29 Sep

The Case For LeBron James MVP

But volume isn’t everything. Westbrook and Harden are having historic offensive seasons, but James has them beat on efficiency (while being only a hair behind in volume). James’s true shooting percentage is higher than both Harden’s and Westbrook’s, and LeBron generates more points per potential assist than the two.3An NBA player-tracking statistic that covers all passes that lead to a shooting foul, generate an assist or would generate an assist if the shot were made. Through April 10Source: NBA LeBron James26.422.749.1 James Harden29.127.256.3 Through April 10Source: NBA And then there’s the other side of the ball, where only Leonard rivals James. Harden’s defense generally falls on the wrong side of average, often to a comical degree. Westbrook racks up his share of rebounds and steals, but the consensus is that he’s nowhere near elite. And Curry is the soft spot in the Warriors’ defense despite having made great strides. That leaves LeBron and Leonard — and while Kawhi has won the last two defensive player of the year awards, ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus estimates that LeBron’s defensive impact has been nearly twice as great this season.4Leonard’s wonky defensive metrics have been the subject of much discussion this year, and should likely be taken with a grain of salt because Kawhi may be suffering from the random noise of unexpectedly hot opponent shooting from the free throw line and on 3-pointers.So there’s a statistical case for LeBron as MVP — both offensively and defensively. But the MVP award isn’t an objective one — there’s no agreed-upon definition of value. And that means voters’ decisions often come down to the narratives that wrap around the numbers. The 1961-62 MVP award, for example, didn’t go to Oscar Robertson and his season-long triple-double, nor did it go to Wilt Chamberlain and his 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. The winner was Bill Russell — who had lesser, albeit still eye-popping, numbers — because leading the Boston Celtics to the league’s best record and top defense proved more compelling.And it’s in this category of narrative that LeBron suffers the most by comparison. His Cavaliers have slid in the second half of the season, dragged down by atrocious defensive performances. He isn’t breaking any records. At 32 years old and with 14 seasons and an absurd numbers of minutes behind him, LeBron is “only” as good as he’s ever been. But that might make him the best two-way player in the NBA this season. His story just happens to be a rerun in syndication, an episode we’ve seen a half-dozen times before.So, forget the numbers.The MVP argument for LeBron goes something like this: Measure the man against himself. If you watched LeBron carry the Cavaliers back from the brink in last year’s NBA Finals, you know he’s the best player in the NBA, full stop. Nothing he’s done, or not done, this season has changed that basic fact. Look past the glitter of round numbers and records broken. LeBron James is your MVP. Stephen Curry1.3662.5% PLAYERPOINTS PER POTENTIAL ASSISTTRUE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE Kawhi Leonard25.78.934.6 PER GAME Greatness is often easier to recognize when it looks like nothing we’ve seen before.To a large degree, this is the MVP case for Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard: The first shoulders offensive responsibility to a previously unimagined degree, piling up counting stats at a historic pace. The second leans into the hyper-efficient idiosyncrasies of his game and leads one of the most extreme and extremely efficient offenses we’ve ever seen. The third has blossomed from a defensive stopper into a two-way superstar, one of the most efficient volume scorers in the league. Each is an MVP candidate not only because he played phenomenal basketball this season but also because he is so unlike recent MVP winners.And then there is LeBron James.Statistically speaking, LeBron has been at least as productive as the rest of that group, among the other elites in any metric chosen. But he’s been so good for so long that an incredible season doesn’t stand out. For LeBron, the incredible has become mundane.This is the third entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the case for James Harden and the case for Kawhi Leonard. Still to come: Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. Also, check out our NBA predictions.Much of the MVP conversation, for better or worse, is likely to center on volume. That’s what happens when one candidate is averaging a triple-double and another threatened to lead the league in both scoring and assists. James’s averages — 26.4 points, 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game1All stats in this piece are current through April 10. — are not as flashy as Westbrook’s or Harden’s, but he’ll join them, Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan as the only players to average 26, 8 and 8 across a full season. So James isn’t that far behind Westbrook and Harden in how much offense he creates — and he has a sizable advantage on Curry and Leonard. We can see this by adding up the points each player scored and those he created for teammates with assists2Courtesy of the NBA’s player tracking statistics.: PLAYERPOINTS SCOREDPOINTS CREATED BY ASSISTTOTAL POINTS CREATED LeBron James1.3661.9 Russell Westbrook31.923.855.7 Kawhi Leonard1.2961.2 James Harden1.2761.2 Russell Westbrook1.2155.5 LeBron is more efficient than Westbrook or Harden Stephen Curry25.415.540.9 LeBron generates more offensive volume than Curry or Leonard read more

