Hoops Rumors Originals

Hoops Rumors 2017 MIT Sloan Conference Coverage

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.

Fantasy Hoops: Ulis, Rondo, Ingram

The fantasy playoffs are underway and Hoops Rumors wants to help you become your league’s champion. Didn’t make the playoffs? Don’t worry, we’ll help you find players who may be undervalued in daily fantasy. Here are some notes and analysis from around the league.

  • The Suns shut down Eric Bledsoe for the remainder of the season and the move creates a massive opportunity for Tyler Ulis. Since Bledsoe was sidelined, Ulis leads the league in minutes per game with 41.3. Over that four-game stretch, he’s fifth in the league in assists per game and he’s added 1.8 steals per contest. He’s available in nearly 50% of ESPN leagues and he faces a great matchup against the Nets on Thursday.
  • The Bulls recently shut down Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo has seen his fantasy value increase as a result. Over the past three games, Rondo saw 31.6 minutes per contest and he averaged 11.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game.
  • The Lakers shut down their two highest paid players earlier in the month. Brandon Ingram is starting to benefit from the team’s decision. The rookie has seen 38.5 minutes per contest over his last four games, which ranks sixth in the league. Over that stretch, he’s averaging 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 51.9% from the field. He’s available in nearly 60% of ESPN leagues.
  • Ivica Zubac, who we discussed in last week’s edition of Fantasy Hoops, is available in over 80% of ESPN leagues. He’s seeing more playing time since the team shut down Timofey Mozgov. Over his last three games, the rookie is averaging 15.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game.
  • Keep an eye on the status on Jeremy Lin. He injured his ankle over the weekend and Spencer Dinwiddie started and played well in Lin’s place against the Pistons on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Nets will take on the Suns, a team that has given up the most points, the fourth-most assists and the second most steals to the point guard position over the last 10 games. If Lin suits up, both players could be risky plays, but if Lin is ruled out, Dinwiddie could have sneaky upside.
  • Check your waiver wire to see if Marvin Williams is available (as he is in 37% of ESPN leagues). The North Carolina product has seen his role on the Hornets grow recently. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 36.1 minutes per game, which is the 10th highest mark in the league over that stretch.

Fantasy questions? Take to the comment section below or tweet me at @CW_Crouse.

Statistics are current through Wednesday afternoon.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

With just three weeks in the NBA season, most teams across the league have full rosters. Teams still fighting for playoff spots or jockeying for higher seeds may not use all 15 players on their rosters, but they want to be well-stocked in case they need the depth heading into the postseason. Meanwhile, teams out of the running for a playoff spot will often use the last few spots on their rosters to take fliers on younger players and see if they can find a hidden gem before the regular season ends.

Currently, only two teams have open spots on their rosters, as our list of roster counts shows. Those teams are as follows:

  • New Orleans Pelicans (13 guaranteed contracts, one 10-day contract): Since sending three guards to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins deal last month, the Pelicans have been shuffling backcourt players on and off the roster in an effort to find good fits. As our 10-day tracker shows, New Orleans has signed six different guards to 10-day contracts since the deadline. One of those players – Jordan Crawford – earned a rest-of-season contract, while another – Quinn Cook – is still on the roster on a 10-day deal. For now, the Pelicans are leaving their final spot open, but that may not last.
  • Orlando Magic (14 guaranteed contracts): Orlando is a curious case. Outside of their Serge Ibaka trade with Toronto and a lone 10-day contract for Anthony Brown, the Magic haven’t made any roster moves since waiving Arinze Onuaku prior to the salary guarantee deadline in early January. The Magic were carrying 15 players during those 10 days that Brown was on the roster, but otherwise have left a spot open for the last two and a half months. The club has several young players on its roster that should get playing time down the stretch, so perhaps the thinking is that a 15th man on a 10-day contract would have no role and wouldn’t be worth the modest investment. But it’s still a little surprising that Orlando hasn’t made use of that roster spot.

