On Sunday afternoon, LeBron James offered another reminder of how silly it was to ever doubt his performance in the clutch.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz-3ItHYeiQAfter the game, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst tweeted that James has now made more go-ahead shots at the end of playoff games than Michael Jordan. (It’s not the only area in which James is Jordan’s statistical peer in the postseason.)Windhorst’s definition for what constitutes a game-winning shot is as good as any — it covers all potential go-ahead field-goal attempts with five or fewer seconds remaining in the fourth quarter (or overtime) of playoff games. At Basketball-Reference.com, I was able to find 10 such attempts for James: five makes and five misses.1I’m not sure what accounts for the discrepancy with Windhorst’s numbers (he has James as 6-for-10), but for the remainder of this post, I will use Basketball-Reference.com as my data source. How does that stack up to other playoff performers over the years?Unfortunately, Jordan’s playoff career predates BBR’s shot-by-shot database by three seasons, but the site does have a record of every such shot attempted since the 2001 playoffs. And in those go-ahead situations (after accounting for the leverage of the game in which each shot occurred), nobody has a better record relative to expectations2As measured by points generated per shot above what would be expected from the distance of the shot. than James — particularly not his longtime nemesis Kobe Bryant, who sits at the opposite end of the list.Relative to the league-wide average, James generated 4.8 more total points than expected on his go-ahead shots, which translates to about one entire playoff win beyond what an average shooter would have contributed from the same field-goal distances. And those numbers become magnified when you consider that James’s average go-ahead shot came in a playoff game with championship implications 34 percent greater than the typical postseason contest. After we weight by the leverage of his specific game-winning shot attempts, James generated the equivalent3At normal playoff conditions. of 8.5 more points than expected, or roughly two playoff wins above average, with his clutch end-of-game shooting alone.(By contrast, Bryant generated 3.2 fewer points than expected and did it in games that were about 64 percent more important than the average playoff game, compounding the damage of his 1-for-10 performance.)So there’s no doubting James’s history of knocking down big playoff shots. But what’s also interesting about the list above is that the trailing section contains slightly better players, on balance; the bottom 10 players have tallied 1,090 wins above replacement (WAR), versus 987 WAR for the top 10.Granted, there’s essentially no relationship between career WAR and leverage-weighted net expected points for the entire sample of players … but maybe that’s the point. Role players can be called upon to hit huge shots with championship implications just as readily as stars. While James (and Dirk Nowitzki, and Chris Paul, to name a few) are all-time greats, the fact that the likes of Rashard Lewis and Metta World Peace also rank so highly — and Bryant fares so poorly — might speak as much as anything else to the unpredictability of who steps up and changes the course of NBA history with a clutch shot or two.One thing’s for sure, though: James has shown that he’s better at knocking down such consequential buckets than any other player of his generation.
This part of the NBA calendar typically sees players changing addresses more often than team executives. So it’s an abrupt change of pace to see the Los Angeles Lakers name Magic Johnson their new president of basketball operations, thus pushing out general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss just two days before the trade deadline. The move has instant ramifications for how the Lakers will run their business, and may have even more drastic implications for the future of the franchise’s young players.It’s unclear exactly what sort of team president Johnson will make. But he’s laid out a few thoughts explaining his shortcomings, and how he may ultimately handle the job.Johnson, who once played for, coached and held ownership stake in the Lakers, acknowledged this month that he doesn’t have a firm grasp of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement or the salary cap. He added he’s been spending time getting up to speed. (Brushing up on tampering rules — which he violated last year— might be a good idea, too.)Johnson has also been clear in saying he’d like to recruit friend and fellow Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to join him in the front office. (There are reports circulating that Bryant’s player agent, Rob Pelinka, is the frontrunner to replace Mitch Kupchak as the team’s general manager.) He and the Lakers will need to walk a fine line if they make an untraditional hire like Pelinka, or someone else who’s never served in such a capacity. The struggling Knicks, currently led by ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson, have learned the hard way that things can get bumpy when a pair of people at the top of the organization take jobs they’ve never had to do before.Whoever helps him run the team, they’ll be working with a team that finally stepped outside center ring of the NBA’s media circus. It wasn’t that long ago that former head coach Byron Scott was telling reporters he didn’t believe 3-pointers win championships, and Buss was elbowing his way into doomed free agent meetings. Over the last two seasons, though, and especially this season under Walton, the Lakers have fashioned themselves into a modern NBA team.In 2014-15, the Lakers attempted just 18.9 threes per game, which ranked 25th in the league. Last season, the number of attempts per game climbed considerably to 24.6, but largely because of the