My Thoughts on the 2019 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Injury Panels

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics 2019 injury panel

As I have done every year since 2013, I made my way to Boston in late February/early March for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.  Over time, given my background, I’ve increasingly paid attention to the health/injury panels at the conference.  While I am interested in all aspects of sports analytics, including player performance, drafting, and the like, I have found myself dabbling in the injury side of things as, to this point, it matches my knowledge and training.

The major injury panel this year was called “The Performance/Precaution Tradeoff: Player Health”.  I was intrigued by the name of the panel as it was suggestive of some of the hot topics that dominate injury conversation today.  At what point should a player be rested to prevent him/her from entering a “danger zone” of increased risk of injury?  When is it better to play a back-up for an injured player? 70% health?  60% health?  And how does some of the new data being collected infringe upon privacy rights?

These were just some of the things that popped in my head.  Did the panel play out the way I expected or did it bring up other topics I hadn’t considered?

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What Finishing Can Tell Us About Gordon Hayward

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

Gordon Hayward. (Erik Drost).  No changes were made to this image.

A little over a year ago, Gordon Hayward got injured.  Badly.  He returned this year.  He has struggled.  The Boston Celtics have struggled.  People are wondering why.

Hayward was recently shifted to the bench, where he put up an 0-fer on New Year’s Eve.  He followed that up with a 35-point explosion two days later.  What’s going on here?

Cleaning The Glass recently had an interesting discussion encompassing Hayward’s struggles and usage.  The discussion inevitably turned to Hayward’s devastating injury, a fractured left tibia and ankle dislocation that involved on-court reduction and surgery to repair both the fracture and ligaments.  In case you need a reminder on how gruesome the injury was, see below:

 

In the aforementioned discussion, CTG founder Ben Falk states the following:

“…a big drop in finishing is one of the easier ways we can see, statistically, the result of injuries.  HIs rate of drawing shooting fouls is also on pace to be a career-low…With reduced explosiveness around the rim, he isn’t able to draw contact or finish at the same rates….he’s definitely less explosive on film…of his six dunks this year, only one has been off that previously injured left foot…In Utah, he’d dunk off either foot or both feet.”

Since then, