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.

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball “nowhere near playing,” could miss entire season

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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“I’m trying to stay positive, keep my hopes up. I would love to play. I would never count that out.”

Lonzo Ball tried to put an optimistic face on his recovery from a second knee surgery, but he was realistic and put no timetable on a return.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was more realistic, speaking Saturday before the Bulls took on the Magic. Via Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you he’s nowhere near playing,” Donovan said. “He’s just not. Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Could Ball be out for the entire season? Donovan again, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

“My guess would be – there’s not been a specifically set date – my guess would be I think we get through the All-Star Break, I think there would probably be everybody sitting down to talk about length and time of the season, how realistic is it for him to get back, if he could get back what would the minutes look like, is it not worth having him back just because it’s too much?’’ Donovan said. “I think everything, at least in my conversations with medical about him, have always been geared towards helping him get back to playing. Certainly once you get out of the All-Star Break, with the amount of time that’s left, basically you’re at the end of February. You have all of March and not even two weeks in April, so you start to get to that point where I think there will be some conversations of, ‘OK, if he’s still not close to playing, what’s the plan moving forward?’”

Ball has undergone multiple knee surgeries. The first was in January 2022 and the expectation at the time was he would return for the playoffs, but his knee didn’t respond well during rehab. That led to a second knee surgery, and recovery from that is going slowly as well. It leaves the Bulls in a tough spot, they miss his defense and his being a floor general on offense as they have struggled to a 23-26 record this season that sees them sitting as the No. 11 seed in the East.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

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We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder (if he does sit out Monday against the Nets, as the team announced).

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken at home against the Thunder.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend

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It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.