Summary of “Takeaways From the Sloan Conference”

“I’m not a person that frowns upon analytics,” ex-NBA player Jalen Rose said this weekend during a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.
Morey pointed out that although a statistic like RPM can pick up on how some players provide a role when they’re on the floor that helps the team win, “That player could be very replaceable by multiple players with that same skill set. Even though it’s correct that they’re creating that winning, in our roles of having to decide player to player, you have to think about how else can you fill that role.” In other words, data can’t be the be-all and end-all.
One front-office stats guy told me that he observes people making mistakes most frequently with NBA.com’s defensive rating, which is a team statistic, not a player statistic.
The situation, the referees, the players on the floor, and luck all play a significant role in any number that a machine spits out.
Multiple league executives say that a better way of analyzing defense is to focus on the process rather than the results-looking at whether rotations were on time or late, or the way in which a player navigated a screen to chase a shooter, or whether a player was in the right position to help.
Intriguing Trade-Reform Ideas Morey said he thinks the fundamental challenge with trades is that draft picks are the only way to bridge the gap between how two teams value one player.
“The value changes up and down all the time, and it makes for a not-very-liquid market.” Morey said that the league should allow teams to put player-performance conditions on draft picks during trades, so that a pick’s ultimate position could be affected by the success or health of a traded player.
Bhostgusters! The coolest research paper at Sloan this year is titled “Bhostgusters: Realtime Interactive Play Sketching With Synthesized NBA Defenses.” In the paper, a five-person team from the Technical University of Munich aims to approach “Play sketching from a data-driven perspective.” In layman’s terms, you can draw up a play on a touch screen using their system, then simulate how a defense might respond to it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Kawhi Leonard’s Potentially Lost Season Means for the League”

Monotone as ever, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich casually dropped a bombshell after a team practice on Wednesday: Kawhi Leonard will be out for the rest of the season, as far as he’s concerned.
Forty-year-old Manu Ginobili, who almost retired last season, also came back to help what was supposed to be another chance at knocking off the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
For the remainder of the season, expect a larger focus on Murray and a heaping helping of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is in the middle of a bounce-back season.
Pop said before the season that he realized he was forcing Aldridge into the wrong role-good timing for someone now permanently this season’s first option.
The Spurs got only nine games out of Leonard so far, and as a result, have played outside their means this season; their record is nothing short of valiant.
Pop’s sorcery with a healthy Kawhi is, plausibly, enough to beat the Rockets in a potential 2-3 semifinals rematch from last season, assuming the Warriors regain the top seed by season’s end.
What about James Harden’s Game 6 meltdown against a Kawhi-less Spurs from last season, you ask? Chris Paul might have a few words.
More WTF Spurs Speculation More time spent on the bench means more time to stew for Kawhi.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Crystal Small Ball: Predicting the NBA’s Second Half”

Which team will make the biggest push in the second half? Danny Chau: The Sixers.
The Heat are mostly an anonymous team, but they do feature a player you’re bound to hear about over the next few years.
O’Connor: It’s the same team as it was before the season: Houston.
Who will get left out of the West playoffs: Clippers, New Orleans, Portland, and/or Utah? O’Connor: New Orleans is at a severe disadvantage without DeMarcus Cousins, but the Pelicans still have the best player of any of the four teams on the bubble, so it’s hard to pick against them.
Tjarks: The good people at Denver Stiffs did a nice breakdown of the schedule for all of these teams, and the one that stands out is Utah, which plays 11 games against non-playoff contenders who don’t have much incentive to win.
It’s hard to top the existential dread induced by your owner telling Dr. J that your team is a loser, but the Kings recently started a lineup in which the oldest player was Bogdanovic, a 25-year-old rookie.
O’Connor: Mark Cuban said the best option for the Mavericks is to lose, which is certainly true, but it’s largely fascinating because the statement could either suck the life out of the team or motivate it more than ever to close the season strong.
Which team will finish first in the East standings? O’Connor: The Raptors are the deepest team in the East, and they seem to be getting better and better as the season progresses.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why A.I. Researchers at Google Got Desks Next to the Boss”

