front of me. Some of it — like Kobe Bryant’s weird post career legacy massaging — is downright impressive.

Other instances are not quite as sly.

Enter newest Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and his latest sponsored Instagram post.

In a recent video posted to his page, George put up a training montage set to an Eminem song that was essentially an advertisement for the gym and trainer he had been working with over the summer. The gym’s own page also features several of these videos. So far, pretty common stuff.

That is, until you read the Instagram caption and see what George had to say about his training. Let’s see if you can spot the issue.

Screenshot via Instagram:

Of course, the issue here is that George essentially took away the leverage the Indiana Pacers would have had if his trade request hadn’t somehow been made public. Repeatedly.

George knew he was going to get traded because Indiana had no choice but to trade him. Saying otherwise is a hilarious and transparent attempt to reshape recent history.

This is perhaps my favorite result of the platitudes drilled into the heads of players by team PR guys and agent media training. That is, when you talk nonsense for so long and during each and every interview — we just dug deep, it’s a game of inches, you have to want it more — sometimes you just don’t know when to stop trying to spin the story in your direction. Especially because the mantra of media training is to be boring and try say nothing, which is hard if you have something to prove or an opinion to change.

Between this and Kevin Durant openly admitting to having a burner Twitter account (which no doubt sparked a flurry of emails and calls between agents and their clients) this is shaping up to be one of the best NBA seasons in recent memories and that’s just from a new media standpoint.

Gordon Hayward says Isaiah Thomas “ultimately helped win me over”

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Gordon Hayward is now a member of the Boston Celtics, and we are all excited to see how the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference last season checks out with a newly revamped roster.

Of course, Boston has been the subject of much media attention after signing Hayward and trading Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. I think there should be some skepticism about how quickly Boston will be able to put things together, but this is a team of former and current All-Stars so they will likely be at least a Top 4 team out East.

Meanwhile, Hayward has written a new blog post on his personal website about the summer, taking on such subjects as the move to Massachusetts, video games, and what to expect this season.

One of the more interesting things that Hayward wrote about was just how much of an influence Thomas had in his decision to come to Boston. Hayward addresses Thomas’ influence in a section dedicated to him finding out about the trade to Cleveland.

Via GordonHayward20.life:

He didn’t just help recruit me to Boston—he was a big piece of that recruitment. He had talked a lot about city and how it was different to be a Celtic. He talked about the intensity of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, playing at the Garden in the playoffs, and how much fun it was, and how much fun he had playing in Boston.

All of that ultimately helped win me over. And by the time of the trade, I had already started to build a little bit of a relationship with him.

The rest of Hayward’s post was about the subjects mentioned above, but it ended by saying that he understands the history of the organization and that he feels like he has not reached his full potential just yet.

Obviously, in signing him this season that’s exactly what the Celtics and Danny Ainge are hoping.

NBA implementing ‘Zaza Pachulia,’ ‘James Harden’ rules

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NEW YORK (AP) — NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season’s playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden‘s attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard’s in Game 1 of Golden State’s victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

“It’s 100 percent for the safety of the players,” NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. But the play got renewed attention during the playoffs because of Leonard’s injury, and also one in which Washington forward Markieff Morris landed on Al Horford‘s foot in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal, knocking him out of a game the Celtics rallied to win.

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia’s foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots – often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up – officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

“We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let’s catch up to it,”‘ NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.

Report: Cavaliers signing Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins spent fewer than four months with the Cavaliers, including the 2015 playoffs. But nearly a year later after Cleveland let Perkins walk in free agency, LeBron James was still bemoaning Perkins’ absence.

Are the Cavs righting a wrong?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Kendrick Perkins joined the Cavaliers at LeBron James’ minicamp in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will come to training camp next week, sources told cleveland.com.

The Cavs now have 18 players with standard contracts, and 15 – the regular-season limit – have guaranteed salaries. I doubt Cleveland wants to waive the two without guaranteed salaries, Kay Felder and Edy Tavares, either.

In other words, Perkins is a longshot to stick into the regular season.

Perkins was washed up when with the Cavaliers two years ago. The 32-year-old who sat out last season hasn’t produced on the court in several years. He’s tough and well-liked in the locker room, which might give him a chance of sneaking onto the regular-season roster.

But the Cavs should focus on developing toughness and chemistry among their rotation players. Perkins is just a crutch, most likely one who’ll be yanked away by cut-down day a few weeks from now.