29 Sep

Mike Trout Is A 430 Million Bargain

Trout’s most similar group averaged just fewer than 1.0 WAR by age 38. And that group contains eight Hall of Famers, including Griffey, Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson and Mel Ott. To further complicate matters, the quality of competition in MLB continues to improve over time, and the game is getting younger, making it more difficult to age well.However, if 1 WAR is worth $8 million in 2019, and that value inflates by 3 percent per season (for the first five seasons),2Basic assumptions which, granted, may need re-examining. the average of Trout’s comparable group would be worth about $450 million from age 27 through age 38. And it bears mentioning that Trout has accumulated 48 percent more WAR through age 26 than his comparable group of all-time legends. (Yes, Trout is good.)So Trout seems like a very good bet to deliver more value to the Angels than they’re paying him for in this contract, even if some of the assumptions above are more player-friendly than the current state of baseball’s economics. While many MLB mega-contracts end up looking bad in retrospect, this Trout deal might be the rare one that delivers positive surplus value for the team.Either way, with no opt-outs in the deal and a full no-trade clause, Trout and the Angels are committed to each other for the long haul. If Trout is interested in winning World Series rings, he took a risk in remaining in Anaheim: He has never won a playoff game with the Angels even while establishing himself at the game’s best player. As great as Trout has been, even the best player cannot do it alone — particularly not in baseball, which is a weak-link sport that is less dependent on star talent than other sports.But in some ways, the Angels’ outlook is improving for the second act of the Trout era. Albert Pujols’s albatross of a contract is coming off the books after the 2021 season — $28 million in present-day dead money the Angels can allocate elsewhere.The Angels entered Tuesday with $28 million committed in 2022 salaries, ranking 18th in baseball despite playing in the sport’s No. 2 market in Los Angeles. (The MLB average is $35.2 million committed in 2022, according to Spotrac.) So should the Angels want to compete in the market for high-end free-agent talent in coming years — like, say, Mookie Betts (free agency ETA 2021) or Francisco Lindor (free agency ETA 2022)3Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will be a free agent after 2020. — they will have the flexibility and purchasing power to do so. As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels are closing in on a 12-year contract extension worth at least $430 million with outfielder Mike Trout, setting the all-time mark for both the largest contract (passing Bryce Harper’s $330 million deal from a few weeks ago) and the greatest average annual contract value in baseball history. Trout is a longtime object of fascination for us here at FiveThirtyEight; we’ve frequently extolled his virtues as baseball’s best and most consistent star. Now he has the record-breaking contract to match his talent — but one that might still represent a big bargain for the Angels. And the deal’s long-term nature only renews questions about Trout’s ability to win in L.A., as well as his potential to break through as a star off the field.At first glance, about $36 million per year seems like a tremendous deal for the Angels. According to FanGraphs’ estimated market values based on wins above replacement (WAR), a player with Trout’s 2018 production should have been worth about $79 million last season. That’s nothing new for Trout: FanGraphs estimates that he was worth $55 million (in 70 percent of a full season) in 2017, $78 million in 2016 and $74 million in 2016. So if Trout continues his recent pace, the Angels will basically be paying him half of what he’d be worth on the open market over the next few seasons.Of course, Trout is also 27 this year, traditionally the age at which baseball players peak. Trout’s new deal will take him through 2030, his age-38 season. Even though no player in baseball history has posted more career WAR through their age-26 season than Trout,1According to a mix of WAR from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com. it’s probably safe to assume that Trout won’t continue to be a 10-WAR-per-season machine throughout the entire life of this contract.The old saying that “Father Time is undefeated” remains true — perhaps truer now than ever. And even star-level players peak more quickly than you might expect. While Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were superstars late into their careers, other outfielders similar to Trout — such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones — fell off a performance cliff after age 30 and never recovered.Here’s a plot of the 10 retired outfielders most similar to Trout through age 26 (according to The Baseball Gauge), along with the arcs of their seasonal WAR as aging took hold: Perhaps most important for the club’s long-term prospects is the productivity of its farm system. For much of Trout’s tenure with the Angels, the club had one of the worst farm systems in baseball. The Angels’ system ranked last in baseball in 2014, 2016 and 2017, according to Baseball America. That’s begun to change. The Angels hired Billy Eppler to lead their front office after the 2015 season; they improved to 14th in the rankings in 2018 and 13th this spring.Outfielder Jo Adell, L.A.’s first-round pick in 2017, has quickly become one of the game’s elite prospects, while starter Griffin Canning, a second-round pick in 2017, gives the Angels a second top-100 prospect. And help from the farm is not too far away: Eight of the top 10 Angels prospects are expected to open in Double-A or higher this spring. Moreover, if the Angels’ top prospect from a year ago, Shohei Ohtani, can become a consistent impact performer as a pitcher and hitter, L.A. could have two star caliber players in one roster spot.The Angels’ biggest long-term issue is that they are in the same division as the Houston Astros, who are on the cutting edge of evaluation and player development. The Astros took home the 2017 World Series trophy, won 103 games a year ago project to win 99 games again this season according to the FiveThirtyEight model, all while maintaining a farm system that has ranked fifth or better in three of the past four years. Baseball America ranks the Astros’ farm system No. 5 in the game entering 2019.It will be no easy task to supplant the Astros as kings of the AL West. And if Trout and the Angels can’t do that, it will be more difficult for Trout to raise his own profile, which lags well behind what his talent would suggest. Only one baseball player made ESPN’s list of the 100 most famous athletes in the world, and it wasn’t Trout — it was Bryce Harper at No. 99. This contract extension makes Trout very rich, but it also forces him to forfeit the chance to join a more likely World Series contender — and he’ll miss out on the spotlight that would have shown on him during his own free agency after the 2020 season.So now the pressure is even greater for the Angels to surround Trout with better talent and build a winner around him. By the end of this contract, he’ll have spent two full decades with the franchise. It would be a true shame if Trout’s next 12 seasons contain as little team success as his first eight did. read more