A growing number of tech companies are pushing research labs and other far-reaching engineering efforts closer to the boss.
A year ago, the Google Brain team of mathematicians, coders and hardware engineers sat in a small office building on the other side of the company’s campus.
“Any C.E.O. thinks a lot about where people are sitting – who they can walk around and have casual conversations with,” said Diane Greene, who oversees Google’s cloud computing team and sits on the board of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Google is placing big bets on the A.I. being explored by researchers like Mr. Goodfellow.
These big companies are trying to duplicate the vibe of a Silicon Valley start-up, where the boss is next to everyone.
Ms. Greene, who was the chief executive of the software company VMware, said she had always made a point of sitting beside the top engineers because they saw the company’s future.
After Facebook went public and started a big push for revenue, important members of the ad team moved next to the boss, said Antonio García Martínez, who wrote a book about his experiences inside Facebook.
The boss is also showing them how important they are to the company.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What’s the Most Stable Franchise in the NFL?”

Here’s a list of all 32 teams, ranked from most to least stable heading into next season.
Pittsburgh appears ready to hit the ground running in 2018, but a few major questions hang over the team’s figurative head: Will star running back Le’Veon Bell get a new deal-or is a holdout or possible retirement on the table? What will the offense look like under new coordinator Randy Fichtner? And how can the team add depth to a linebackers group and secondary that got exposed by Blake Bortles and the Jaguars in the divisional round?
Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton was erratic as a passer for most of last season, the team fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula and lost defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to the Cardinals’ head-coach job, and the franchise is up for sale.
Still, what Seattle has over most of the teams that follow is a bona fide, proven franchise quarterback.
Kyle Shanahan-along with GM John Lynch and returning defensive coordinator Robert Saleh-has San Francisco poised for big things, but a few uncertainties remain: First, they must officially lock in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for this season, whether that means a long-term deal or the franchise tag.
There are just two huge, glaring issues: Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, the architect behind the team’s offensive explosion last year, is gone, and the team has zero quarterbacks under contract.
The team’s got a new set of coordinators, and a new offensive line coach.
New head coach Mike Vrabel sounds dedicated to modernizing the team’s offense under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and Tennessee gets an experienced, respected defensive coordinator in Pees, who should bring toughness and physicality to that side of the ball.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Stronger Than Steel, Able to Stop a Speeding Bullet-It’s Super Wood!”

Scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys.
Their simple, two-step process starts with boiling wood in a solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite, a chemical treatment similar to the first step in creating the wood pulp used to make paper.
The densified wood is also substantially harder, more scratch-resistant and more impact-resistant.
Perhaps most importantly, the densified wood is also moisture-resistant: In lab tests, compressed samples exposed to extreme humidity for more than five days swelled less than 10 percent-and in subsequent tests, Hu says, a simple coat of paint eliminated that swelling entirely.
Densified wood provides new design possibilities and uses for which natural wood is too weak, says Peter Fratzl, a materials scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany who did not take part in the study.
One team, led by materials scientist Lars Berglund at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, has come up with a way to make windowpanes of wood.
The researchers infuse the lignin-free wood with a polymer called methyl methacrylate, a material better known by trade names such as Plexiglas and Lucite.
In the garage there may be a car whose chassis and bumpers could be composed of densified wood rather than steel and plastic-knock on wood.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Isaiah Thomas Talked His Way Out of Cleveland”