Meanwhile, the following three teams have full 15-man rosters at the moment, but at least one of their players is on a 10-day contract that will soon expire:

  • Brooklyn Nets (14 guaranteed contracts, one 10-day contract): The Nets remain below the salary floor by about $1.235MM, so when Archie Goodwin‘s 10-day deal expires later this week, I’d expect the club to quickly fill that 15th spot. It remains to be seen whether that will mean re-signing Goodwin or adding someone new.
  • Dallas Mavericks (13 guaranteed contracts, two 10-day contracts): The Mavericks are a perfect example of a team that used 10-day contracts to find a potential keeper — they struck gold with Yogi Ferrell. Like New Orleans, Dallas has signed six different players to 10-day deals this year, with one keeper to show for it. The Mavs will have to decide next week whether either Jarrod Uthoff or Manny Harris is a keeper, or if they’ll use those two roster spots on new guys.
  • Phoenix Suns (14 guaranteed contracts, one 10-day contract): With Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and Brandon Knight no longer in the rotation, the Suns are fully in look-at-young-players mode. Jarell Eddie is currently on a 10-day contract with Phoenix, so we’ll see if he sticks.

If one of these teams wants to take a flier on a D-League prospect before season’s end, there is no shortage of options. Pierre Jackson, Keith Benson, Jalen Jones, and Jabari Brown are among the players thriving in the NBADL and earning a shot at an NBA call-up, as Adam Johnson of D-League Digest details.

Community Shootaround: Resting Players

A.C. Green has a streak that will probably never be broken, considering the way players and coaches now view the 82-game schedule.

Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192. Green’s streak looks more and more like Cal Ripken’s MLB Iron Man streak — something that no other player will come close to breaking. In today’s NBA, even a full season of games is considered too much to bear.

Coaches are resting players with increased frequency and commissioner Adam Silver isn’t happy about it. Many fans and the league’s broadcast partners are also irked by the practice of teams giving their stars who are healthy enough to play the night off. It’s become a hot-button issue now that two nationally-televised ABC broadcasts have featured a Warriors’ team sitting all their stars and the Cavaliers doing the same the following Saturday night.

Silver sent out a memo to all team owners imploring them to get more involved in decisions to sit out players, citing the “business ramifications” of these healthy scratches. It’s certainly not good for TV ratings and it shortchanges fans who bought tickets to these games, expecting to see LeBron James and Stephen Curry instead of second- and third-stringers.

Silver also called for significant penalties to be levied on teams who don’t given sufficient notice that they’re going to sit players.

Along with contenders giving their regulars a rest, some non-contenders are shutting down veterans to take longer looks at their younger players. The Suns are in case in point — they had to sign a player to 10-day contract on Sunday just have eight players suit up for a game earlier this week.

The flip side of the argument is that contenders want to keep their best players fresh for the postseason, rather than wear them out to collect a few more regular-season victories.  As James, who has missed six games this season, points out, “A coach’s job is to figure out a way for their team to compete for a championship, not compete for a game.”

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you believe that the NBA needs to curtail the practice of resting players? If so, how should the league address the issue?

Please take to the comments section to voice your opinion. We look forward to your input on this topic.

Poll: No. 8 Seed In Western Conference

For most of the 2016/17 season, seven Western Conference teams have comfortably held postseason positions. The Warriors and Spurs have led the pack, followed by the Rockets, with the Jazz, Clippers, Thunder, and Grizzlies rounding out the top seven. The order those teams finish in has yet to be determined, but none of them are in danger of losing their playoff spots.

That leaves just one open spot for Western Conference teams vying for playoff contention, and the battle for the No. 8 seed has been an interesting one. With one or two exceptions, virtually every team in the bottom of the Western standings has been viewed as a viable candidate for that final postseason spot at some point since October — even the last-place Lakers created a little buzz when they opened the season with a 10-10 record before falling off significantly.

At this point, two teams look like top contenders for that No. 8 seed, and those two clubs actually completed a trade with one another just last month. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers swapped Mason Plumlee for Jusuf Nurkic in February, and those players have thrived with their new teams, helping to position them for a run at the West’s No. 8 seed. Both teams have been among the NBA’s best so far in March — Denver currently holds a one game lead over Portland with 13 to play, but the Blazers have won three games in a row and have a favorable schedule down the stretch.

