Do The Celtics Have Enough Star Power To Win a Title Not

The Boston Celtics, after whiffing on trades for Jimmy Butler and Paul George, finally got some good news this week when Gordon Hayward announced that he was leaving the Utah Jazz to play for the Celtics. Although Isaiah Thomas would have some beef with this assessment, Hayward’s well-rounded combination of skills will probably make him the best player on the Celtics next year. He’s a good fit with the team’s approach.And yet, projection systems (including our own CARMELO) are somewhat skeptical of the Celtics, not expecting them to improve on last year’s 53-29 performance or to seriously challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy. Hayward is also fairly expensive; he’ll cost the Celtics $128 million over four years (the fourth season, 2020-21, is a player option). So let’s ask a tough question of Boston and general manager Danny Ainge: If Hayward is the best player on your team, could that team plausibly be good enough to win a championship?The answer is probably not. Hayward made the All-Star team last season, but he’s a long way from being a superstar. A handful of modern NBA teams — the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Detroit Pistons, the 2003-04 Pistons, and the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs — won a title with someone about as good as Hayward as their best player. But this is unusual: It requires a team to be constructed almost perfectly, with above-average players at nearly every position, a deep bench, and a cohesive rotation. It sometimes also requires a fair amount of luck.1The “Bad Boys” Pistons peaked just as the 1980s Celtics and Lakers were declining, but before Michael Jordan’s Bulls really took off, for example.But Hayward can be a building block toward a championship. He’s roughly as good as the second-best player on a typical championship team. That might sound like faint praise, but it’s no small achievement.Let’s develop some terminology to describe degrees of the stardom in the NBA. I’ll introduce three types of players: Alphas, Betas and Gammas.An Alpha is a player who’s as good as the best player on a typical championship-winning team. This is an MVP contender — one of the half-dozen best players in the league.A Beta is as good as the second-best player on a typical NBA champion. As I mentioned, Hayward is a good example of a Beta. Betas are usually All-Stars, perhaps even All-Star starters, and they’re among the best players at their position. But they’re not among the very best players in the league.And a Gamma is good as third-best player on a typical championship team. A Gamma might be an All-Star, but he usually won’t make one of the three All-NBA teams. He probably has one or two weaknesses (defense, shooting, etc.) along with his obvious strengths. But he’s still a very good player and might be the best player on a non-contending team. Thomas, although he’s somewhat difficult to evaluate because of his defense — various statistical systems rate it anywhere from mediocre to execrable2There’s a big difference between mediocre and execrable. If Thomas’s defense is merely somewhat below average, as the NBA’s opponents’ shooting data suggests, then his offense more than makes up for it and he’d probably qualify as a Beta. If it’s terrible, as RPM suggests, then Thomas is barely even an above-average player overall. Classifying Thomas as a Gamma, as CPM does, is something of a compromise between these assessments. — is a reasonably good example of a Gamma.At any given time, only a few dozen players in the league will rated as Alphas, Betas or Gammas. (CARMELO projects that there will be 35 of them in 2017-18, for example.) It’s these players who determine who competes for NBA championships. Doesn’t depth matter also? Well, sure. A well-rounded roster is often the difference between winning a title and losing one. But a team needs its share of star-level talent to compete for a championship in the first place. Otherwise, it’ll usually wind up like last year’s Celtics, a well-constructed team that was overmatched in the playoffs.Below, you’ll find a table listing the top three players on NBA championship teams since 1984-85 — the first year the league used a salary cap — as rated by a statistic called Consensus Plus-Minus. Consensus Plus-Minus, or CPM, is a statistic I use when I don’t want to get into arguments about the value of individual players. It reflects a combination of four popular statistics — Real Plus-Minus,3RPM is available from the 2000-01 season onward. For seasons prior to 2000-01, I use BPM twice in the average. Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating — equally weighted and translated to the same scale. It also adjusts for the player’s position, which the other metrics do not,4CPM measures a player’s value relative to the positional average, rather than relative to the league average. Right now, there’s an excess of good centers and point guards but less depth among small forwards and shooting guards. This adjustment helps Hayward, who plays both those positions. and it regresses players’ ratings to replacement level if they fall below a certain threshold of playing time.5If the player plays less than 20 minutes per team game — or 1640 minutes over an 82-game season — his actual CPM is blended with a replacement-level CPM of -2 points per 100 possessions. For predictive purposes, we think CPM is liable to be slightly less accurate than the blend of statistics CARMELO uses (a combination of RPM and BPM), but CPM is still a perfectly reasonable stat and much more in line with the consensus view of NBA players. Like BPM and RPM, CPM is expressed in net points added or subtracted per 100 possessions. So a player with a CPM of +2.5, teamed with four average players, would help his team to outscore his opponents by 2.5 points per 100 possessions, for example. 2000LakersO’Neal10.0Bryant5.0Horry2.5 1999SpursRobinson6.9Duncan5.2Elie2.8 Kyle Lowry3.7Paul Millsap2.6 2002LakersO’Neal8.4Bryant4.7Horry1.9 2006HeatWade8.0O’Neal5.2Mourning2.4 2011MavericksNowitzki4.9Chandler2.8Kidd1.9 216721.2– Rudy Gobert3.6Kevin Love2.4 2016CavaliersJames8.9Love3.2Irving2.1 PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/- 1993BullsJordan9.4Pippen3.6Grant2.7 DeMarcus Cousins4.1Isaiah Thomas2.8 STAR POINTSTEAMSCHAMPIONSCHAMPIONSHIP PROBABILITY How much star power does an NBA team need?Probability of team winning a championship based on star points 2004PistonsB. Wallace4.3Billups3.8R. Wallace*1.7 This makes for a fairly intuitive list. LeBron, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are the league’s six Alphas. Chris Paul falls just short of the Alpha category; instead, he joins players such as Hayward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis on the Beta list. Gammas include players like Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, John Wall, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap.So then all you need is an Alpha, a Beta and a Gamma and — presto! — you win an NBA championship? Actually, your options are more flexible than that. A team with an Alpha and a Beta — say, this year’s Houston Rockets — could probably skip the Gamma if they had a deep rotation. A team with no Alphas but three Betas — say, Jimmy Butler, Antetokounmpo and Kyle Lowry — would more than likely be good enough to contend for a title. A team with a very strong Alpha could go without a Beta and make up for it with two or more Gammas instead — that’s sort of how the current Cavaliers are constructed.To help teams think through these decisions, let’s invent one more statistic, which I’ll call star points. The formula is simple: A team gets three star points for each Alpha on its roster, two for each Beta, and one for each Gamma. Next year’s Warriors project to have 9 star points, for example: three each for Curry and Durant, two for Draymond Green and one for Klay Thompson.Even having that much talent on your roster doesn’t necessarily guarantee a title. But historically, a team’s chances of winning a title are remote if it has four or fewer star points. It has a fighting chance with five or six star points, depending on how the rest of the roster is constructed. And its probability increases rapidly once it acquires seven or more star points. CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating 1987LakersJohnson8.2Abdul-Jabbar2.2Worthy2.0 1991BullsJordan10.9Pippen4.9Grant3.6 2001LakersO’Neal8.9Bryant4.8Fox0.6 57479.5– 2015WarriorsCurry9.9Green4.4Thompson4.3 114700.0 Hassan Whiteside2.0 2010LakersBryant4.5Gasol3.7Odom2.2 YEARTEAMNO. 1 PLAYER+/-NO. 2 PLAYER+/-NO. 3 PLAYER+/- ALPHASBETASGAMMAS How good were the best players on recent NBA champions?Player ratings based on Consensus Plus-Minus (CPM) 1992BullsJordan8.7Grant5.7Pippen5.6 2007SpursGinobili7.2Duncan6.6Parker3.4 1997BullsJordan7.7Pippen5.5Kukoc4.1 Kevin Durant6.7Karl-Anthony Towns4.1Mike Conley2.9 1989PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman3.1Johnson1.3 Kemba Walker2.2 1995RocketsDrexler*6.1Olajuwon5.7Smith1.0 1985LakersJohnson5.6Abdul-Jabbar5.3Worthy1.6 2012HeatJames10.8Wade7.5Bosh1.7 This system isn’t perfect, but it lines up intuitively with how we evaluate teams. After the Warriors and their nine projected star points next season, the Cavaliers and Rockets are the closest thing the league has to ready-made title contenders, as they’re tied for second at five star points each. They’re followed by the Thunder, Timberwolves and Pelicans at four each; these four-point teams probably need at least one more thing to click (say, George taking the next step in Oklahoma City) to be title-worthy. The Celtics are one of several teams with three star points.This measure can underrate the importance of team depth; the Spurs, who have only three star points, are rated too low, for instance. The Celtics — although they’re losing a few players to make room for Hayward — are also a deep team, with lots of average or slightly-above-average players and lots of draft picks to keep priming the pump. They could probably compete for a title with five star points, therefore, instead of needing six or seven. Adding another Beta-level player might be enough to do the trick.It’s hard to see where that player comes from, however. The Celtics lost some of their financial flexibility in signing Hayward. And while they could develop a star player rather than acquiring one, giving more playing time to young players such as Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum could make them less competitive in the short run.If there’s one Celtics move that looks bad in retrospect, it isn’t necessarily trying and failing to acquire Butler or George, it’s trading the No. 1 draft pick for