After the Bills got stuffed on the final play of their Monday Night Football matchup with the Tennessee Titans, it once again spotlighted what goes into making 4th down decisions. We discussed those, as well as similar quick in-game decisions that need to be made on a game-to-game basis, such as baseball managers controlling their bullpen and basketball teams choosing between shooting twos or threes when the score differential is less than 3.
We're an analytics podcast, so let's take a week to talk about what exactly analytics (currently) is. We go across the gauntlet across sports to talk through the context of how sports analytics developed into what it is currently, how it's applied, where it'll go, and how sports applications relate to those in other industries.
The NBA's late-2010s era of small ball dependency and decreasing minutes to traditional centers forced the tallest basketball players on the planet to adapt their game to the times. Now one full season into the 2020s, the NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic, was a Center for the first time Shaq one it in 1999-2000 (Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Garnett are listed as Power Forwards on basketball reference for their MVP seasons in the 2000s). Centers are becoming better passers, three point shooters, and more athletic.
We discuss two traditional centers in different points of their careers - Andre Drummond and DeAndre Ayton. Drummond is coming off of his post-rookie max only receiving a 1 year, $2.4M contract from the 76ers to back up Joel Embiid. Ayton, who broke out in 2021 as the Suns reached the NBA Finals, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-2022 season, awaiting the max contract he is trending towards receiving. We use their careers to explain how context is critical to understanding he value of a center to a team in the modern NBA.
Then all of this talk about centers who aren't three point shooters smoothly transitions into a nice conversation about roster building around Ben Simmons amidst the trade talks surrounding the 25 year old headed into the second year of his 5-year max contract.
Many people regard the Triple-Double the most complete stat line in an NBA game. Russell Westbrook has AVERAGED a Triple-Double FOUR TIMES in the last five seasons. Putting together that long of a stretch of complete games never being done before may suggest it as being the greatest stretch of basketball the NBA has ever seen, and with one more step of logic, it could make him the greatest player of all time to be able to perform in such an unprecedented manner.
Well, not so fast (Stay with us here).
Today we go through Westbrook's Triple-Double stats piece by piece, from points to assists to rebounds, and then speculate what it could look like when Westbrook joins the Lakers in the fall.