28 Sep

Louisville Favored in Final Four but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion

This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout.,This year’s N.C.A.A. tournament has not featured all that many great games — with some exceptions, like Michigan’s come-from-behind win against Kansas on Friday. The flip side is that the four teams that remain have all played exceptionally well, often dominating their opponents.Louisville won its first four games by an average of 22 points — the same margin by which it beat Duke on Sunday. Syracuse has won by 20 points, on average. Michigan’s margin of victory has averaged 16 points, despite the close call against Kansas. Even Wichita State, which has a chance to become the most poorly seeded team ever to win the tournament (and probably the least likely, statistically), has won its games by an average of 11 points.What follows is an overview of the four teams that remain — how their odds have evolved through the tournament and what their chances look like now.LOUISVILLE CARDINALSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 52.9 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 22.7 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 32.4 percentChance of winning tournament now: 55.0 percentLouisville began the tournament as the nominal front-runner, with a 22.7 percent chance of winning the title according to the FiveThirtyEight model. Its odds increased sharply after its first two games and have continued to rise after wins against Oregon and Duke, and now stand at 55 percent.This is despite the gruesome injury suffered by the sophomore guard Kevin Ware on Sunday, which will affect Louisville’s depth. Ware had averaged just 17 minutes per game for the Cardinals, but he was productive when he played, shooting efficiently and averaging more than one steal per game despite the limited playing time. The FiveThirtyEight formula, which adjusts for player injuries, estimates that Louisville’s chances of winning the tournament would be closer to 57 percent (rather than 55 percent) if Ware were healthy. The intangible impact of the injury is obviously harder to gauge — especially after the Cardinals’ emotional second-half surge against Duke on Sunday.But there is little reason to doubt that Louisville is the favorite. Wichita State, its opponent in the national semifinal, is dangerous enough — but a favorable opponent for the Cardinals compared with Ohio State or Gonzaga. (The FiveThirtyEight model gives Louisville an 85 percent probability of beating Wichita State, which would translate to its being a 10 1/2-point favorite in the Las Vegas point spread.) Another bonus is that Louisville is the closest of the four remaining teams to Atlanta, the site of the Final Four games, and has had little travel throughout the tournament, which should help to ensure that it is well-rested physically under emotionally trying circumstances.MICHIGAN WOLVERINESProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 12.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.4 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 3.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 21.2 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model viewed Michigan as underrated – but it thought that was even more true of Florida, and so had the Gators favored to win the South region. Instead, Michigan blew Florida out on Sunday.Still, Michigan provides some evidence for the hypothesis that the way a team finishes its regular season is not all that important — especially when one fails to account for changes to its strength of schedule. Michigan did not play an especially tough out-of-conference schedule this season, helping it go 13-0 in nonconference play. But the Big Ten was brutally competitive, and most of Michigan’s toughest games were stacked in the second half of its schedule. It’s not clear that Michigan played any worse down the stretch as much as it faced some tougher opponents.Michigan will present a clash of styles against Syracuse, and potentially Louisville. The Wolverines rate as having the best offense in college basketball, according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, whereas the Orange and the Cardinals have dominated defensively. Michigan enters the semifinal as essentially even-money against Syracuse (the FiveThirtyEight model gives Michigan a 51.9 percent chance of winning). But the score isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be close: the Wolverines’ reliance on the 3-point shot could yield a blowout or an embarrassment depending on their accuracy from behind the arc.SYRACUSE ORANGEProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 11.7 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 2.0 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 4.8 percent.Chance of winning tournament now: 19.0 percentWe’ve found that in contrast to how a team plays in the late stages of the regular season, how well it adapts to tournament conditions does have some predictive power. Hence, the FiveThirtyEight model increased Syracuse’s chances considerably after its record-setting opening-round win against Montana, and after its subsequent solid play against California, Indiana and Marquette.The catch is that the other teams in the Final Four have also played so well that it isn’t clear that you would pick Syracuse even if you were determined to choose the hot hand.WICHITA STATE SHOCKERSProbability of reaching Final Four before tournament began: 1.3 percentChance of winning tournament before tournament began: 0.08 percentChance of winning tournament before Round of 16: 1.2 percentChance of winning tournament now: 4.7 percentThe FiveThirtyEight model gave Wichita State only a 1.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four before the tournament began, or about 75-to-1 odds against. Does that imply that the Shockers’ having reached the Final Four represents a once-every-75-year event –about as rare as Halley’s comet?Actually, the math is a little bit more complicated than that. There are four regions, and in each one, there are a number of long-shot teams, so there are a lot of opportunities every year for someone to defy the odds. Instead, our pretournament model suggested that there was about a 16 percent chance (roughly 1-in-6) that Wichita State or any of the other 37 teams with under a 2 percent chance of reaching the Final Four would do so.Some of the historical cases of teams that defied even longer odds are well-known. Pennsylvania, in 1979, overcame what we estimate were 500-to-1 odds against reaching the Final Four — while Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 was about an 800-to-1 underdog.However, Wichita State’s accomplishment holds up well against some other Cinderella teams, including Louisiana State in 1986 and George Mason in 2006, both of which made the Final Four as No. 11 seeds. Wichita State was a No. 9 seed, and a reasonably good one. The problem is that being a No. 9 seed is probably more difficult than being a No. 11. A No. 9 seed will almost certainly have to defeat a No. 1 seed in its second game (as Wichita State did against Gonzaga) – eliminating the chance of getting lucky because the favorite gets knocked out early. In addition, Wichita State beat a very tough No. 8 seed, Pittsburgh, and a very tough No. 2, Ohio State — and the Shockers have made some of these wins look easy.The issue, as is the case for Syracuse, is that the accomplishments for the other three Final Four teams have been just as impressive — and they began with considerably better regular-season résumés than Wichita State. So the FiveThirtyEight model gives the Shockers only about a 5 percent chance of winning out.But what if they do it? The initial model gave Wichita State only about a 0.08 percent chance of winning the tournament, or about 1,200-to-1 odds against. If the Shockers win the tournament, they would probably qualify as the least-likely champions in history — displacing the 1985 Villanova Wildcats, who won as a No. 8 seed and faced a somewhat more favorable draw.A version of this article appears in print on 04/02/2013, on page B9 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Four Dominant Teams, With One Standout. read more