Philadelphia’s No. 3 pick, with which they chose Tatum. While Tatum has a fairly promising projection, he doesn’t have the upside of No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, whose comparables include players such as Harden, Westbrook and Wall. The trade might have made sense for a team that already had its stars in place and wanted to develop complementary players around them, but the Celtics have plenty of complementary players and are short on stars.At the same time, it would be easy to underestimate the challenge Ainge faced. The Celtics’ 53-29 record last year was deceptive, in that it came against a weak conference and relied on what were arguably career years from several players, including Thomas.7The Celtics also outperformed their 48-34 Pythagorean record by several games. In many respects, they were a rebuilding team dressed up as a competing team. And precisely because the Celtics weren’t just one player away from contending for a title, Ainge needed to acquire a player like Hayward or Butler without compromising the Celtics’ ability to acquire or develop another such player down the road. Even if the Celtics are still a star away from seriously contending for a title — maybe even a superstar away — that’s closer than they were last week. Average7.44.62.5 To no one’s surprise, the best players on title-winning teams are usually extraordinary talents. Among the 33 NBA champions since 1985, the top-rated player on the team, according to CPM, was one of the three best players in the league that season on 23 occasions. And the team’s best player was among the top 10 in the league on all but three occasions. The exceptions were Bill Laimbeer of the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Pistons (CPM, perhaps dubiously, rates Laimbeer ahead of his teammate, the other Isiah Thomas) and Ben Wallace of the 2003-04 Pistons. Pretty much all the other No. 1 players are current or future Hall of Famers, however, with the possible exception of Manu Ginobili, who may be a borderline case.No matter how brightly he shines, however, a superstar usually can’t deliver a title without a good sidekick or two.6Take LeBron James’s 2012-13 season, for example, when he had a CPM of +10.6 and played almost 38 minutes per game — about as good as an NBA player can be under modern conditions. A team with that version of LeBron, plus a roster full of replacement-level players, would still project to go only 41-41, according to our forecasting method. A team with that version of LeBron plus a roster full of league-average players (as opposed to replacement-level players) would project to go 59-23, which is closer to being a title contender. League-average players don’t just grow on trees, however. On average, the second-best player on these championship teams was the 14th-best player in the league, according to CPM. And although not every champ had a classic “Big Three” like LeBron James’s Miami Heat, the third-best player on the championship team rated as the 37th-best player in the league, on average — still very solid.So let’s get back to the idea of Alpha, Beta and Gamma players, which were meant to correspond to a typical championship team’s best, second-best and third-best players. By looking at the historical data, we can define these classifications as follows:An Alpha has a CPM of +6.0 or higher.A Beta has a CPM of between +3.5 and +6.0.And a Gamma has a CPM of between +2.0 and +3.5.I re-ran CARMELO using CPM instead of its usual blend of statistics, and it projected the following players to be Alphas, Betas and Gammas for the upcoming NBA season: 1990PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman2.6Thomas1.7 2014SpursGinobili4.8Leonard4.8Mills3.2 Klay Thompson2.1 2009LakersBryant6.0Gasol3.6Odom3.0 2017WarriorsDurant8.3Curry6.7Green3.7 Stephen Curry7.0Nikola Jokic4.8DeMar DeRozan3.0 Who are the NBA’s championship-caliber players?Projections based on Consensus Plus-Minus for 2017-18 2003SpursDuncan7.5Robinson3.8Ginobili1.1 314342.8– CONSENSUS PLUS-MINUS Gordon Hayward3.8DeAndre Jordan2.7 1994RocketsOlajuwon5.8Horry1.9Thorpe1.6 Blake Griffin3.7Otto Porter Jr.2.5 2008CelticsGarnett7.8Pierce4.5Allen2.8 Victor Oladipo2.1 Kawhi Leonard6.8Anthony Davis4.3Paul George2.9 410321.9– CJ McCollum2.1 021600.0% James Harden7.4Jimmy Butler5.5Bradley Beal3.2 2005SpursDuncan7.5Ginobili7.1Barry1.9 1998BullsJordan6.0Pippen5.0Kukoc2.5 LeBron James7.0G. Antetokounmpo5.2John Wall3.0 Russell Westbrook8.2Chris Paul5.9Damian Lillard3.3 Draymond Green3.8Kyrie Irving2.8 1996BullsJordan9.4Pippen5.6Kukoc4.6 Star points: 3 points per Alpha player, 2 points per Beta player, and 1 point per Gamma player. Table includes all teams since the 1984-85 season. 1986CelticsBird7.7McHale5.4Parish2.5 CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating.* Player was acquired midseason. His +/- total reflects performance for entire season, and not just for the acquiring club. 642614.3– 725832.0– 8 or more13430.8– 1988LakersJohnson5.2Scott3.1Worthy1.9 2013HeatJames10.6Wade5.8Bosh1.2 read more

Mens Basketball Ohio State to step up after Muhammads injury