Ultimately, it might not matter much which team claims the No. 8 spot — neither the Nuggets nor the Blazers is a serious threat to upset the top-ranked Warriors (or Spurs). Still, either club could at least make things a little interesting in round one as a frisky underdog, given how well they’ve been playing as of late.

What do you think? Will it be the Nuggets or the Blazers in that No. 8 spot at the end of the regular season? Or will another Western team – such as the Mavericks, Pelicans, or Timberwolves – sneak into that final spot with a hot streak in the season’s final weeks?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

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We strongly encourage commenting at Hoops Rumors, but we do have basic rules of civility. Comments of this nature are not allowed at Hoops Rumors:

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If you see comments that fit the above criteria, please flag them and/or contact us. Bans may be handed out liberally by our moderators, without second chances. Remaining civil is not that difficult, and most commenters have no problems doing so, nor with helping rein each other in. We are grateful for long-time commenters and readers, though this policy applies equally regardless of tenure.

This policy is always available at the bottom of the site, and will be re-posted monthly.

Weekly Mailbag: 3/13/16 – 3/19/16

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at [email protected] Here are this week’s inquiries:

Who do you think will be awarded the NBA Coach of the Year? Mike D’Antoni of the Rockets, Scott Brooks of the Wizards, Gregg Popovich of the Spurs or who else? — Greg Dizon

For several months, D’Antoni seemed to have the award locked up after taking a dysfunctional team that barely made the playoffs last year and turning it into one of the powers in the West. Putting James Harden into the Steve Nash role and surrounding him with shooters has been a brilliant move as Harden has become the league leader in assists. However, the recent surge by the Wizards, who are now in contention for the top spot in the East, at least creates an interesting race. Some other deserving candidates who will probably get overshadowed by D’Antoni and Brooks are Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City, Erik Spoelstra in Miami, Brad Stevens in Boston and Rick Carlisle in Dallas.

Can you see teams who don’t have any picks in this year’s draft buying in? I’m thinking the Cavs, Warriors, Grizzlies and Pelicans will try find their way in due to the depth of this year’s class. — Chris Hawkins
The first-rounder that New Orleans sent to Sacramento in the DeMarcus Cousins trade is top-three protected, so there’s a small chance that the Pelicans will keep it. They obviously could use draft help, but they don’t have many assets left to trade for a pick. Of the teams you mentioned, the Grizzlies are most likely to try to trade into the first round. The core of their roster is getting very old by NBA standards, and their first-rounder is headed to Portland by way of Cleveland and Denver. For elite teams like Cleveland or Golden State, a first-round pick can sometimes be a burden by filling up a roster spot with a young player who needs time to develop. Either team may decide to trade into the first round if they find an opportunity and a player they like, but both will probably be content trying to uncover second-round gems.
Will the Clippers sign someone? — Richard Garcia
We can’t guarantee it, but the organization is exploring its options. The latest report has them among the teams keeping an eye on Carlos Boozer while he wraps up his playoff commitments in China. A story last week linked L.A. to Omri Casspi, who has been medically cleared after breaking his thumb last month, but that was later denied. With the Clippers locked in a tight race for playoff positioning and a tough first-round series ahead, we expect them to add at least one more player before the season ends.

Community Shootaround: James, Wade, Paul, Anthony

When LeBron James speculated last season about one day joining forces with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, it seemed like just a fantasy. But recent events have created uncertain futures for three of the NBA’s four most famous friends.

Wade will miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a sprain and fracture in his right elbow on Wednesday. He left open a chance that he might return for the playoffs, but Chicago has fallen to 32-37 and two games out of the eighth spot in the East. Wade has a $23.8MM player option for next season, which might be tough to top on the open market, but if Wade opts out he may have already played his final game with the Bulls.

Paul is considered a sure thing to exercise his early termination option and forego a $24,268,960 salary for next season. At age 31, Paul will be seeking one last long-term contract to carry him through the end of his NBA career. Whether that deal comes from the Clippers could depend on L.A.’s playoff success. With Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick all headed to free agency, owner Steve Ballmer will have to decide if huge luxury tax payments are justified to keep the team together. Currently tied for fifth in the West, L.A. is likely to enter the postseason without home-court advantage.

