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.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

Associated Press
2 Comments

The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

Getty Images
2 Comments

NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.

Exclusive video preview: Dwyane Wade joins America’s Got Talent as guest judge

Leave a comment

Dwyane Wade is retired. He’s got some time on his hands.

But if he wants to spend quality time this summer with his wife, Gabrielle Union, he’s got to get on the set of America’s Got Talent, because she is a judge on the hit show. So, Wade did exactly that and steps in this week as a guest judge.

View this post on Instagram

Next week… it’s going down on @agt

A post shared by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

In the video at the top of this page, you can see an exclusive of Wade and the rest of the AGT crew watching and judging an insane danger act out of India, a sneak preview of the show airing on NBC this Tuesday night (8 p.m.).

Wade knows talent on the court, but we’re going to see what talents impress him on the stage.