Ohio State freshman guard Duane Washington Jr. (4) runs the ball down the court during the second half of the game against UNC Pembroke on Nov. 1. Ohio State won 81-63. Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo EditorNo. 16 Ohio State suffered another loss in its 72-62 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday night. Late in the second half, freshman guard Luther Muhammad took a hard fall and was escorted off the court with the help of the training staff. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann said after the game that Muhammad had suffered a shoulder dislocation. The head coach said Tuesday that he is out indefinitely and there is no timetable for his return, saying he is doubtful for the Big Ten opener against Minnesota on Sunday. “It is a significant impact, but we’ve got confidence in the next guys in the rotation being able to step up in his absence,” Holtmann said. The head coach was not sure who would take Muhammad’s place in the starting lineup, saying he is thinking about how different lineups gel together, how specific players compliment each other when on the floor together. Sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson said the loss of Muhammad is big because of his defensive ability, but the different guards on the roster are ready. “Everybody is going to be ready like I always talk about. Everybody’s been ready since June,” Wesson said. “Losing him is huge because he is one of our better defenders … so he’s a loss, but we are going to have experience coming off the bench.” But Holtmann’s first thought was not who would replace Muhammad in the starting lineup. It was on senior guard C.J. Jackson, a player who the head coach expects to step up in a major way defensively. “C.J. Jackson has to defend better than what he has through this part of the season,” Holtmann said. “He’s more capable of that than what he has shown and I think having Luther alongside him has allowed him to maybe be a little bit looser in that area. So we are going to need more because he is capable of it.”  Holtmann said he did have two guards in mind when it comes to taking more of a major role in the absence of Muhammad: redshirt senior Keyshawn Woods and freshman Duane Washington Jr. Through the first seven games of the season, both Woods and Washington have contributed consistent minutes off the bench, with the redshirt senior averaging eight points per game, shooting 45.7 percent from the floor with a team-leading 22 assists. Washington, in his first season on the team, is leading the team in 3-point shooting, connecting on 13 of 29 attempts from deep. The 13 made 3s is also tied for the team lead.Washington said he was prepared for an increased role, earning “starter’s minutes” as Holtmann said in the near future. “I’ll be ready for whatever coach needs me to do,” Washington said. “That’s what we practice every day for, that’s what workouts are for. Whatever he needs me to do, I’ll be there for it.” But Muhammad’s absence is not only about his defensive ability. Washington said Muhammad brings an emotion and a passion to the game, an energy that is not seen in every program around the country. The freshman guard said he saw it in Muhammad’s defense, clapping on defense, finding his way to the team’s best offensive player. Holtmann did not know how Muhammad’s injury would affect the spirit of the team moving forward. At this point, that was not his main focus. “Our first concern in all this is Luther’s health. It’s not by any stretch career damaging or anything along those lines,” Holtmann said. “It’s a significant injury that will need time to heal. How it affects the life of our team, I’m interested to see.” But in his absence, Washington sees himself becoming that emotional leader for Ohio State. “I definitely feel like I can help with that missing piece for however long he will be gone,” Washington said. “Hopefully he will be back soon, but most definitely.” Wesson said this was something he saw in Washington from the first time he visited Ohio State. The sophomore forward said the team was “dog tired” when Washington came, having an open gym for him and another recruit after already having a team workout and a lift. But Washington was different than other recruits, according to Wesson. “He was just like ‘pick it up.’ He was telling us ‘pick it up. Let’s play for real. I’m not trying to play if you are not playing for real.’ And we were just sitting there looking at him like, ‘This young guy don’t know what it is to play ours yet. What?’” Wesson said. “Ever since then, I just knew he’s intense, he wants to do this, he wants to be better, he wants to be great.” Washington said he used that open gym to test himself, to see of he is build to play at the college level, to play at Ohio State. With the loss of Muhammad, Washington and the rest of the roster will have to bring that energy, to “pick it up” in his absence. read more

Deschamps Mbappes injury is not serious