disintegrating husk of Kobe Bryant, which flung 7.1 threes per night (making just 28.5 percent). This season, they’re attempting 26.4 threes per game (13th in the league) and making 35.4 percent (19th). And after having the league’s second-worst offense on a points per possession basis last season, this season L.A. is… well, still not great, but improving. They’ve successfully worked themselves up into being an average team.But while the team has been moving toward basic competence, there’s some worry that “average” may be this group’s ceiling. And that may explain the move to bring in Johnson. These are the Lakers after all, and the Lakers run on stars.L.A. is stocked with young prospects, but haven’t yet unearthed a drop-dead star. Former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell is a hugely fun player, but he hasn’t progressed as quickly as many hoped he would after a tumultuous rookie season. Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, has been even worse. Ingram is averaging 8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 27.7 minutes per game on 36.3 percent from the floor, 30.4 percent from three and 65.5 percent from the line. (That’s a 45.1 true shooting percentage, if you were wondering.) Ingram is still valued by the franchise enough that L.A. reportedly would not consider trading him for DeMarcus Cousins, but his play so far this season has been a very bad sign. For instance, an updated CARMELO projection using his stats from this season now predicts he will produce about $34 million over the next five seasons. Coming into the season, those same five years were expected to be equivalent to about $121.3 million in value.Of L.A.’s young prospects, Julius Randle, the third-year power forward taken seventh overall in 2014, has fared the best. Randle’s per-game numbers haven’t budged too much, but Walton has run the offense through Randle for long stretches. Walton was a known Draymond-whisperer during his time as an assistant in Golden State, and it’s not hard to see Green’s imprint when Randle is running the break, hitting runners for easy baskets. Randle’s percent of possessions that end with an assist has nearly doubled, going from 11 last season to 20.2 this season, and the added touches have made him more patient with his own offense as well — his true shooting has crept up to a respectable 53.8, after posting a dismal 48.2 in his first full season. That’s good progress, but likely not at the level Johnson is thinking when he says his goal is to “return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”In a lot of ways, the Los Angeles Lakers’ prolonged absence from the national spotlight has been a positive indicator. Troubled franchises tend to make headlines only when something is going cosmically wrong, like the Sacramento Kings trading their best player for a crate of oranges, or the President of the New York Knicks engaging in a Twitter war with a star player who won’t allow himself to be traded. The Lakers’ return to the circus comes at a time when tactical decisions for the franchise’s immediate future are looming, but the basic culture and basketball sensibilities being built around the team are just as important.Johnson used to be part of that culture, and used to define those sensibilities. But shaping a team as a rookie executive is a very different proposition than doing so as a Hall of Fame player. Johnson has a lot of things working in his favor in Los Angeles, but what he won’t have is a player as good as Magic Johnson suiting up every night. It’s up to him to set that right.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 2 min read This story originally appeared on PCMag Register Now » Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Do you have your contacts, photos and other data data stored in Apple’s iCloud? Your encrypted files may actually be residing in Google’s cloud.As CNBC reports, the latest version of Apple’s iOS Security Guide, released last month, indicates that the Cupertino tech giant is now using Google’s Cloud Platform, in addition to Amazon’s S3 service, to store iCloud data. In the past, Apple has used Amazon’s S3 and Microsoft Azure for iCloud storage. Now, it appears Apple has ditched Azure in favor of Google Cloud Platform.Don’t worry about Google and Amazon having access to your data, though. Everything stored in iCloud — including contacts, calendars, photos, documents and more — is encrypted.”Each file is broken into chunks and encrypted by iCloud using AES-128 and a key derived from each chunk’s contents that utilizes SHA-256,” Apple wrote in the document. “The keys and the file’s metadata are stored by Apple in the user’s iCloud account. The encrypted chunks of the file are stored, without any user-identifying information, using third-party storage services, such as S3 and Google Cloud Platform.”As CNBC notes, we first heard rumblings back in 2016 that Google had gained Apple as cloud customer, but this is the first time the iPhone maker has confirmed its use of Google Cloud Platform for iCloud storage. Apple isn’t Google’s only big-name cloud customer. Spotify, Snap and PayPal also rely on Google’s cloud services.Apple offers users 5GB of free iCloud storage; after that, it charges $0.99/month for 50GB, $2.99/month for 200GB, or $9.99/month for 2TB.Meanwhile, Apple is gearing up to start storing the cryptographic keys for Chinese users’ iCloud accounts in China instead of the U.S. for the first time, according to Reuters. That change will give Chinese authorities the ability to go through their country’s own legal system, as opposed to U.S. courts, to get information on Chinese iCloud users.”Human rights activists say they fear the authorities could use that power to track down dissidents, citing cases from more than a decade ago in which Yahoo Inc. handed over user data that led to arrests and prison sentences for two democracy advocates,” Reuters reports. February 28, 2018