Wednesday Bullets

  • A respected Columbia professor disputes the findings that trailing at halftime makes a team more likely to win. Andrew Gelman's rebuttal is over my head, but seems to boil down to different ways to interpret the same data, and he includes this instant classic of a line: "they do some ridiculous overfitting with a 5th-degree polynomial. Don't even get me started on this sort of thing." Someone had to say it, and he said it.

  • Matt from Basketbawful talks about the shooting of Carl Landry: "By now, most of you already know what happened to Carl Landry, but here's a quick recap in case you don't: Landry's car was sideswiped and then struck by another car. When Carl got out to inspect the damage, two men confronted him and one of them shot at him. Twice. Fortunately, he was only grazed on the left calf -- 'tis but a flesh wound! -- and so he should only miss one to three weeks of action. Look, I get the whole road rage thing. As a Chicago driver, I can't tell you how many times I've fantasized about shooting (or hanging, or electrocuting, or dropping a giant anvil on) some dude or dudette that just cut me off, but that's where it ends: In fantasy." Here's an opportunity for me to roll out one of my pet "If I ran the world" theories. Imagine if every driver had a government issued paintball gun. You get a limited amount of ammo. Then, if someone really drives poorly around you, you shoot that car, which embarrasses that driver, while warning all the other cars on the road that this guy is a jerk. (Imagine being a teenager and coming home with paint all over the family minivan.) It would also be so satisfying to shoot something harmless at that car. Of course, there are all kinds of problems with this theory. But it's fun to imagine.

  • Stefan Fatsis writes in the Atlantic that Lance Stephenson, one of the most hyped high school players, may follow Brandon Jennings in bypassing the NCAA to make money playing professionally in Europe. Fatsis also quotes Sonny Vaccaro predicting that this year or next a high school junior will bypass his senior year to play professionally in Europe."If that seems like one more sign of the basketball apocalypse, consider that many of the Europeans who populate NBA rosters began playing professionally as young as 14. In any case, Vaccaro believes Europe should be a destination only for exceptionally talented and relatively mature players. And Jennings has cautioned that his Italian sojourn hasn't been one big scoop of gelato: 'I don't want anyone coming over here thinking it's easy,' he wrote on his Under Armour blog. Once the basketball machine gets rolling, though, it can be hard to stop. Jennings is expected to opt out of his contract with Lottomatica after this season and enter the NBA draft in June. If he's a high pick, adolescent interest in playing abroad may rise rapidly. On the court after practice, Stephenson's father, Lance Sr., said Kansas, Southern Cal, and St. John's were recruiting his son. But if he fails to become NCAA-eligible -- a legitimate concern, according to people around him -- his options will change. No one I talked to seemed confident that Stephenson was emotionally prepared for the professional grind on the Continent. But with the door open, nothing can stop him from dribbling through it, ready or not. 'I think he'd be a better pro right now than a college player,' his father said. 'Going overseas, it's not out of the question.'"

  • Jury duty for Kobe Bryant? Somehow that seems like it should never happen, but it makes perfect sense. I heard once that the best way to get out of jury duty is to tell the lawyers that you'd make a great juror, because you can tell who's guilty just by looking at them.

  • Wow. If you want to talk about the business end of the NBA, you have to check out these graphs of population movement in the U.S. I'm not sure what it all means, but I am sure I love cool intuitive graphics like that. (Via Kottke)

  • The Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman writes: "In a change of pace, the Heat did walk from its hotel to the nearby gym at Emerson College for Tuesday's practice. 'Last year guys were complaining that it was too quick of a bus ride, so they made us walk this time,' Wade said. 'And then we complained today that it was just too cold. We always complain, that's what we do.'"

  • And Raptor fans turn to the draft.

  • NBA players as Star Wars characters. Hard to argue with Sam Cassell as yoda, but Carlos Boozer as Princess Leia seems a bit of a stretch. You know how some all boys schools borrow girls from other schools for their plays? Maybe the NBA should consider recruiting in the WNBA for this project.

