Basketball:

Russell Westbrook Wasn’t Supposed To Get Better Than Kevin Durant Neil Payne analyzes situations where a team’s “robin” has overtaken its “batman” in terms of talent. What he finds is that unlike Scottie Pippen taking over for Michael Jordan, Pau Gasol taking over for Kobe, and Magic Johnson taking over for Kareem, Russell Westbrook seems to remain “batman” for the foreseeable future. Additionally, this is the first time this change in pecking order has occurred without internal conflict (i.e., Shaq and Kobe).

Letter To My Younger Self Ahead of his jersey retirement, Chauncey Billups writes a letter for Players’ Tribune analyzing what his life was like as a young NBA player. This is a great article for two types of people: (1) fans of the early 21st century Pistons’ teams; and (2) people who are seeking to learn what young players face early in their careers.

There’s nobody in the NBA quite like Serge Ibaka Mike Prada, writing for SB Nation, examines how crucial Serge Ibaka’s talents are to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He argues that Ibaka, and not Porzingis, is the true unicorn of the league. Abaci’s defensive and offensive skills are exactly what the best teams want in today’s NBA.

Tobias Harris Is Worth Detroit’s Time Zach Lowe argues that Tobias Harris is exactly the type of player Detroit needs to make a playoff push. In some ways, he has the potential to fill the “Rasheed Wallace role” in Stan Van Gundy’s system.

Cowboy Way: Dirk Still Loving The Ride Chris Ballard writes a piece of long-form journalism analyzing Dirk Nowitzki’s career, and how he adjusted to the new Mavericks this season. He also compares the conclusion to Kobe’s season with Dirk’s.

Can Phil Jackson Come Back And Save The Lakers? Trevor Lane argues that, if Phil Jackson does decide to leave New York, he would be a perfect replacement for Mitch Kupchak in Los Angeles.

Potholes In Golden State’s Road To 73 Matt D’Anna compares the 1995-96 Bulls’ schedule and their wins and losses with that of this season’s Golden State. He then finds four clusters of games where Golden State is more likely to lose.

Courtney Lee Was One Of The Greatest 3-And-D Wings In Grizzlies History Ian Levy charts Memphis’s 3-and-D players – those that shoot a high three-point percentage and defend well – throughout the team’s history. He finds that Courtney Lee was one of, if not the most dominant of these types of players.

Charting 3-And-D-Ness Ian Levy, following the success of the above article, attempts to chart players that are elite “3-and-D” players. Essentially, players that shoot a high three-point percentage and are good defensive players. Furthermore, he finds that the empirically best “3-and-D” players are Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green.

We Know Better Now – A Note on Outdated Statistics Seth Partnow, writing for Nylon Calculus, argues that points off turnovers and points in the paint are outdated statistics. Rather, they suggest utilizing “points off of steals” and “points at the rim.”

Markieff Morris Trade Just What Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards Needed Derek James contends that the Markieff Morris trade will workout perfectly for both parties. He believes Morris’ scoring ability will make him a perfect fit in DC. And moreover, that Phoenix’s gaining of a first round pick was exactly what can help the Suns rebuild.

Cavaliers Trade For Channing Frye Austin Peters argues that, in the Channing Frye deal, the big winners were Portland, and to a lesser extent, Cleveland. Portland was able to rise above the salary floor as well as gaining a future asset. Furthermore, Cleveland was able to lower its luxury tax bill while adding a more valuable player. Although, Peters notes, Frye may not be the piece that allows the Cavs to compete with the Warriors in June.

Oklahoma City Thunder Trade For Randy Foye Chris Barnewell argues that the biggest aspect of this trade was the Thunder gaining a competent three-point shooter. Before this point, the Thunder lacked a reserve of outside scorers.

Utah Jazz Trade For Shelvin Mack With Second Round Pick “This seems like a fair trade for both sides with Utah getting a point guard they can trust to manage the game a little more than Raul Neto or Trey Burke, and Atlanta getting a draft pick for a player that had, for the most part, fallen completely out of the rotation.”

Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets Agree to Win-Win Deal for Donatas Motiejunas Bryan Toporek argues that, on one hand, Houston was able to gain a protected first round pick for two players they were planning on losing. Additionally, he argues, “acquiring Motiejunas and Thornton virtually assures them of a playoff berth.” But, when examined more closely, Toporek contends that Detroit is facing a rental on two injury prone players, just like Houston was.

Baseball:

Don’t Buy The Sabre-Metricians John Feinstein, writing for CBS Sports, argues there is an inherent flaw in sabremetrics: that they don’t account for all aspects of a baseball team. For example, he brings up the examples of Derek Jeter and A-Rod, where the later was a statistically better player but only won one World Series with the Yankees.

The Giants Are Sneaking Into The Velocity Era Jeff Sullivan argues that the San Fransisco Giants are slowly adding more sabremetrically-valued pitchers. More specifically, over the past decade, the Giants have significantly begun to utilize high velocity pitchers.

Soccer:

Losing Wayne Rooney Will Hurt (But Not Cripple) Manchester United Michael Caley argues that the loss of Wayne Rooney will not be the end of Manchester United. He argues that Rooney’s goals creates per 90 minutes are about league average, and are less than other teammates on Manchester Untied.

Sports: by Stats:

In The Age Of Efficiency, Is Pass Efficiency Important? Jordan Cohen analyzes how pass efficiency has impacted the growth of modern NBA offenses.

Post-All Star NBA Power Rankings, 14-1 We rank our top 14 teams in the NBA up through the all-star break.

Post-All Star NBA Power Rankings, 30-15 We rank the worst 16 teams in the NBA up through the all-star break.

The Dominance Metric, February 1-14 This week’s metric update shows San Antonio gaining on Golden State and Oklahoma City holding sole possession of third place.

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