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The Case For Russell Westbrook MVP

Russell Westbrook is the MVP. You are likely already familiar with Westbrook’s claim to the award because every conversation that suggests someone else is the MVP must do the work of explaining why it is not, obviously, Westbrook.Westbrook’s case for MVP is self-evident. His season-long triple-double is a historic accomplishment, and its grandeur only grows when adjusted to account for the way the game is played today. Here are the top seasons for the triple-double stats sorted by John Hollinger’s Versatility Index, which shows how good players are at those three metrics, combined1Versatility Index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists per 100 possessions., which adjusts for pace: Source: NBA.com SEASONPLAYERPOSS. PER GAMEPTSREBOUNDSASSISTSVERSATILITY INDEX Versatility index is the geometric mean of points, rebounds and assists (per 100 possessions).Source: basketball-reference.com 4’14-’15Westbrook95.741.110.612.517.6 3’15-’16Westbrook96.733.911.315.118.0 LeBron James126+15.140.667.332.124.6 Jimmy Butler141+12.831.563.041.329.4 … 34’61-’62Robertson124.926.710.89.914.2 PER 100 POSSESSIONS 1’16-’17Westbrook97.844.815.114.721.5 James55.152.3+2.840.937.2+3.7 DeAndre Jordan105+3.21.968.818.723.4 5’04-’05Garnett89.131.419.18.016.9 Isaiah Thomas163+18.225.065.446.026.4 2-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE3-PT SHOT PERCENTAGE Kawhi Leonard137+24.023.055.440.428.5 Source: NBA.com PLAYERCRUNCH TIMENET RATINGASSIST %TS %USAGE %PIE DeMar DeRozan139+16.128.854.842.926.1 PLAYERTEAMMATES’ WIDE-OPEN 3-PT % James42.4 Source: NBA.com Top NBA players by involvement during crunch time In general, the more possessions a player uses,2Plays on which a player takes a shot, draws a shooting foul or commits a turnover. the less efficient his personal offense becomes. You can see the frontier of exceptional player seasons forming a rough diagonal, sloping down from Kevin Durant’s 2016-17 in the upper left to Westbrook’s in the lower right. Generally, that’s the frontier of achievement for maximizing efficiency and usage, and anything that breaks past the outer rim is in the running for the best season in NBA history. Curry’s 2015-16 was more or less unprecedented, but was followed up quickly by Isaiah Thomas and Harden this season, each putting up absurd efficiency numbers with what have traditionally been extremely high usage rates. Then there’s Russell Westbrook.While a glance at the advanced stats (55.4 true shooting; 41.7 usage percentage) will give you the gist of the relationship — less efficient, more usage — they mask just how far out of the norm Westbrook has been. He has bucked the trend that’s afflicted super-high-usage NBA players for as long as the league has existed: Westbrook’s usage has exploded … and his efficiency hasn’t really changed. As a challenge to the basic makeup of NBA efficiency trends, Westbrook’s season is just as much of an aberration as Curry’s 2015-16.This is the final entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the cases for James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James and Stephen Curry. Also, check out our NBA predictions.That said, just because Westbrook’s season has been impressive does not necessarily make it useful or valuable. And while it’s undeniably hard to do what Westbrook has done, it’s been an open question how much value there is in his tirelessly filling up the box score while also eating up possessions. Players such as Curry and Harden, who shake up the ratio by adding efficiency to a standard-issue star player workload, are far easier to evaluate. But a player who can take on limitless responsibility with seeming immunity to defensive attention is a dangerous tool in situations where good possessions are hard to come by, even if he isn’t the most efficient guy on the floor. We’ve seen Westbrook deliver in those situations this season.An unstoppable, moderately efficient forceWestbrook has been laboring under LeBron-esque playoff demands all season long as the late-game anchor for a severely offensively handicapped team.Westbrook’s crunch-time numbers this season are comical. We’ll define “crunch time” here as the last five minutes of a game (or overtime) in which neither team has a lead greater than five points. In those situations, Westbrook has been unstoppable. His already absurd usage percentage jumps from “just” 41.7 to 62.3. (Sixty-two point three!!!)Something else interesting happens to Westbrook during crunch time: As his usage goes up, so does his efficiency. His true shooting percentage creeps up to 56.9, and his assist percentage goes to 58.3. While he’s on the court in crunch time, the Thunder is outscoring opponents by 21.7 points per 100 possessions (up from +12.5 overall). In fact, Westbrook’s work rate late in games is so prolific that he produces as much value as entire teams. No, really.We know this thanks to a little-noticed stat on the NBA’s stats site called Player Impact Estimate, or PIE. PIE is the share of all box score activity in a game (so points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) with deductions for negative stats (turnovers, missed shots, personal fouls). The average for a player should be