MIT Sloan 2015: Best of Day 2

BOSTON -- The annual Sloan sports analytics conference wrapped up with the annual presentation of the Alpha Awards on Saturday.

This year's award for best research paper was shared between "Who is Responsible for a Called Strike" and "Counterpoints: Advanced Defense Metrics for NBA Basketball," the latter of which was detailed extensively on Grantland earlier this week.

Elsewhere, the award for best analytics organization went to the San Antonio Spurs, with Spurs general manager R.C. Buford also collecting a lifetime achievement award for his role in the team's sustained excellence.

Earlier in the day, it was two other NBA general managers, Houston's Daryl Morey and Golden State's Bob Myers, who bantered throughout a panel on sports negotiations that also included sports agent Arn Tellem.

Moderator Deepak Malhotra gave Morey and Myers each a minute near the end of the panel to stump for their respective MVP candidates, James Harden and Stephen Curry.

"Take James Harden off our team, and we're nowhere," Morey said.

"I like to bring up that deal whenever I can," he joked, drawing teases from Myers and Malhotra. But the insight into the Rockets' decision to open the war chests was illuminating.

“We basically told [Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander], ‘We should just give [Oklahoma City] everything. Like, literally, every possible thing that isn’t bolted down at the Rockets should be traded,’” Morey said.

Myers was less overt about campaigning for Curry but did point out the Warriors' 4-0 record against the Rockets this season.

When each general manager had finished, Tellem leapt out of his chair.

"Russ Westbrook is better than both of them!" Tellem shouted. "Who would you pay to see?"

Westbrook, of course, is represented by Tellem.

Overheard at Sloan

"We don't want to see data. We want to see representations of the actual phenomena going on in the world." -- Kirk Goldsberry, expounding on his work designing defensive shot charts.

"Oh no, that was last year. They're good now." -- Goldsberry, invoking the Jazz as an example of terrible defense, only to correct himself and substitute in the Lakers.

"I don't really like human beings that much." -- Grantland's Jonah Keri, making a tongue-in-cheek case for robot umpires in baseball.