28 Sep

What Betting Markets Think LeBron James Will Do

The big question right now is whether LeBron James will stay with the Miami Heat or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite the fact that his departure from the latter in 2010 seemed to have burned a few bridges, some fans appear to have forgiven James and are hoping for his return.How likely is James to return to Ohio? That’s a difficult question, but we can try to get a rough sense from betting markets. The Cavs and the Heat aren’t the only contenders. Here’s an average of the latest betting lines on where James will play next season, converted into probabilities:Oddsmakers seem to think James is about a 50-50 bet to stay with the Heat. Cleveland has some hope, and the remaining teams not much. But if history is any indicator, both Miami and Cleveland might have reason to worry.James had to make a similar decision in 2010, and betting markets didn’t get that one right.Bettors thought James would stay put in 2010 as well. But the difference in spread is notable. Based on these numbers, bettors are 11 percent more confident in his loyalty than they were in 2010. The second most likely options in both scenarios make up for this difference, with the Chicago Bulls at a 24 percent chance in 2010 and the Cavs at a 16 percent chance currently.Just like these betting sites, we’ve had mixed success in predicting James’s moves. Until his announcement, it’s worth considering that maybe we don’t know the MVP quite as well as we think we do. read more

28 Sep

Football How much will special teams impact the Fiesta Bowl for Ohio

Penn State freshman punter Blake Gillikin (93) and OSU redshirt sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) rush towards the ball after a blocked punt in the second half of the Buckeyes game on Oct. 22. The Buckeyes lost 24-21. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For weeks, much of the talk for the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl has been about the offensive and defensive capabilities of both No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Clemson. However, there has been little discussed in terms of special teams, the unit that the Buckeyes take extremely seriously. Kerry Coombs, the secondary and special teams coach for the Buckeyes, has a knack for coaching some of the best special teamers in the nation year after year. According to him, the effort of his gunners and kick coverage unit could make the difference in a game as evenly matched as OSU versus Clemson.“I think they’re very, very good just like I think we’re very, very good,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a couple of areas in the game … I know that their national championship game last year hinged on some big special teams plays. I think that our kids are extremely well prepared, and I know that there’s are too. So, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it will be a factor in the game.”One of the biggest weapons on Coombs’ special teams unit is senior punter Cameron Johnston. Johnston, a native of Melbourne, Australia, who has been punting for the Buckeyes for four years now, and is in his fifth year with the team.Averaging a career-best 46.2 yards per punt in 2016, the Australian born punter has a few goals in mind against Clemson. The most prominent of those goals is limiting the returning ability of the Tigers’ returners.“You never know how many times you’re going to punt, but when you do, you got to make sure it’s in the right area,” Johnston said. “If you get zero return yards for the day, you’ve had a good day.”While netting zero return yards on punts has a lot to do with how the ball is kicked and the trajectory it takes before striking the turf the proper way, having help from teammates is necessary to limiting return yardage. Wide receivers like redshirt sophomore Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin have been instrumental on kick coverage success, playing predominantly at the outside coverage positions.The players at those positions, known predominately as “gunners,” are known for their speed and athleticism, as well as the ability to hunt down the ball and bring down the returner quickly, or forcing him towards the middle of the field. For McLaurin, the chance to cut his teeth as a special teamer has resulted in his development as a well-rounded player.“You kind of get your feet wet playing special teams,” he said. “Once you start making plays on special teams, you’re going to be making plays on offense. You see it all the time with guys coming through this program. That’s what we preach about competitive excellence.”Although the Buckeyes have yet to score on a punt return this year, it is worth noting OSU has not given up a touchdown on a punt either this season. Part of that statistic has to do with McLaurin’s ability, while another part comes down to how well Johnston has played.With a punter like Johnston who is a master at hang-time on punts, as well as a speedy player on the outside to get to the returner quickly, OSU might very well dictate the game. Pinning an offense deep in its own territory is something that Coombs feels could be the difference maker come Saturday.“All the difference,” he said. “And not just big (plays), but just the innate field position difference. If we can gain yards with special forces throughout the game, which is our objective, it doesn’t show up as a big play. But it makes a dent in the scoreboard.”OSU squares off against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the University of Phoenix Stadium. read more

28 Sep

Quick hits Midweek news notes for Ohio State football

DeVier Posey and Dan Herron Receiver DeVier Posey and running back Dan Herron, both seniors, were expected to return from five-game suspensions this week. However, both players’ suspensions will be extended at least one more game because of additional violations, as announced by OSU athletic director Gene Smith on Monday. First-year head coach Luke Fickell said that neither player is in danger of being dismissed from the team as of yet. “This is still something that’s undergoing and I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have all of the information that they are going through probably just as of yet. Not that I’ve seen anything that we wouldn’t want a guy around right now.” Reinforcements arrive for the offensive line Unlike Posey and Herron, left tackle Mike Adams is back for OSU. Beyond that, Adams is listed as a starter for Buckeyes’ offensive line on Saturday against Nebraska. Adams’ arrival will be a welcome sight for his linemates, which allowed nine sacks against Michigan State last Saturday. Injury Updates Redshirt freshman receiver Verlon Reed, tied for second on the Buckeyes in receptions, has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, Fickell said. The banged-up receiving corps should be aided by the return of sophomore Corey “Philly” Brown this week, after he missed the last three games with a lower leg injury. “We’ll see how he runs around out there (Tuesday),” Fickell said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right.” Fickell said he is doubtful senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams will play this Saturday. Senior defensive end Solomon Thomas, who is returning from his five-game suspension this week, is not listed on the two-deep depth chart. However, Fickell said he expects Thomas to see playing time on Saturday, but did note that he is coming back from a broken leg in the Spring Game. Captaincy carousel slowing down Familiar faces are emerging among OSU’s weekly picks for game captains. Senior center Mike Brewster will make his third appearance as a Buckeyes’ game captain on Saturday against Nebraska. Linebacker Andrew Sweat and defensive back Tyler Moeller are each making their second stint as captains. Long leash for Braxton Miller Fickell said freshman quarterback Braxton Miller will not have a “short hook” if he struggles against the No. 14-ranked Nebraska on Saturday. “We don’t want a guy going in thinking that by any means,” Fickell said. “Braxton is the guy that right now is our starting quarterback, and you know, I would think hook-wise, we don’t want him to ever think that.” Miller was pulled from last Saturday’s game against Michigan State at the end of the third quarter and replaced by redshirt senior Joe Bauserman. Kickoff for the Buckeyes’ game at Nebraska is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on ABC. read more

