Basketball:

Kevin Love’s Criminal Misuse Our own Jordan Cohen writes about Kevin Love’s potential, and how the Cavs are not letting him achieve it. Love is consistently one of the best post players in the NBA, and has been a historically great elbow player, but the Cavs predominantly use him as a spot-up shooter. If the Cavs want to succeed they must begin to use him correctly.

The Spurs’ Bench Could Probably Make Playoffs Neil Paine examines the Spurs’ box plus-minus, or the point differential when a lineup is on the floor. He finds that the Spurs’ first five off the bench would have the third highest box plus-minus in the league, only behind Golden State’s and San Antonio’s starters.

Kevin Love Just Isn’t Working With The Cavs Tim Bontemps argues that the Love experiment has failed in Cleveland. He believes the Cavs should trade Love before he costs them a championship.

There Are Only Four Real NBA Contenders Shlomo Sprung explains why there are only four teams that can win this season’s NBA title: Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and Cavs. Nonetheless, Sprung explains why that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch the games, as the current talent level is off the charts.

Miami Heat Have Tons Of Talent, But Stars Must Sync Tim Bontemps writes about the struggles of the Miami Heat this season. He explains that a lot of the problems stem from having young talent and teaching them how to work together. If the Heat can unite, and continue their excellent defense, they will be a tough team to beat come playoff time.

Forces of Character: A Conversation with Gregg Popovich Chad Hennings interviews Gregg Popovich. In the interview, the two discuss how Popovich finds players that have lives outside of basketball and are not ego maniacs. He believes that players that can make fun of themselves are necessary for winning teams. Overall, this interview sheds light into how Popovich has built a dynasty in San Antonio.

Checking in on Marcus Smart Jay King, Boston sportswriter, argues that Marcus Smart is improving into a viable NBA guard. He explains how Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens has begun to use Smart as a defender against NBA bigs, and more surprising, is doing so effectively.

Kyle Lowry Could Make Toronto An NBA Finals Contender Neil Paine, writing for FiveThirtyEight, argues that Kyle Lowry’s improved shot selection and offseason weight loss have made him an elite point guard. Payne examines teams who have had players that excel in scoring efficiency and defensive box plus-minus and contends that these teams do well in the playoffs.

Timofey Mozgov Inconsistent Play Could Be Costing Him Millions Shlomo Sprung details Cavs’ center Timofey Mozgov and his horrendously inconsistent play. He argues that, because Mozgov is a free agent this upcoming offseason, the Russian big man’s poor play may cost him a max contract.

Warriors, Spurs In A League Of Their Own Ben Leibowitz analyzes the point differentials of the Spurs and Warriors from a historical perspective. What he finds is that both teams are top-five historically great.

Family Business: For Gasol Brothers, Basketball Is Small Part Of Larger World Rob Mahoney examines the lives of Pau and Marc Gasol. He studies how the two, while on-court rivals, maintain such a strong relationship. Essentially Mahoney is arguing that the Gasol brothers take basketball incredibly seriously, however, their relationship goes far beyond basketball.

Hassan Whiteside’s Statistical Outlier and Other Playmaking Notes Seth Partnow analyzes the number of assist chances created with possession time to discover how long it takes an individual player to create an assist chance. This affirmed the fear about Whiteside, which is that he is a horrendous passer, taking twice as long to generate an assist chance than the NBA average.

D’Angelo Russell Still Has Room For Improvement Kellan Jansen analyzes D’Angelo Russell’s rookie season. He finds that Russell has the fourth highest PER of all guards drafted as high as he was in NBA history. In sum, Jansen believes Russell will be closer to superstar than to a bust.

J.J. Redick and Shot Quality Positive Residual, writing for Nylon Calculus, argues that Redick’s improvement this season is not solely because of shot quality. In fact, Redick’s shot quality has decreased. But that Redick is shooting at a more efficient level than he has in the past.

Football:

This Might Be The NFL’s Best Defensive Final Four Ever Neil Paine, writing for FiveThirtyEight, argues that the teams contending for their respective conference championships make up the best defensive final four ever. Since the AFL-NFL merger, utilizing rush defense and pass defense statistics, this group ranks as the fourth best ever. Paine uses a harmonic mean — a statistical analysis that heavily penalizes low results — and found that this is the second best final four ever, only to the 2010 class.