The playoffs aren’t a concern in New York, where Anthony is toiling for the 12th best team in the East. He has been in a long-running feud with team president Phil Jackson and was the subject of trade rumors involving the Clippers, Cavaliers and Celtics prior to the deadline. Anthony is signed through next season, then has an early termination option for 2018/19. There’s a growing feeling that he might be willing to waive his no-trade clause this summer to join a contender and get away from Jackson.

That brings us to today’s question: Where do you think Wade, Paul and Anthony will be playing next season, and will they someday team up with LeBron before they all leave the NBA? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. We look forward to what you have to say.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 3/11/17 – 3/18/17

Every week the Hoops Rumors staff compiles original content to complement its news feed. Here are a few of our favorite segments and features from the past seven days.

  • We doubled back on all of the probable 2017 lottery picks that have been involved in trades and explored where they’re likely to end up now that we’re into the final month of the regular season.
  • The annual MIT Sloan Conference is an excellent place to get insight from some of the best minds in basketball, we polled past and current executives about some player awards and the trade deadline.
  • A handful of player options could dramatically impact certain possible free agents, not to mention the teams that they play for. We looked at just what hinges on the decisions that players like Dwyane Wade and Greg Monroe will have to make this offseason.
  • There’s no denying that role of analytics in basketball has grown tremendously over the course of the past two decades. We looked at how traditional scouting tactics and modern data-driven management have evolved over the years.
  • We took a good look at some of the best content the NBA blogosphere has to offer. Take a look for yourself and be sure to hit us up with the best reads you find heading forward.
  • The NBA draft is approaching and that means we’ll soon get waves of reports that certain underclassmen are testing the waters to see how they might fare in the draft. Keep your web browser locked on Hoops Rumors for our updated accounts of the NBA Draft’s Early Entrants.
  • Our latest fantasy basketball column zeroes in on a pair of big men who have seen their stocks skyrocket over the course of the past month. Go add Jusuf Nurkic and Alan Williams in your leagues, then check back in for the rest of the fantasy tips.
  • You have questions, we have answers. Here is the latest Weekly Mailbag with answers to legitimate questions like “Would the No. 1 seed impact Kawhi Leonard‘s MVP chances?” and “Why is Spencer Hawes still a Buck?
  • Oh yeah, and send us your questions for next week’s mailbag!
  • So your favorite team is terrible! That’s okay, there’s still reason to be optimistic. Follow along with our 2016/17 NBA Reverse Standings to get a better idea of where you might land in the lottery. Except maybe you, Nets fans, it’s probably better that you don’t.
  • Keeping up with the wave of players slated to star in this summer’s BIG3 league can be overwhelming, so we broke down everything that there is to know so far, all in one place. From player age to their NBA career PER, consider Hoops Rumors your one-stop shop for BIG3 roster news.
  • Every now and then we like to hand the mic over to our readers so that they can weigh in on some of the pertinent topics in the league. Here are this week’s Community Shootarounds.
  • You can still catch up on the Hoops Rumors Originals from last week, too. Check them out and let us know what you think.

Send Us Your Mailbag Questions, Hoops Links Submissions

Every Sunday at Hoops Rumors, we publish a pair of features that rely on input and submissions from our readers. One is our Weekly Mailbag, in which Arthur Hill answers a few questions related to the latest news and rumors from around the NBA. The second is our Hoops Links feature, which showcases a selection of notable NBA blog entries from all over the internet. In each instance, the content for those features comes from you.

Have a question regarding player movement, free agent rumors, the salary cap, the NBA draft, or the top storylines of the week? You can e-mail them here for consideration for our Weekly Mailbag: [email protected]. If your question doesn’t get selected for our mailbag, be sure to join us on Monday afternoons for our weekly live chat.

Got a new NBA blog post that you’d like to see featured on Hoops Rumors? You can send the URL and a brief description of the piece to [email protected] for consideration.

Be sure to send us your new mailbag questions and NBA blog posts each week, and check back every Sunday to see if you’ve been featured in that week’s installment!

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