For the past few weeks, Isaiah Thomas has been talking like someone who doesn’t watch Isaiah Thomas play basketball.
Thomas reflected on his time in Cleveland, with the trade deadline looming: “[I] just want to be where I’m wanted.
Even when the Cavs won, as they did on Wednesday, Thomas came out of it losing.
Isaiah Thomas is everything we want from a modern athlete.
“I don’t know the last time we got on the floor for a loose ball,” Thomas said after the Cavs got blown out by the Rockets, 120-88.
Thomas appointing himself the ombudsman of Cleveland is even more fascinating when you consider that that position was already filled by LeBron James.
“Like, that’s all I can say about that. If somebody’s worried about that, what did you trade me here for? To not shoot? To not find my rhythm? To not be Isaiah Thomas? I can’t be anybody else. So, whoever’s saying that, I mean, I don’t know what I’m here for if I’m not here to score the ball and make plays.”
In Cleveland, Thomas didn’t just become useless; he became a nuisance.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Golden State Warriors, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers”

With a brand-new Cleveland Cavaliers roster, Isaiah Thomas in L.A. and some potential contenders waiting for the buyout market, let’s take a look.
The only moves before Thursday’s trade deadline that will impact the NBA’s championship picture were the three trades made by the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.
The consensus seems to be that the Cavaliers have dramatically improved their chances of winning a second championship before LeBron James can become a free agent this summer.
Since returning from his hip injury, Thomas has been one of the league’s least effective players, and replacing him with a point guard rotation of George Hill and Jordan Clarkson will immediately improve the Cavaliers.
Surely, neither Boston nor Toronto wants to see even a lesser Cleveland team in the playoffs after the Cavaliers soundly defeated both en route to last year’s NBA Finals.
RPM projects Cleveland as nearly average defensively, which would be a huge improvement for a team that currently ranks 29th in defensive rating.
Still, the pressing question of who the Cavaliers’ third-best player is after James and Love remains up for debate, and that’s a big downgrade from when Kyrie Irving was a part of Cleveland’s big three.
The Cleveland Cavaliers opened up two additional roster spots with their trades.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Justin Olsen Will Get Lost”

All of the new push athletes wanted to be on the ten-year veteran’s sled, USA-1; Olsen surprised everyone when, in his second season, he landed the coveted spot and started pushing for Holcomb in the two-man.
Holcomb returned to driving just as Olsen started to shine as one of the team’s best push men.
The legendary driver remained reclusive, but Olsen had a penchant for opening him up-cracking jokes about the young upstart one day beating the older vet, peppering Holcomb with questions about what to look for during walks down the track, indoctrinating him into Olsen’s not-so-secret Swiftie side.
Last March, Holcomb and Olsen were in Pyeongchang for a World Cup race-the first on the new track built for the 2018 Games.
On their second day, while Holcomb was still bumping the wall, Olsen ran it clean and explained to Holcomb what he’d done.
Barefoot, Olsen ran through the halls to the opposite wing of the building and found two of his teammates hugging outside Holcomb’s door, tears streaming down their faces.
Holcomb’s death doesn’t make it harder to drive, Olsen says.
What’s difficult are the waves of yearning for more time spent walking down the track, knowing that Holcomb would do anything to help Olsen improve.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Winners and Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline”

The Cavaliers blew it up, defining what was a fascinating NBA trade deadline.
All of the NBA execs I talked to after the deadline thought this team got better on paper.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers There were rumblings hours before the deadline that the Lakers were using Nance as a sweetener to dump Clarkson, who is owed nearly $26 million over the next two seasons.
10 overall pick in 2014, dealt for a second-round pick, but the Nuggets traded Emmanuel Mudiay, drafted seventh in 2015, in a three-way trade for 34-year-old point guard Devin Harris.
Winner: Phoenix Suns The Suns entered the trade deadline three years ago with a trio of point guards: Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Eric Bledsoe.
The Grizzlies should’ve come away from the deadline with something outside of moving Ennis to Detroit, they ended up with virtually the same team they started the day with.
Winners: Teams Probing the Buyout Market Though the Grizzlies turned down decent offers to keep him, Evans is at the top of a long list of players who could now be bought out.
Losers: Guards Entering Free Agency Lou Williams’s new three-year, $24 million contract isn’t bad considering the upcoming market correction.

The orginal article.