The Rams Won’t Get As Much From LA As The Lakers And Dodgers Do FiveThirtyEight analyzes how popular the Rams will be in Los Angeles. They find that, due to the nature of TV revenues, the Rams will not be able to coax the popularity of the Lakers nor the Dodgers.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Took Huge Leap As A Passer In 2015 Kevin Seifert looks at advanced football metrics to analyze how good Cam Newton’s season was compared to the elite passers. He argues that, simply due to a much improved completion percentage, Cam Newton has become an elite passer on top of being an elite rusher. This was done by increasing his completion percentage by seven percent and decreasing his off-target throws by eight percent. Hence, a significantly higher percentage of Cam’s incompletions in 2015-16 have come from receiver drops, and not dumb throws.

Cardinals’ Blitz-Heavy Strategy Could Backfire Against Cam Newton Aaron Schatz argues that the Cardinals’ strategy of heavily blitzing on most defensive percentages (they blitz more than 49% of the time) in order to cause opposing quarterbacks to make mistakes. Schatz, though, notes that blitzes do not do anything to decrease quarterback efficiency, and in fact, causes the Cardinals to allow a league-high Quarterback Rating on third down. The issue, however, is Newton does extraordinarily well against the blitz. His completion rate stays nearly the same, but in situations where the opponent sends five pass rushers, his yards per attempt increases by nearly one yard per attempt. This same trend can be seen with slight differentiation as opponents send increasing numbers of pass rushers.

Word of Muth: Broncos Charge Ahead Ben Muth examines the Broncos dominant offensive line. He contends that if the Broncos can defend the backside edge pass rusher they could be in position to defeat the Patriots.

Film Room: Denver’s Defense Cian Fahey studies what defensive strategies Wade Phillips will send at Tom Brady. It is well known that Brady increasingly struggles the more he gets hit. Thus, Fahey studies film to understand what pass rush strategies and coverage strategies the Broncos will use to combat Tom Brady and the Patriots’ efficient offense.

Soccer:

Was Van Gaal Right to Downplay De Gea Display? Jonathan Wilson examines David De Gea’s supposed dominating performance against Liverpool last weekend. Van Gaal argued that De Gea only had a small number of saves. What Wilson argues, though, is that United’s defense played atrociously bad, and therefore, De Gea play a crucial role in winning the match.

The Force Is Still With Leicester City But History May Not Be Sean Ingle admits Leicester City have played great this season, and will continue to be dominant in the Premier League. He argues that fatigue as a result of Leicester’s combative midfield, Leicester’s lack of possession time, and general history suggests that the Foxes may fall apart before the season ends.

Baseball:

Sabermetrics Is Killing Bad Dugout Decisions Ben Lindbergh argues that, due to the advent of sabermetrics, bad dugout decisions such as pitchouts, intentional walks, and sacrifice bunts have become corpses. This saves pitchers pitches, and thus creates a more efficient game.

UFC:

Dominick Cruz’s Amazing UFC Comeback Continues To Keep Us On Pins And Needles Chad Dundas argues that Cruz’s defeat of TJ Dillishaw should be recognized as one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Cruz has not fought since 2011, but nonetheless, has come back even better than ever. And, due to Cruz’s personality, the fast American fighter loves every minute of this story.

“I’m Dressed Like El Chapo In His Prime” – Conor McGregor Berates Rafael De Los Anos in Presser Continuing his love of psychological warfare, Conor McGregor won the UFC 197 press conference. Everything from his dress, to his speaking, to his personality allowed him to outplay his next opponent by large margins in the press conference. This is ahead of their next bout in March.

Sports: by Stats:

Is Pau Gasol Worth Trading For? We examine Pau Gasol’s offensive and defensive metrics to decide if he has trade value in today’s NBA.

The New Metric, January 11-18 In this week’s metric, the Thunder have become the third best team in regards to total dominance when being both average on offense and defense.

The Boston Celtics and Marcus Smart, Are They The Next 2003-04 Pistons? This article draws comparison between Marcus Smart’s gritty defense and that of the 2003-04 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons.

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