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.

Rumor: Suns prefer drafting Ja Morant over drafting Zion Williamson

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Duke power forward Zion Williamson is overwhelmingly favored to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Murray State point guard Ja Morant is the leading candidate to be the No. 2 pick.

But what if Phoenix lands the top pick?

Suns general manager James Jones has his own ideas about the draft. The thoroughness of Phoenix’s scouting leaves a lot to be desired. The Suns badly need a point guard.

With all those factors, Phoenix might be the biggest wildcard with the No. 1 pick.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic:

Sources around the NBA are buzzing that Morant is actually the player the Suns prefer to end up with. Particularly, Jones is thought to be a fan of the dynamic lead guard. It’s not a surprise, given their need at the point guard position. But color me skeptical that the team would actually take him at No. 1.

I see a few possibilities:

  • Phoenix rates Morant ahead of Williamson but would be afraid to pass on Williamson. Not only is Williamson the consensus top pick, he is the biggest star coming out of college basketball in years.
  • The Suns would rather have Morant plus whatever they could get for trading down than Williamson. That might even be reasonable, though we don’t know how potential trade packages would look.
  • People around the league are taking (easy) shots at Phoenix, even if these claims are untrue.

The Suns should draft whichever player they believe will have the brightest future. Period.

Passing on Williamson just because they have Deandre Ayton would be only compounding mistakes. There is not a single player in Phoenix good enough to justify passing on Williamson. Point guards will be available via free agency and trade.

If the Suns truly believe Morant will have a better career than Williamson, they should draft Morant. Making a pick for marketability or fear of backlash is misguided.

Of course, there’s only a 14% chance of Phoenix getting the No. 1 pick and facing this decision. But if it lands that way, it’d cause a ton of intrigue into the selection.

Jared Dudley, Jimmy Butler fined for fight

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When Jared Dudley pushed Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler pushed Dudley right back. After the 76ers’ Game 4 win over the Nets, Butler accompanied his star teammate to the postgame press conference.

“So he don’t do nothing stupid when he’s up here,” Butler said. “We all know he’s a trolling son of a gun. So, I’m just here to protect my big fella.

“If somebody runs up on him, I’m gonna push them again.”

A grateful Embiid said he’d pay Butler’s fine.

Then, later in the press conference, Embiid said: “It feels great to be up 3 to 1. We definitely don’t want to be in a situation like the Warriors.”

Butler got up and left, shouting, “I tried to save you,” on his way out.

Does Embiid’s fine-paying offer still stand? It’s definitely relevant.

NBA release:

Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley and Philadelphia 76ers forward-guard Jimmy Butler have each been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Dudley has been fined $25,000 for escalating an on-court incident which spilled into the spectator stands by shoving Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid. Butler has been fined $15,000 for escalating it further by then shoving Dudley.

The incident, for which Dudley and Butler each received technical fouls and were ejected, occurred with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter of Philadelphia’s 112-108 victory over Brooklyn on Saturday, April 20

Dudley is doing all he can. The best part of the skirmish: Nets coach Kenny Atkinson trying to restrain and calm Dudley while yelling, “We need you.” Brooklyn was +12 with Dudley and -16 without him in Game 4.

But Dudley can do only so much against more-talented Philadelphia.

With Embiid, Butler and a 3-1 lead, the 76ers are clearly having more fun.

Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro remaining in 2019 NBA draft

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Kentucky forward P.J. Washington declared for the NBA draft.

A couple other Wildcats are following his lead.

Kentucky releases:

Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Keldon Johnson will remain in the 2019 NBA Draft pool and will not return to Kentucky, he announced

Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Tyler Herro has decided to remain in the 2019 NBA Draft, ending his career at UK.

Washington, Johnson and Herro all look like probable first-round picks. Washington and/or Johnson could sneak into the lottery, but there’s a good chance all three go later in the opening round.

Johnson is a 6-foot-6 shooting guard with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He brings impressive effort and physicality. If his 3-pointer continues to fall, he’ll have a future in the league as a nice role player. But he hasn’t yet proven himself as a strong NBA-level spot-up shooter. He’s not there off the dribble, as a shooter or playmaker.

Herro can flat out shoot. He races around screens, finds ways to get open and sinks shots on the move and from odd angles. The 6-foot-5 guard might be a defensive liability, but at least he competes on that end. He’s also limited offensively, but the league needs shooters.

Michael Avenatti charged with stealing money Hassan Whiteside intended to pay ex-girlfriend

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Heat center Hassan Whiteside became the first player in NBA history to go from a minimum salary one season to a max salary the next.

Some of that money allegedly got embezzled by Michael Avenatti.

Avenatti – the infamous lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, who claimed she was paid to keep quiet about having an affair with Donald Trump – has been charged with attempted extortion of Nike and stealing from other clients. One of those other clients: Whiteside’s former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.

Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times:

An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3-million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment.

Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner.

Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.