  • Lots of Rocket fans are upset that the team doesn't get the ball to Yao Ming more. But the Rockets' Jason Friedman writes that the team does get the ball to him a lot when it matters. He explains a new statistic that the Rockets track: "This season many Rockets fans have become familiar with the term 'high leverage moments.' In short, they are something the team tracks which places a microscope on key moments of the game when the chance of one team or the other winning can shift dramatically. Once again, wing players rule the day here as LeBron James (43.8%), Dwyane Wade (40.5%) and Kobe Bryant (36.3%) claim the top three positions due to the large percentage of crunch time touches they receive. No surprise there. But those who decry Yao's perceived lack of late game involvement may be caught off guard by what the numbers reveal about his usage. In terms of going to Yao late in clutch situations, the Rockets center ranks 22nd overall -- with 24.3% of his team's 'clutch' possessions in the fourth quarter and OT -- and first among centers. In fact, the only bigs ahead of him are Dirk Nowitzki (32.4%), Tim Duncan (29.1%), and Chris Bosh (25.4%). That's it. That's the list. Interesting to note that Orlando's Howard ranks seventh among post players at 21.3%, though one assumes much of that is the result of his still shaky free throw stroke."

  • What has Corey Brewer been up to since his season-ending injury? Rehab mostly. And taking calls from Al Horford, who wants to brag about his statistics.

  • A suggestion that the Players Association should have an anonymous ballot in which players are polled about the quality of various agents. I don't know if that would work, but it would certainly be a good conversation starter.

  • Jazz vs. Wizards was not pretty. Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune: "We should ha
    ve known how ugly Tuesday's game would be when the Jazz and Wizards combined for three turnovers in the first 13 seconds."

  • Many times I have seen people -- usually little kids, but sometimes adults -- fall asleep at NBA games. Only today do I stop to wonder how NBA players might take that. Comedian Mike Birbiglia performs a live show called Sleepwalk With Me, and writes: "Maybe it's that theater-goers are generally older or that my show attracts people with sleep disorders like narcolepsy. Or maybe they just ate a large bowl of pasta with sauce made of warm milk and Ambien. Or maybe it's time to give up this whole comedy thing altogether and investigate mortgage-backed securities. Everyone seems to be talking about those! But people actually fall asleep regularly during my show. And what's strange is: I can see them. It's not like I'm a movie screen. I'm a person with eyes and large ears and a hockey ass and I can see them falling asleep while I'm talking. And it's not that adorable way you fall asleep on the phone in 7th grade describing your crush on your English teacher Mrs. Patterson. It's like that awful way where you tell Mrs. Patterson you love her and she starts snoring and drooling. I think it's a little unfair, because I should be the one who gets to fall asleep, as the show is about my sleep-disorder. Some nights I'm on stage thinking, 'You know what I could go for? A nap.' And I look down and someone's already beat me to the punch. I'm like, 'That was MY idea, you hack!'"

  • Blogging basketball in Rwanda.

  • Jazz big man Kyrylo Fesenko can not drive a car. And for a time he was having trouble off the floor, just trying to dress like a professional, show up on time and eat well. To solve the first problem, he hired a couple to drive him places. And a short while later, they have taken care of all the other problems, too.

  • TrueHoop reader J.C. reacts to talk of NBA contraction:"I think there is a way (a far-fetched way, perhaps, but a way nonetheless) to accommodate the positive aspects of 'Dave from BlazersEdge's' proposal while keeping a team in all of the cities that currently have NBA teams. Furthermore, it would give teams to cities that currently don't have one but to varying degrees want them (like, most obviously, Seattle, but also St. Louis, Vancouver, Las Vegas, etc.). Adopt a structure like European soccer leagues use. The contracted NBA Dave proposes would become the first, or 'Premier' division. The teams that get left out, plus new teams in cities like Seattle, and maybe even some cities that currently have D-League (I don't know if any of them are supported enough), get put into a second division. And most of the D-League teams, and possibly new teams like them, get placed in a third division. The divisions have a promotion/relegation system, so teams like the Thunder (assuming they start in the second division) and the new Sonics have the chance to make it into the Premier division. There might be a rule, however, that certain third division teams operate like farm teams to Premier division teams, and can't be promoted (something like this is done in the German Bundesliga). I think that such a system would be great for pro ball in this country, but we are probably too xenophobic to ever take on a European system."

  • When the team manager gets to suit up.

  • UPDATE: Playing professionally in Britain, 33-year-old Texan Trey Moore has an active streak of 83 made free throws. If he did that in the NBA, he'd be third all-time and just 15 shy of a new record.