about 103Since there are 10 players on the court., and the average for a team about 50.4Since each team makes up half the players. It’s an especially useful stat when used in tandem with net rating, because you can then see both how well a player is doing individually (the PIE rating) as well as how well the team is performing overall (the net rating).5Net rating is just a team’s scoring differential per 100 possessions.Anyway, Westbrook’s PIE in crunch time is 40.3, meaning he accounts for about 40 percent of both teams’ combined activity all on his own — a greater share of game stats in his clutch minutes than five teams6The Pistons, Heat, Lakers, Nets and Suns. collect as a whole. The Thunder as a team has a 61.4 PIE in crunch time, fourth in the league, which tracks more or less with its 19.9 net rating, which ranks second overall. Westbrook58.2%48.6%+9.633.1%31.4%+1.7 Harden62.652.5+10.134.037.6-3.6 A player totally unfettered from the effect of a defense is dangerous all game long, but a particular nightmare late in games.Team composition mattersOK, so Westbrook can get his whenever he wants to get his. No one really doubts this. But Westbrook’s ability to get his teammates quality shots is a lingering question because Westbrook is not Curry, who distorts the parameters of the game without even touching the ball. Curry’s teammates find better shots and make more of them without Curry ever having to generate a traditional assist. But Westbrook’s teammates … let’s just say not even Curry could charm Andre Roberson into hitting his wide-open 3s.The Thunder roster is not quite as bereft of talent as it’s sometimes made out to be — Steven Adams is a very good center, and Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo and a few young players like Domas Sabonis all have their uses. But the team’s players are the worst long-range shooters in the league.This is made clear when we separate out the team’s doomed long range shots. 2’16-’17Harden100.038.410.714.818.3 PLAYEROFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFFOFF PASSES FROM PLAYEROTHER SHOTSDIFF Curry40.0 Anthony Davis163-2.78.351.736.124.8 Harden38.3 The best pace-adjusted triple-double seasons Nevertheless, clucking about the righteousness of one MVP candidate over another inevitably returns to an epistemological debate about “value.” And there are a variety of cases to be made for players who had less outstanding, but perhaps more “valuable,” seasons than Westbrook did. James Harden moved to point guard and turned in a season that was two parts Steve Nash, one part Corey Maggette, and his Houston Rockets have faint yet plausible finals hopes. LeBron James had the best statistical season of his career at age 32, in his 14th year in the league. And Kawhi Leonard squeezed 61 wins out of a depleted San Antonio Spurs roster on which Dewayne Dedmon has a reasonable claim to being the second-best player. Each of those players’ teams has a far greater chance than Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder of making the finals and winning a championship.But what if a player is uniquely valuable when the stakes are highest? We’ve seen an example of this before: LeBron James during the 2015 Finals. During that series, James took two games against the ascendent Warriors basically all by himself. James led all players in points, rebounds and assists, and did so while carrying a true shooting percentage of 47.7 and a usage percentage of 39.3. It was a marvelous series for James despite his poor efficiency, in part because his efficiency remained basically in proportion to what’s expected of the most efficient stars despite an altogether absurd workload.Russell Westbrook has done over 82 games what James did for six. He has scrambled our sense of what game-altering dominance looks like in the age of advanced stats, and he’s done it largely without the benefit of the most important tool of the modern game: reliable 3-point shooting, from himself or his team. Westbrook’s success this season has argued convincingly that top-end efficiency isn’t an absolute requirement for success in today’s NBA, so long as you can make up for a dip in quality with sheer force of quantity.Efficiency is not a vacuumAmong a certain part of the advanced stats-minded crowd, Westbrook is easy to dismiss as an outdated, high-usage, low-efficiency volume shooter in an NBA that has moved beyond ball hogs. This makes sense if you view the split between Westbrook and high-efficiency players like Harden as a proxy battle in some broader war for the aesthetics of basketball. On one side you have the game played as a brutal, Pat Riley-style combat sport, and on the other the spread-’em-out game of the Rockets or Warriors. But Westbrook is defying the norms of efficiency, too. He’s just doing it in his own way.Take a look at this chart showing usage percentage and true shooting percentage, which originally ran in an article by my colleague Ben Morris, in which he made the case for Steph Curry as the MVP: How teammates shoot after passes from their stars Russell Westbrook148 min+21.758.3%56.9%62.3%40.3 When a Westbrook pass leads to a 2-point shot, his teammates are shooting 58.2 percent; when they take 2-pointers not directly following a pass from Westbrook, they shoot 48.6 