28 Sep

Aaron Craft leads Ohio State to 7669 upset against No 17 Iowa

Junior center Amir Williams (23) dunks the ball during a game against Iowa Feb. 4 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. OSU won, 76-69.Courtesty of The Daily Iowan/Alyssa HitchcockWhen a team is on the road in a hostile environment, college basketball coaches typically look to their seniors to lead the way.That was the case Tuesday night in Iowa City, Iowa, as Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft did a little bit of everything to help lead his team to its second straight road win, defeating No. 17 Iowa, 76-69.Craft finished with a game-high 17 points, recorded six steals, dished out six assists and delivered a crucial driving layup with 1:21 remaining while getting fouled. His free throw put the Buckeyes (18-5, 5-5) up, 66-59, but Iowa would not go away.The Hawkeyes (17-6, 6-4) cut the lead to four after a free throw by senior forward Zach McCabe with 54 seconds left, but they never got that close again.The battery of junior guard Shannon Scott, junior forwards LaQuinton Ross and Sam Thompson and senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. combined to make 10 of 12 free throws after the lead was cut to four to help seal the win for the Buckeyes, who won their second straight game against a top 20 opponent — following up a 59-58 victory at then-No. 14 Wisconsin in Madison, Wis.The Buckeyes shot 25-49 from the field in the game, including 7-16 from beyond the arc. Their perimeter defense proved to be the difference, as Iowa shot just 3-20 from deep.After trailing, 33-31, at halftime, OSU took the lead for good after Smith Jr. buried a three from the wing with 18:39 remaining. Smith Jr. finished with 12 points, one of five OSU guys to score in double figures including Craft, Ross with 13, junior center Amir Williams with 12 and Scott with 11.Sophomore guard Mike Gesell led the Hawkeyes with 16 points, and junior center Gabriel Olaseni added 14 off the bench.After the two straight road wins, OSU is set to come home Saturday and take on Purdue (13-9, 3-6). The Buckeyes last beat the Boilermakers, 78-69, Dec. 31 in West Lafayette, Ind. Tipoff for Saturday is set for 6 p.m. read more

