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So I thought I’d try something new here… There’s always random snippets of news that I always want to comment on, but they don’t exactly warrant an entire post. So I’m introducing a new segment called “Quick Beats,” where I’ll have a weekly take on some of the bigger sports issues that have occurred over the week.
1. The Sloan Conference.
If you didn’t already know, the Sloan Conference is held by MIT on a yearly basis and is a platform for the discussion of sports analytics. For those of you who have seen Charles Barkley’s recent rant on the use of analytics, he actually calls out the Rockets’ GM, who is a founder of the Sloan Conference.
The Conference covers all types of sports, including basketball, football, baseball, soccer and hockey. If you’re unfamiliar with the use of analytics, to me, it’s the use of historic trends to emphasize current team building and strategy.
One of the cooler points I heard that came out of this year’s Conference was the use of virtual reality training for backup QBs in the NFL. I know that New Orleans Saints’ coach, Sean Payton, is in favor for this and his view really makes sense to me. Other than quarterback and goalies (soccer and hockey), every other professional position has multiple starting positions or a proper rotational system. So the backups at those positions have the hardest time gaining real experience, which is probably one of the biggest reasons why the QB is overpaid. Using virtual reality could really progress both the QB market and the sport of football as a whole.
My take on analytics isn’t as dramatic as Charles Barkley’s, but I think there can be a solid balance between analytics and talent. Talent has to be 70% of the equation. I use this example, mainly because I’m a Heat fan and would know this situation the best. But after losing the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, Erik Spoelstra started utilizing analytics to get his players in their “sweet spots.” But no matter how “sweet” of a spot it is, wouldn’t you rather have a guy like LeBron in his sweet spot than a guy like Carlos Arroyo? So yes, I think analytics can be added bonus to a team, but I don’t think you can build a team based on it.
2. The Cavaliers vs. the Warriors/Rockets.
Speaking of LeBron, his team was all over the news this last week due to their big-time matchups with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
LeBron just has this switch about him. And he’s not afraid to basically flaunt that he has this switch. Typically, he’s a player who wants to get his teammates more involved; he even stated that he was more excited about passing Scottie Pippen’s record for assists than passing Allen Iverson’s record for points. But he’s a guy who listens to the news and hears that he’s being ignored in the MVP debate.
So when Steph Curry, who many people consider the leader for the MVP trophy, comes to town, it was natural to expect LeBron to put on a show. And that’s exactly what he did.
His statline: 42 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals in 36 minutes of playing time.
Those numbers are 2K-worthy, and it’s something LeBron always does when he’s being ignored. He did the same thing last year in the second half of the season, when Kevin Durant was the clear front-runner for the MVP.
But then, his Cavs came out and played the surging Houston Rockets. And as the game went into overtime, you just knew that either LeBron James or James Harden would take over. But just as he hit the news with his crazy game against the Warriors, LeBron hit the news this time by missing two FTs at the end of OT that would’ve won the Cavaliers the game.
Yes, you’re the best player on the planet. And yes, you can literally dominate any NBA game that you wish. But you have to make those free throws. You’re the King, you just have to.
3. The Dez Bryant video.
Not gonna lie, I hated this story; Dez Bryant is actually my favorite WR in the league, and it’s a pipedream, but I’d love for him to join the Indianapolis Colts, so hearing that something could derail his career really bothered me.
According to many news stations, there is a video of Dez Bryant assaulting his mother (I think) approximately five years ago. While this video exists, plenty of prominent news figures have tried to attain it, but haven’t been successful in doing so.
The first reaction that I heard to this was that the Cowboys were trying to drive down Dez’s price for a long-term contract. Dez had once come out and said that he could do anything that Calvin “Megatron” Johnson could do, so I’m guessing he expected to be compensated as the #1 WR in the league. But this video could have bigger effects than just that; some people are saying that if the video becomes public, there’s a chance that no NFL team would ever look at Dez again.
Just my take on the situation… Why are athletes so stupid?
Firstly, I don’t care who you are, you shouldn’t be assaulting another person, especially your mother. These guys are literally being paid millions to play a game, and they decide that smoking weed or beating up others is worth all of that money.
If the story is true, I would think that he’d get a decent punishment from the NFL, but I can see a team giving him a chance to keep his career, just because he’s a monster on the field.
4. The NHL trade deadline.
I know nothing about hockey, so I won’t be analyzing the trade deadline or what not. But it’s just interesting to see all of the player movement in the NHL and the MLB, whereas the NFL and NBA typically have the most quiet trade deadlines.
If my research is correct, and I’m using Wikipedia right now (my English teachers would be so disappointed…), but on the 2012 trade deadline, they had 15 individual trades. And on the 2011 trade deadline, they had 16 individual trades.
Personally, I think that’s an awesome trade deadline! But I think there’s a viable reason as to why these two leagues have more activity during trading season, and it all comes down to their farming systems.
Both the MLB and the NHL have elaborate minor league systems, which allows players to develop skills at the same time as the major leaguers, and it gives team management more freedom when it comes to trading away/for big name players. I’d be more willing to sacrifice my future for a current big piece for my team, because there’s a lot of competitive substitutes for future potential. In the NBA and the NFL, there’s only college and, to a lesser degree, international leagues. Therefore, letting go of a star player or trading away draft picks for a star is less likely because there’s not as much overall talent that could replace that player or those picks.
I’m a big proponent of the NBA emphasizing D-League play and the NFL bringing back the NFL Europa. I actually think that college basketball players should be drafted to the D-League for a year minimum, so they get more experience, deal with the nuances of professional play, and get paid in the process. Then once that year is over, you’re eligible to be drafted in the NBA.
Cover picture retrieved from: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/penguins/2014/01/19/Sidney-Crosby-named-captain-of-Team-Canada-for-Sochi-Olympics/stories/201401190198
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Imran Ebrahim