percent. This is a massive difference, but also a logical one: Players shoot better when their point guard sets them up for shots.Things go downhill quickly once OKC ventures out beyond the arc. There, Westbrook passes lead to makes on only 33 percent of attempts; without Westbrook passing to them, his teammates make 31.4 percent. Both numbers are staggeringly bad. The Thunder simply don’t have players who can shoot NBA 3-pointers. Westbrook30.9% Curry58.555.5+3.041.835.6+6.2 STATS DURING CRUNCH TIME Leonard47.249.6-2.443.838.3+5.5 As a team, the Thunder were a bit above average at creating wide-open 3s (meaning the nearest defender was six or more feet away). Getting open 3s is good! Except, they shot 32.4 percent on those wide-open looks, good for dead last in the league. Westbrook himself shot 40 percent, which means the rest of the team shot 30.9 percent. Again, on wide-open 3s. No defender within six feet. Thirty point nine percent. A tabletop cactus could shoot 30 percent with the defense out to lunch.So while Westbrook does not have as profound an effect on his teammates’ shooting as his peers, this is hard to pin on Westbrook himself when he’s holding the bag for an Oklahoma City front office running back the ’93 Knicks.“Stat hogging” is not a phenomenonOne final line of suspicion about Westbrook’s stat line revolves around the notion that the numbers are inflated by methods unnatural to the game. One of those allegations: that Westbrook’s teammates let him collect rebounds to help stuff the stat sheets.But it’s not that simple. For one thing, stars have always received preferential treatment on cheap rebounds. There’s an old story about Rockets players getting gassed up when Yao Ming finally began to yap at teammates who tried to scoot in on missed free throw rebounds — generally the easiest to collect — because those are reserved for the star big man, and the NBA runs on hierarchy. And Kevin Love made a habit of grabbing the ball at the ends of quarters, just after the buzzer sounded, and doing a quick turn, point and grin in the direction of the scorer’s table trying to get credit for the board.7These anecdotes came from Bill Simmons interviews that are lost to history after Grantland was shut down.The Thunder also aren’t as blatant about giving Westbook rebounds as they’re made out to be. Yes, it’s conspicuous that Westbrook is pulling in 8.5 uncontested rebounds per game, up from 5.9 a season ago. But we can track how often teammates give up a rebound so that a nearby teammate can pick up the ball: It’s a stat called deferred rebound chances. This season, the number of the Thunder’s deferred chances has decreased to 16.8 per game from a league-high 17.7 a season ago. What’s changed? Well, the 6.6 uncontested rebounds per game Kevin Durant collected in 2015-16 needed to be redistributed somewhere.Unlike shooting or passing, rebounding suffers from severe diminishing returns. There are only so many rebound opportunities, and only so many bodies needed to corral them. Oklahoma City finished first in overall rebound rate, and third in defensive rebound rate. The Thunder have decided to use this surplus of rebounding to leak extra bodies out into the break, knowing their point guard can collect the rebound and start the break. In other words, the Thunder have made a conscious effort to let Westbrook get the rebounds because they think it helps them win, not just because they wanted Westbrook to hoard triple-doubles. The Thunder are fifth in percent of points scored via transition, so it’s working out for them.But there’s a downside: This strategy often leads to Westbrook playing abysmal defense as he hunts for the rebound — the number of shots he contests is dismal, and by far the lowest among league leaders in defensive rebounds, though they are more or less in the same range as those contested by Harden and LeBron. But then, Westbrook has never been a great defender, and it makes a certain amount of sense to have him sacrifice already questionable defensive attention in service of the offense, especially since the defense manages just fine (10th in efficiency) without him. That’s not an ideal outcome, of course. In a perfect world, Westbrook would be more engaged defensively, and have teammates with shooting range that extends beyond the college 3-point line. But the Thunder’s willingness to let Russell be Russell is its own sort of progress.For years now, we’ve been hearing about how evolutionary players such as Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis or even Steph Curry were set to move the NBA game forward. That has largely turned out to be true: Offense in the league has improved at record rates, primarily because players and front offices have maximized efficiency at every opportunity. The league has found a way to squeeze more production out of more specialized players. And that works just fine as a general rule. But Russell Westbrook’s season proves that’s not the only way to remake the NBA in your image. Shaving away minor imperfections in pursuit of the ideal less-for-more ratio isn’t necessary if you come equipped with a never-ending supply of more. Stephen Curry90+10.827.361.836.123.3 Which stars have teammates who can shoot? James Harden133-3.040.055.651.021.5 Leonard41.4 read more

