Dan Feldman

FILe - In this June 7, 2015 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) watches as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry dribbles during the second half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif. For months, the Cavaliers' megastar has lived slightly under the radar, if that's even possible for one of the world's most famous and recognizable athletes. While Stephen Curry rained 3-pointers as the new face of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors hunted down history and Kobe Bryant took his final bows, James remained in the background awaiting his turn. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
AP Photo/Ben Margot

2016 PBT Awards: MVP

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Kurt Helin

1. Stephen Curry

2. Russell Westbrook

3. LeBron James

4. Kevin Durant

5. Kawhi Leonard

Stephen Curry didn’t leave any doubt this year. The MVP has been clear since Christmas, but the next four slots were more difficult and those players could be put in virtually any order. I put Westbrook second because he not only put up numbers but was the creative and driving force behind the second best offense in the NBA. Chris Paul was hard to leave off.

Sean Highkin

1. Stephen Curry

2. LeBron James

3. Russell Westbrook

4. Kawhi Leonard

5. Chris Paul

There are six legitimate candidates for MVP runner-up (there’s no debate or controversy about the winner, and any voter who puts anyone besides Steph at #1 should lose their voting privileges): these four, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. There’s no wrong answer out of that group. I wanted to give CP3 some props for how he kept the Clippers competitive with Blake Griffin out half the season.

Dan Feldman

1. Stephen Curry

2. LeBron James

3. Russell Westbrook

4. Kevin Durant

5. Kawhi Leonard

Curry had a season for the ages, the reigning Most Valuable Player making himself a Most Improved Player candidate. After that, the race is too close to call 2-5 with Chris Paul finishing a strong sixth.

NBA owners approve three-year trial of jersey advertising

AP Money Found
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NBA owners were set to approve jersey advertising.

Now, they have.

NBA release:

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program.  The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo.  Patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo.

The NBA’s 30 teams will be responsible for selling their own jersey sponsorships.

“Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  “We’re always thinking about innovative ways the NBA can remain competitive in a global marketplace, and we are excited to see the results of this three-year trial.”

The sponsor patch will not appear on the retail versions of the player jerseys but teams will have the option to sell the jerseys with sponsor patches in their own retail outlets.

There will be an initial backlash, but if advertising on on jerseys during All-Star weekend is any indication, most fans won’t even notice the ads. (Though that should raise questions about their value to sponsors.)

The NBA is a business, and if it thinks this will increase profits, go for it. There’s nothing immoral or unethical about this plan.

Questions remain about whether this will add revenue, but those are the league’s problems. Though I dislike the idea of further advertising creep, this isn’t something I find worth getting worked up over.

Woman tells police she fabricated story of Zach Randolph choking her

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph reacts to a foul call against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer
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A woman filed a police report last month, accusing Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph of strangling her.

TMZ

one week later, officials say the woman changed her story … and during a police interview on March 31st, and said there WAS an argument but Randolph NEVER touched her.

According to official documents … cops say the woman told officers, “she was upset and decided to file a fabricated police report and ‘just wanted to get his money.'”

The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has tossed the case.

It’s a shame Randolph faced these false accusations. Hopefully, anyone who saw the news of the initial report also sees this development.

 

NBA to track, publish hustle stats during playoffs

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AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Eye test or analytics?

Both, of course.

But more specifically, I believe in turning as much as possible into numbers. Statistics can track much more than people realize, and numbers allow us to assess more information than our brains can handle.

Some would argue you can’t count hustle. I’d say try, and the NBA is.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

For the first time, the NBA will track a new batch of “hustle stats” in the playoffs and post them online within hours of the end of every game, league officials told ESPN.com.

The league will track how often defenders contest 2- and 3-point shots, deflections by defensive players, charges taken, which players recover loose balls, and so-called “screen assists,” which the league defines as picks that lead directly to a made field goal attempt by a teammate. The “screen assist” category will not include picks that result in a teammate drawing a shooting foul or that free up someone for a shot one or two passes down the chain, officials said.

This is awesome.

Will these numbers perfectly record complex NBA action? Of course not. There will be gray areas, and context will make same numbers misleading.

But smart people will understand that and use the stats for what they are — another piece of information.

Someone expected has great hustle stats (or poor ones)? That’ll confirm your perception.

Someone unexpected has great hustle stats (or poor ones)? Pay a little more attention to him during games to see why.

This should only make fans smarter.

2016 PBT Awards: Coach of the Year

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, left, jokes with Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr before an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Kurt Helin

1. Gregg Popovich

2. Terry Stotts

3. Steve Clifford

Yes, Luke Walton/Steve Kerr led the Warriors to a record, but I can only vote for one per NBA rules and Kerr missed too much time for me to give him the award (as with Manu Ginobili for Sixth Man). Popovich had to integrate LaMarcus Aldridge and re-invent the Spurs style for the seeming 743rd time, and they won a franchise record number of games. He’s the best coach in the game and he had one of his best years.

Sean Highkin

1. Steve Kerr

2. Gregg Popovich

3. Terry Stotts

Ideally, I could give this award to Kerr and Luke Walton as a duo, but league rules won’t allow it. Even though Walton coached the team for their unprecedented start to the year, it was Kerr that established the culture that allowed them to do so well with him out the first chunk of the season, and he was still involved behind the scenes while Walton was the interim coach.

Dan Feldman

1. Terry Stotts

2. Gregg Popovich

3. Steve Clifford

There was a point I couldn’t imagine leaving Rick Carlisle off this list. Getting the Mavericks – who most, myself included, wrote off when DeAndre Jordan defected – into the playoffs was pure wizardry. But this was a strong coaching season at the top.

Stotts got a whole new group playing well very quickly. As we’ve seen with LeBron James in Miami and then Cleveland, there are usually more setbacks when integrating a star. Popovich made it look seamless with LaMarcus Aldridge. Clifford kept a team full of players on expiring contracts focused, maintaining a high defensive level while reinventing the offense to become more dynamic.

And I didn’t even get to Brad Stevens, who pushed the right buttons on a deep and middle-heavy Celtics.

Not strongly considered: Steve Kerr, who missed half the season. You can’t do more in a half a season than Stotts, Popovich and Clifford did the entire year.