28 Sep

Wrestling Full results for all nine Ohio State wrestlers from the NCAA

OSU junior heavyweight Kyle Snyder lifts Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery before slamming him to the mat for a takedown in the heavyweight finals of the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. OSU placed second, behind Penn State. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsST. LOUIS — Ohio State finished second at the 2017 Division I NCAA Wrestling Championships and sent a total of nine wrestlers to the event. Five of those went on to be named All-Americans, four placed in the top three of their weight classes, and one won a national championship.125 poundsOSU’s redshirt freshman Jose Rodriguez went into the tournament unseeded and lost 13-4 in the first round of the championship bracket to American University’s No. 11 Josh Terao. Rodriguez was able to get a single victory over Ohio’s Christian Moody, but was later pinned by Nebraska’s No. 5 Tim Lambert.133 poundsRedshirt junior Nathan Tomasello entered the tournament with a perfect regular season record and a Big Ten championship. He beat Illinois’ No. 8 Zane Richards by a score of just 3-1 in the quarterfinals after getting major decision victories over his first two opponents.In the semifinals, it was a Big Ten championship rematch with Iowa’s No. 4 Cory Clark. Tomasello beat Clark at Big Tens 5-4 on a last-second escape, but Clark fought to a different outcome at the NCAA tournament with a 7-4 decision.In the consolation bracket, Tomasello took down Nebraska’s No. 7 Eric Montoya and Michigan’s No. 5 Stevan Micic in the finals to finish in third place for the second consecutive year.141 poundsOSU freshman Luke Pletcher entered the tournament as a No. 12 seed and defeated Michigan’s Sal Profaci 8-5 in the first round, but lost to All-American Anthony Ashnault from Rutgers.In the consolation bracket, Pletcher was able to pick up another win over Iowa’s Christopher Carton, but Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon upset him in his second consolation match.149 poundsRedshirt sophomore Micah Jordan came into the tournament as a No. 4 seed and, as a recent Big Ten runner-up, looked dominant early.Jordan put together a technical fall over North Carolina’s Troy Heilmann, and then defeated Maryland’s No. 13 Alfred Bannister with a 10-2 major decision.In the quarterfinals, Jordan faced off against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen. Jordan lost to Sorensen in their regular season matchup, but notched a win at the Big Ten championships.Jordan lost, this time 3-0. In the consolation bracket, Jordan beat Lehigh’s No. 10 Laike Gardner 9-6, getting a technical fall over South Dakota State’s Alex Kocer and a major decision over Northern Illinois’ Max Thomsen.In the consolation finals, Jordan faced Sorensen yet again, and was held scoreless for the second time, losing 4-0. 165 poundsOSU redshirt sophomore Cody Burcher entered the tournament as an at-large qualifier and unseeded, and seemed outmatched by the competition. Burcher was held scoreless by Arizona State’s No. 7 Anthony Valencia in the first round, losing 11-0.In the consolation bracket, Burcher fared a little better, but still lost his first matchup 2-1 to Ohio University’s Yoanse Mejias.174 poundsRedshirt junior Bo Jordan came into the tournament as a Big Ten champion for the first time, and carried a No. 3 seed along with only one loss on the season.Jordan earned a 10-1 major decision