SpiceJet Offers ₹499 Fare on Domestic Travel

first_imgIndia’s second largest domestic airline, SpiceJet on Monday announced its new fare scheme.As per the new scheme, tickets will be available from ₹499 per head with a travel validity period between 16 January and 24 October 2015.Passengers have been given only three days time to book the tickets, effective from Monday (1 September) till Wednesday, which is applicable on all direct, via and connecting flights on SpiceJet’s domestic network, the airline said in a press release.The company added that this offer includes one way fares and fuel surcharge excluding statutory tax and fees.”While the number of travellers opting for air travel during holidays has increased over the years, with the introduction of Early Bird sale, this number will only grow further. This early bird sale will encourage customers to make their holiday plans well in advance and save on travel costs at the same time,” NDTV quoted Kaneswaran Avili, Chief Commercial Officer, of SpiceJet in a press statement.”This will also allow an average Indian customer to plan for more than the typical one holiday during the year at never before rates,” Avili added.Last week, SpiceJet also announced a similar scheme offering tickets starting at ₹1,888 across its domestic destinations.The low fare airline controlled by billionaire Kalanithi Maran operates more than 330 daily flights to 48 destinations, which includes 41 Indian cities and 7 international destinations.Air India too wooed its customers on Wednesday by offering tickets at ₹100, but its website crashed on the first day of the offer with a message on the official website reading – “Service Unavailable” and “System Busy” message.last_img read more

Infosys working on GST despite uncertainty over passage of bill

first_imgInfosys is continuing its work on developing a technology platform for the proposed goods and services tax (GST), even as the uncertainty persists over the tax reform’s passage in Parliament.Bengaluru-based Infosys had secured the contract to develop the technology framework for the GST for Rs 1,380 crore.Prakash Kumar, CEO of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), was in Bengaluru on Monday to assess the progress made on the project, The Economic Times reported, citing sources close to the developments.”From our end, the project is going ahead as per plans — the delay in the Bill getting passed has not stalled anything,” said an Infosys executive, adding: “If not this session, there’s every chance that the Bill will be passed in the next session. In such a scenario, the technology framework for the GST has to be ready. So, as of now, the project is still going ahead at full steam.” The Modi government was forced to delay the passage of GST bill “indefinitely”, after it failed to get support from Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority. The government has now postponed the deadline for GST roll-out to 1 June from 1 April, 2016.But Kumar said the project is being carried out as planned.”We are already working on the IT framework,” he said. “It’s going on as planned. You don’t develop these kind of applications in one month, it takes time.”Infosys declined to comment on whether it is continuing with the project.”In case the government makes some changes, we’ll incorporate that. That’s the way it was planned,” said Kumar.”The three most important functionalities in the online system are registrations, returns and payments. We are closely monitoring the passage of the GST Bill and as of now aiming for the system to be ready by April-May 2016, with the key functionalities in place,” said Anurag Dua, director, government and public sector, at PwC.last_img read more

