Hoops Rumors attended the 2017 MIT Sloan Conference earlier this month and we delivered several features from the event. We covered commissioner Adam Silver’s sit down with FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. Silver addressed the league’s strategy when it comes to players’ social media accounts and the commissioner noted that basketball attracts “a certain type of owner,” adding that NBA owners are typically more open to innovation than owners of other North American sports franchises.
NBA owners are embracing the analytics movement. Coaches and players are doing the same, as I discussed in my Evolution of Analytics piece.
We also passed along a feature on Mark Cuban and how the Mavericks have taken a unique approach to building around Dirk Nowitzki. In addition, we spoke with several current and former NBA executives and conducted a poll with topics ranging from the MVP race to front office moves.
Here are more notes from this year’s conference:
- The midrange game appears to be a lost art, but a look at the numbers tell a different story, as Bucks Director of Basketball Research Seth Partnow told attendees during the conference’s Truth And Myths Of The Three Point Revolution In Basketball session. Teams are no longer designing plays that result in a midrange shot, which has caused a decrease in assisted midrange attempts throughout the league. However, unassisted midrange attempts, which are known as “Star Shots” in NBA circles, have stayed consistent over the last decade. When plays break down, it forces the teams’ top players to create their own offense and in many possessions, the result is a midrange shot off the dribble.
- The best shot in the NBA is the corner three-pointer, but Partnow noted that only 7.5% of all shots during the 2015/16 campaign were from that area.
- Partnow said his least favorite stat is defensive three-point percentage. He believes the stat isn’t an indicator of whether or not good defense has been played since once a player shoots the ball, the result is not impacted by the defense. “It’s not luck, but the data points look like luck.”
- Former NBA executive Bobby Marks told Hoops Rumors that ownership change isn’t worrisome for most members of the front office. “[As an Assistant GM], you’re not in the line of fire.” Marks, who now writes for The Vertical, saw the Nets’ franchise change ownership four times in his 20 years with the club. He began his career as an intern with the franchise before working his way up to assistant GM.
- The Warriors have struggled without Kevin Durant and if he can’t get back to 100%, the team will have trouble claiming the Western Conference, Marks tells Hoops Rumors. He added that the San Antonio could take advantage of Golden State’s woes, but cautions that the Spurs’ backcourt is their “Achilles heel.” Marks also added that San Antonio’s age showed in its playoff series with the Thunder last season.
- One anonymous NBA executive told Hoops Rumors that he would rather have Timofey Mozgov‘s contract on his books than Joakim Noah‘s when asked to pick between the two. The executive believes both players will be back-ups on the latter halves of their respective contracts, adding that Mozgov may be better suited for that role. Mozgov signed a four-year, $64MM contract with the Lakers over the summer, while Noah signed a four-year, $72MM deal with the Knicks. Both players are out for the remainder of the season.
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a group of students and media members, including Hoops Rumors, that the best way to break into the sports industry is not a sports management degree. The Shark Tank Star recommended computer and data sciences, as those will be important areas in the future of the NBA.
- During his panel with Nate Silver, Cuban dismissed the notion that referees have the hardest job in sports. “Have you ever seen a ref quit because it’s too hard,” Cuban exclaimed. “Has anyone said ‘I’m going to go back and be an accountant?'” The league has fined Cuban nearly $2MM, much of which has been a result of criticizing referees, since he took ownership of the Mavericks.