first_imgFrance coach Didier Deschamps downplayed the seriousness of Kylian Mbappe’s shoulder injury from Tuesday’s 1-0 friendly win over UruguayThe teenage superstar was forced to withdraw on the 36th-minute in Paris after landing awkwardly on his right side from a collision with Martin Campana.Mbappe was seen clutching his painful shoulder as he entered the tunnels, but reappeared later on at the French bench.Now Deschamps revealed that injury doesn’t appear to be a serious one, although Mbappe will still take tests this morning to determine the full extent of the damage.“He had a shoulder pain after his fall and he has to take exams on Wednesday morning,” said Deschamps, according to Goal.“But there is no particular concern.Opinion: Neymar will earn respect back from the PSG fans Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 After completing his incredible return to Parc des Princes, we predict that Neymar will earn the respect back from PSG supporters.The situation between Neymar…“There was a shock, a pain, but I do not think there was any twisting or tear.”Olivier Giroud scored a 52nd-minute penalty to give France the win on Tuesday.Kylian Mbappé now forced off with a shoulder injury during tonight’s friendly between France & Uruguay. Liverpool’s lucky evening so far. (Image | YS) pic.twitter.com/L4iXobwKgH— Get French Football News (@GFFN) November 20, 2018last_img read more

Amazon delivers hefty profits led by web services

Amazon’s reveals its Prime service has 100 million members Citation: Amazon delivers hefty profits, led by web services (2018, April 27) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-amazon-hefty-profits-web.html The earnings beat market expectations and came with an announcement that Amazon is raising the annual Prime subscription rate in the US to $119 from $99, effective next month.Prime has been a strong driver of Amazon revenue, but it has also heaped on costs as the company invests in logistics for deliveries and online content including original television shows, according to executives.Amazon said it earned $1.6 billion in the first three months of this year on revenue that soared to $51 billion from $36 billion in the same period last year.Amazon shares climbed more than seven percent to $1,626 in after-hours trades that followed release of the earnings figures.The Seattle-based firm spotlighted the juggernaut growth of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division, which hosts services and content that companies use in the internet cloud.AWS leads big-name rivals Microsoft and Google in the market that has boomed with the lifestyle shift to accessing movies, music, games and more from online devices.”AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition, and the team has never slowed down,” Amazon founder and chief Jeff Bezos said in the first quarter earnings release.”That’s why you’re seeing this remarkable acceleration in AWS growth, now for two quarters in a row.”Alexa woos kids, familiesAmazon has also been investing aggressively in artificial intelligence to bolster its cloud services platform, with features like automated language translations, and building Alexa digital assistant software into cars, smart speakers and more.Amazon also this week introduced a “Free Time” version of Alexa that includes an Echo speaker for children.This offers parental controls and family-friendly features including filtering out foul-mouthed songs, education answers, encouragement to use the word “please,” and blocked ability to buy things with voice commands. Amazon delivered a hefty profit in the past quarter, fueled by growth in cloud computing as well as online commerce Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, seen at the opening of the Amazon Spheres, in Seattle, Washington, has announced the internet giant will be building a second headquarters in North America Internet colossus Amazon on Thursday reported that its quarterly profit more than doubled on soaring revenue from online commerce and cloud services. Amazon introduced an Echo Dot Kids Edition for $70 that comes with an unlimited family plan for a period. © 2018 AFP Explore further Expanding empireAmazon reported sales from its online stores in the first quarter rose 18 percent from the same period a year ago to $26.94 billion.Amazon has found success with its own streaming music and movie services, one of the perks of its Amazon Prime, which the company says now has 100 million members.Streaming television is included in an Amazon Prime subscription service that also offers free, fast delivery of products purchased at the online retail powerhouse.Amazon has been broadening its business by moving into new sectors, notably with the acquisition of the Whole Foods grocery chain.The research firm eMarketer said online commerce represents about 60 percent of Amazon’s business but that it also will generate $3.37 billion in global advertising this year.Digital advertising has become a “multi-billion-dollar” part of Amazon’s business and is growing quickly, according to executives.Amazon has been making gains in online advertising, evidently at the expense of market titans Facebook and Google, according to industry trackers.Amazon’s success has made Bezos the world’s richest individual, worth more than $100 billion. The company has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump, who has argued that the tech giant gets a sweetheart deal from the US Postal service, a claim which is disputed by many analysts.Separately Thursday, the US National Football League announced that it is renewing a partnership with Amazon Prime Video to deliver a live streams of Thursday night football games.Streamed games will be available to the more than 100 million Amazon Prime members worldwide in over 200 countries and territories, according to the NFL.”We are excited to work with them again for the next two seasons,” NFL chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp said in a release. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more