What We’re Reading: Let’s Get Nerdy

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, every Saturday, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.

The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference started this Friday in Boston and thus we have seen an overwhelming amount of pieces this week that focus on the advancement of the game of basketball as well as some deep analytical looks into current NBA action.  We’ll start with Ian Levy at Hardwood Paroxysm as he kept a running diary of the conference all day Friday and continued to do so on Saturday as well.  While some of it is true, Levy does a good job embellishing some of his experiences and satirically looks at some of thing things that make Sloan so interesting every year.

One topic discussed a few times over the weekend was the length of NBA games and possible ways to shorten them with replay becoming more and more prevalent.  At Hickory High, guest writer Art Rondeau wrote about possibly using free throws as a way to speed up games and keep them from dragging on too much. Rondeau suggests that there are roughly between 60 and 90 seconds wasted each time a player steps to the line for a two-shot foul.  He mentions that 60-90 seconds may seem insignificant, but when added up over the length of an entire game, it becomes extremely significant.  He also suggests some helpful ways to save some time during technical free throws.

Another change discussed in the last week is the introduction of a four point line in the NBA as well as an expansion of the game floor.  NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn confirmed in an interview with ESPN that the NBA has discussed the possibility of both changes, but only in an exploratory fashion.  The major reasoning behind a possible court expansion is growing size and athleticism of NBA players and the belief that a larger floor might help improve gameplay.

At Hardwood Paroxysm, Andrew Lynch took a turn delving deep into the statistics and took a closer look at the offensive and defensive efficiency of every team in the last 40 years.  Lynch examined the offensive and defensive rating of each of these teams (points per 100 possessions) and decided that those ratings don’t actually tell the whole story because every season is vastly different.  So, Lynch crunched some numbers and created a number that measured offensive and defensive ratings for every team in the last 40 years on the same scale to find truly elite offensive and defensive squads.  The numbers are really fun to manipulate and could be a source of entertainment for hours.

Rather than taking a closer look at the past, Houston Rockets analyst Ed Kupfer decided to take a closer look at this season as he graphed out how each team’s offensive and defensive efficiency numbers changed game-by-game this season.  The graph presents an interesting look at each team’s offense and defense throughout the season and when they’ve been particularly good on either end of the floor for extended periods of time.  Some things that the numbers accentuate: 1) Oklahoma City is scary good on both ends of the floor. 2) Miami’s defense has been both very good and very bad this season and is currently somewhere around average. 3) Chicago’s defense is as good as its offense is bad.  4)Indiana’s offense has consistently gotten worse in the new year.

Let’s move to the exact opposite of deep analytical breakdowns: ridiculous comments from unnamed sources!!!  This past week, ESPN published an article that contained a comment from an unnamed source that mentioned their belief that Rajon Rondo is the most overrated player in the league and not among the league’s Top 40 point guards.  Evans Clinchy at Celtics Blog questioned why ESPN would allow an article with such an outlandish quote from an unnamed source to even be published.  He went on to question why unnamed sources are still used regularly for stories and how anonymity can allow sources to get away with saying silly things without taking responsibility.

Moving from unnamed sources to direct quotes from coaches and players, Rebecca Lawson of Mavs Moneyball spoke with multiple players and Rick Carlisle after the Mavericks victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday night to try to find out what’s going on in Dallas right now.  The Mavericks were 9-3 in the month of February and have been one of the hottest teams in all of the NBA recently.  Her most interesting tidbit came from Dirk Nowitzki, who hurt his shoulder in the 1st quarter and told Lawson post-game that the origin of the injury is a hack from Karl Malone in 1999.

In another piece featuring great quotes, Matt Moore of CBS Sports chatted with Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller after he appeared on CBS’s “Undercover Boss” this past week.  Moore was able to find out quite a bit from Miller as he was pretty candid in his discussion, which was somewhat surprising considering the struggles the Jazz have had in the last few seasons.  The greatest takeaway might have come in Moore’s discussion of the new CBA with Miller and Miller’s statement that as long as his family owns the team they will never go into the luxury tax.

In our weekly reminder of terrible Knicks basketball, Jared Dubin broke down what makes the Knicks defense so terrible this season.  It starts with the Knicks’ inability to defend the pick and roll.  Dubin broke down the numbers and showed that are the league’s worst defense in defending pick and roll ball handlers and roll men.  Along with their inability to defend the pick and roll, the Knicks are also ineffective at defending the three point line as the Warriors and Blazers, two teams that play at a very quick pace, are the only two teams that have given up more three pointers this season.

We will finish up What We’re Reading with two of the best writers in the business talking about how they do their jobs.  This week, Lee Jenkins stopped by Paul Flannery’s Drive and Kick podcast to discuss how he attempts to go about storytelling in his NBA coverage.

That’s all for this week.  Remember…reading is FUNdamental.

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