Hariri says free in Saudi will return home soon

first_imgAn image grab taken from the Hariri family-owned Lebanese channel, Future TV shows Lebanon’s resigned prime minister Saad Hariri speaking during an interview from Riyadh. AFP file photoSaad Hariri, whose resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister a week ago sent shockwaves across the region, said Sunday he is “free” in Saudi Arabia and will return to Lebanon “very soon”.In an interview from Riyadh with his party’s Future TV, Hariri brushed aside rumours that he was under de facto house arrest in the kingdom, from which he announced his surprise departure.“I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will,” Hariri said.“I will return to Lebanon very soon,” Hariri said, adding later that he would land in Beirut “in two or three days”.Hariri, 47, announced he was stepping down from his post in a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, and has yet to return to his native Lebanon.However, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has yet to formally accept his resignation and said the premier has been “restricted” in his movements.Hariri’s surprise resignation came as tensions rise between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing sides in power struggles from Lebanon and Syria to Yemen.At the time, Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of taking over his country and destabilising the broader region.“We cannot continue in Lebanon in a situation where Iran interferes in all Arab countries, and that there’s a political faction that interferes alongside it,” he repeated on Sunday in apparent reference to rival movement Hezbollah.“Maybe there’s a regional conflict between Arab countries and Iran. We’re a small country. Why put ourselves in the middle?”‘Rescind resignation’Wearing a suit and tie and with a Lebanese flag in the background, the former premier looked tired on Sunday and spoke softly but firmly throughout the interview.Hariri, who also holds Saudi citizenship, told journalist Paula Yaacoubian that he wrote his resignation himself and wanted to submit it in Lebanon, “but there was danger”.He also appeared to lay down an exit strategy, saying he would be willing to “rescind the resignation” if intervention in regional conflicts stopped.“We need to respect the disassociation policy,” Hariri said, referring to an agreement among Lebanese political factions that they would not interfere in Syria’s six-year war.He appeared to be alluding to Hezbollah’s military intervention on behalf of the Syrian government, to which Hariri is opposed.Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Friday that Hariri was “detained in Saudi Arabia, he is banned from returning to Lebanon”.‘Excellent’ ties with SaudiHariri has spent the past week in a string of meetings with diplomats and Saudi officials in Riyadh, including an encounter with Saudi King Salman.He left the kingdom once for a trip to Abu Dhabi.In his interview on Sunday, Hariri said he has “excellent” ties with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an apparent effort to put to rest rumours that the Saudi crown prince had pressured him to step down.“Really, I consider him a brother and he considers me a brother. It’s an excellent and special relationship,” he said.But he refused to comment on the internal political turmoil in Saudi Arabia, where dozens of high-profile politicians and businessmen have been arrested in what authorities say is an anti-graft drive.The two-time premier’s father Rafik made his fortune in Saudi Arabia and also served as premier for years before he was assassinated in 2005.Saad cited fears for his life when he resigned from his post last week, less than a year after his unity government was formed with Hezbollah.Lebanese have expressed concern that the move could thrust the country into a political and economic tailspin, as it remains unclear who could replace Hariri.Western countries moved quickly to express their support for the premier, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a “strong partner”.Tillerson warned against “any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country”.last_img read more

Juba Dal leader abducted shot in both legs

first_imgBachchu Rahman, president of Rajshahi’s Mohanpur upazila unit Jubo Dal takes treatment at hospital in Rajshahi on Wednesday. Photo: UNBMiscreants abducted a local Juba Dal leader in Rajshahi’s Mohanpur upazila and shot him in his both legs, reports UNB.The victim Bachchu Rahman, is president of Mohanpur upazila unit Jubo Dal, the youth wing of BNP, and son of Lokman Ali of Soipara village in the upazila.Locals said a group of miscreants picked Bachchu up in a microbus from the Rajshahi-Naogaon highway in his area in the afternoon.They took him to Achinghat in Bagmara upazila where they shot him in both begs before leaving the spot.Locals rescued the bullet-hit Juba Dal leader and took him to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.Contacted, officer-in-charge of Mohanpur police station Abul Hossain said he was unaware of the incident.last_img read more

7th grader girl raped accused arrested

first_imgProthom Alo illustrationA 21-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly raping a seventh grader in the Sadar upazila, reports UNB.Rapid Action Battalion on Tuesday announced that it arrested Milon Morshed, the accused, on Sunday night.He was the victim’s neighbour at Zirakhali Union’s Bhabanipur area.Milon has been named in a case filed with Kushtia Sadar police station after the rape.RAB-12 Kushtia CPC-1 unit commander Ruhul Amin said they arrested Milon from the town’s Chourhash bus terminal area acting on a tip-off.last_img

Tennessee State Opens Coding Hub For Black Schools

first_imgBy TRAVIS LOLLER Associated PressNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee State University is opening a hub for computer programing and app development that will serve historically Black colleges and universities across the country.To kick off the effort, leaders from 14 schools met at TSU’s new National Center for Smart Technology Innovations in Nashville this week to develop apps that solve real-life challenges.In this Friday, July 19, 2019 photo, Ahmad Richardson participates in Tennessee State University’s coding and app development initiative, in Nashville, Tenn. The school aims to be a hub for coding and app development at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. (Aaron Ingram/Apple via AP)Morehouse College’s Monique Earl-Lewis called the experience “mind-blowing.” The Africana studies professor said she was doubtful she would be able to learn coding but now considers herself an app developer.Apple is supporting TSU with equipment, scholarships and professional development to help launch the initiative.TSU President Glenda Glover said in a news release that the program will equip people of color, especially TSU students.last_img read more