over Harvard’s Josef Johnson in the first round and a 10-4 decision over Iowa State’s No. 14 Lelund Weatherspoon in the second.In the quarterfinals, he continued marching along, beating Iowa’s No. 11 Alex Meyer with a 4-3 decision. In the semifinals, Jordan faced off against Cornell’s Brian Realbuto, who handed Jordan his only loss of the season.Jordan fought from behind for most of the match, but employed an acrobatic takedown in the last 20 seconds that also saw him pick up near-fall points to secure a 11-7 victory.In a Big Ten championship rematch, Jordan and Penn State’s Mark Hall faced off for the national title at 174. Jordan won the Big Ten bout, but Hall was able to win, 5-2.184 poundsHopes were high for No. 6 seed Myles Martin at the 2017 NCAA tournament, after winning a national championship as a true freshman in 2016, becoming the first Buckeye to ever do so.Looking impressive in his first matchup, he was two points away from a technical fall over Bucknell’s Garrett Hoffman.Martin’s run was spoiled by Illinois’ No. 11 Emery Parker in the second round, losing 14-9.In the consolation bracket, Martin took down Penn’s Joe Heyob with a tech-fall before a 12-3 major decision of Edinboro’s No. 14 Dakota Geer.Next, Martin faced a fellow All-American in Northern Illinois’ Drew Foster, and was able to come out victorious after surviving a sudden victory period.Martin’s charge was stopped short by Iowa’s No. 3 Sammy Brooks. At the NCAA tournament, Brooks defeated Martin with a 6-2 decision to send Martin to the fifth-place match.There, Martin impressed once again, getting some much-needed team points over Oklahoma State’s No. 4 Nolan Boyd and winning with a 10-6 decision.197 poundsRedshirt freshman No. 3 Kollin Moore, who recently won a Big Ten championship in his first year of competition, barrelled through the first two rounds of the tournament with a 16-6 major decision over North Carolina State’s Malik McDonald and a 16-4 major decision over Oregon State’s No. 14 Corey Griego.In the quarterfinals, Moore faced a tougher challenge in Oklahoma State’s No. 6 Preston Weigel, but picked up a 13-5 major decision.In the semifinals, a rematch with Minnesota’s No. 2 Brett Pfarr, the Gophers avenged his loss at the Big Tens with a 13-9 decision over Moore.In the consolation bracket, Moore pinned Virginia Tech’s No. 4 Jared Haught in the first period en route to a third-place finish as a freshman. He suffered only four losses on the season, all four against Pfarr and 197-pound champion J’Den Cox of Missouri. HeavyweightNo. 1 seed and junior Kyle Snyder entered the tournament with sky-high expectations. A world and Olympic champion, he had an undefeated season for the Buckeyes.After getting through the first two rounds with technical falls, Snyder sustained a rib injury against Colorado’s No. 16 Garrett Ryan.In the third match, Snyder looked dominant for the first two periods, but his injury began to show in the third, during which he failed to record a point and was ridden out by Minnesota’s No. 8 Michael Kroells, but still won 13-7.That would be the last time the injury seemed to bother Snyder.In the semifinals, Snyder rolled over Duke’s No. 4 Jacob Kasper 19-6 and advanced to face Wisconsin’s No. 2 Connor Medbery in the NCAA Finals.Yet another Big Ten championships rematch, and this one went in favor of the Buckeyes. Snyder tallied two takedowns en route to a 6-3 win over Medbery and his second consecutive national championship at 285 pounds. read more

