kenny mauer
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D-League experimenting with larger referee crews

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – while calling for Ken Mauer to be suspended or demoted for missing a Bojan Bogdanovic travel/double-dribble – made a wise point about officiating:

Referees miss calls because there’s too much happening simultaneously.

The NBA wants to try giving each ref a little less to watch, starting with a D-League experiment.

NBA release:

The NBA Development League will experiment with four- and five-person officiating crews for nine games this season, it was announced today.  The nine-game trial, which is being conducted by NBA and NBA D-League Referee Operations, will begin on Dec. 26 when the Westchester Knicks face the Long Island Nets at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.  The initiative will allow the NBA to gather live-game data on the larger officiating crews, continuing its use of the NBA D-league for research and development.

 

“We are committed to finding ways to better serve our game and provide the highest levels of training for our officials,” said Bob Delaney, NBA Vice President, Referee Operations & Director of Officials.  “We are confident in how our three-person system works and are constantly thinking of ways to improve our game.  The four- and five-referee initiative is a prime example of that focus and will help the NBA with research and development.  The NBA D-League provides the perfect opportunity to conduct this test.”

The four-person experiments will be run in two configurations.  The first will feature two officials in the lead position and two split between the slot and the trail.  The second is highlighted by two officials in the slot position with the additional two as a trail and a lead, respectively.  In the five-person tests, the existing three-person system will rotate typically with the two additional officials taking lead stationary positions on each end of the court.  The testing comes on the heels of similar experimental four-person crews tested during the 2016 Utah Jazz Summer League.

The full slate of games in the trial will take place at Barclays Center and will feature the Long Island Nets and nine different NBA D-League Eastern Conference opponents between Dec. 26 and March 19.  The first five scheduled experimental games will be officiated by four referees, while the remaining four contests will feature five-person crews.

The initiative is the latest test conducted for the NBA by the NBA D-League, which has experimented with rules changes, technological advancements and equipment research.  Among the experimental rules being utilized in the NBA D-League this season are the Coach’s Challenge, the Reset Timeout and a three-minute overtime period.

This is a step in the right direction. The less referees have to watch and run, the easier time they’ll have getting calls right.

But while adding human eyes helps, the league should think bigger. The NBA should focus on leveraging technology to improve officiating.

For example, the league can track the location of players and the ball on the court. Automate three-second violations. If referees didn’t have to watch for that, they could focus on more subjective calls like fouls and ideally get those correct more often.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.

PBT Extra: Can Boston hang on to the No. 1 seed in East?

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In an unexpected twist as the season winds down, the Cavaliers have stumbled — 8-11 since the All-Star break — while the Celtics have just kept on winning. Suddenly the Boston Celtics are on top of the East with the best record.

Can they stay on top through the rest of the season?

Does it matter to the Cavaliers?

I cover all this ground in the latest PBT Extra.

Draymond Green on Raiders move to Las Vegas: I won’t attend another game

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The Raiders are moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, and Draymond Green — whose Warriors also play in Oakland is not pleased.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game.

“And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I support the city of Oakland. It ain’t for me and I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. Come on man, that’s ridiculous.”

“If I were the fans, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next two years. But that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I’d pay my money to attend a game.”

 

Um, does Green realize the Warriors are also moving from Oakland (to a new arena in San Francisco)?

Green:

“It’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something,” Green said of the Raiders. “To Las Vegas?

OK, that’s Fair. I am just being pedantic. I don’t actually see moving across the bay as similar to the Raiders moving hundreds of miles away.

Green:

“That’s like moving the Dallas Cowboys or moving the Packers,” he said. “Moving the Raiders? You can move a lot of teams. Ain’t many fan bases like the Raiders fan base. That’s like moving the Boston Celtics from Boston or the Lakers from LA.

“You just don’t move certain franchises with the fan base they have.”

But seriously this time: Someone tell Green that the Raiders have already moved from Oakland to Los Angeles and back to Oakland — hundreds of miles each way and a ridiculous drive in traffic.

I get that Green — who grew up in Detroit Lions territory, roots for the Pittsburgh Steelers and is pictured above in a San Francisco 49ers jersey — just wants to connect with Oakland fans, but this argument is just intellectually dishonest.

Lonzo Ball: I’m better than Markelle Fultz

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Who should go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA draft?

A pair of Pac-12 freshmen point guards, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, lead the discussion.

Fultz looks like the leading contender, but Ball doesn’t buy into the conventional wisdom.

Ball, via ESPN:

“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.

“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

This will get spun into a discussion of Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball. But, without digging deeply, D'Angelo Russell, Shabazz Muhammad and Enes Kanter each claimed to be the best player in their respective drafts. Look further, and there are many more examples.

Reaching Lonzo Ball’s level usually comes with supreme confidence. This is normal — not a cause for concern about the influence of his boastful dad.

And for what’s it’s worth, I’d favor Ball over Fultz right now, though there’s still more information to gather in the draft process.