25 Sep

Half of skin cancer patients are failing to be referred urgently Nice

first_imgHealth watchdogs are calling for improvements in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancerCredit:Alamy “We want to improve the outcome for everyone diagnosed with skin cancer.”Skin cancer can be split into two groups: malignant melanoma, which can prove fatal, and non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas which are rarely fatal.Non-melanoma skin cancers are more common, with 72,000 cases diagnosed in the UK in 2013, although experts say the true number is significantly higher.The standards also urge GPs to carry out better monitoring of cases where low-risk basal cell carcinomas have been removed.Dr Rachael Robinson, a Nice skin cancer expert, said: “There are competent GPs who are trained to perform basal cell carcinoma skin surgery and may do this in GP surgeries or part of a community clinic.“However there is currently no agreed process in place to support good practice in this area and so this quality statement seeks to address this by recommending those GPs maintain training standards, record activity and perform audits.” The remainder are diagnosed in outpatient clinics, at emergency presentation, and inpatients who are already staying in hospital, with unexplained symptoms. In a number of cases, the data does not show where they are diagnosed.Skin cancer can be split into two groups: malignant melanoma, which can prove fatal, and non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinomas which are rarely fatal.Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of Nice, said: “Melanoma causes more deaths than all other skin cancers combined and we don’t have reliable data for the spread of non-melanoma skin cancers.“This quality standard tackles the key areas for improvement in skin cancer care, from promotion of the warning signs, to early diagnosis, to better treatment options. Health watchdogs have called for improvements in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer after new figures showed just half of skin cancers are being diagnosed after an urgent referral by GPs.The warning from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) comes as figures show cases of skin cancer have risen by almost 50 per cent in a decade. In England there were 12,246 new cases of malignant melanoma in 2013, with around 2,000 deaths a year. The rise of package holidays has contributed to a huge increase in skin cancer among middle-aged and older people, previous figures show.Earlier this year Cancer Research UK said the “sun, sea and sangria” generation were paying the cost of decades of cheap package holidays, and the desire for deep tans. This quality standard tackles the key areas for improvement in skin cancer care, from promotion of the warning signs, to early diagnosis, to better treatment options. We want to improve the outcome for everyone diagnosed with skin cancerDr Gillian Leng, Nicecenter_img Health watchdogs are calling for improvements in diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer Nice has published new standards, urging GPs to follow existing advice to refer patients with suspected malignant melanoma for an appointment within two weeks.The watchdog highlighted data from the National Cancer Intelligence Network, which shows that just 56 per cent of malignant melanomas were diagnosed in secondary care following a two-week referral for suspected cancer in 2013.The data shows that 29 per cent of cases are still being referred to secondary care via the standard GP referral in 2013, which in some trusts means waits of between four and six weeks. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

25 Sep

NHS care workers did not aid patient in crisis as staff about

first_imgHer daughter, Kim Vella, 57, told the inquest that at 4.10pm on the day of her mother’s death she received a telephone call from her in a “manic state”.She said she then called the older persons mental health care team, saying she was “extremely concerned”, and was put through to her mother’s carer, Emma Bulbrooke.She said: “She was of the opinion that they were due to go out of hours and that it was best for me to make my way to the house and do the best I could.”If I didn’t like what I saw I was to call 999 but I wasn’t told what to ask for. They were closing at 5 o’clock.”Mrs Vella said she then went to her parents’ house, where she found her mother in an “uncontrollable state”, accusing her and her father of “ganging up on her” and attempting to get her sectioned.She said she did receive a call while at the house from Ms Bulbrooke but this had been passed to her father.She said her mother attempted to hit her and, with her father, restrained her on the floor but she managed to escape when she went to get a phone to call 999.Mrs Vella said she had been “shocked” by the response from the care provided to her mother in the weeks and months leading up to her death as she felt her case was not “prioritised” despite her deterioration.Describing her mother before her illness, Mrs Vella said: “She was one of life’s beautiful people.”Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri told the inquest that toxicology tests carried out after Mrs Munns’ death showed no trace of the anti-psychotic drug risperidone which she had been prescribed suggesting that she had not taken it for up to five days previously.The inquest is expected to last for four days. A care worker from the controversial Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust told the daughter of a 74-year-old woman just hours before she fell to her death from a motorway bridge that they could not respond to a “crisis call” because the office was about to close for the day, an inquest has heard.Marion Munns, a retired nurse, had previously been admitted to the Western Community Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, for three months in 2014 for depression and had returned home after showing improvement – but her condition deteriorated again the following year.The grandmother died on November 12 2015 after she had become distressed and escaped from her Southampton home through an upstairs window before climbing off the garage roof and running away. Marion MunnsCredit:Family handout/PA Marion Munns Her body was found on the M27 motorway and the Winchester inquest heard that the mother-of-two died of severe multiple injuries.Her husband, John Munns, said in a statement that her condition deteriorated during 2015 and her behaviour became increasingly “erratic”, including an obsession with drinking water.He said she had become “sullen and lethargic” and added: “She was zombie-like with no personality. This wasn’t my Marion, she was deteriorating.” If I didn’t like what I saw I was to call 999 but I wasn’t told what to ask for. They were closing at 5 o’clockKim Vella, daughter of Marion Munns Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more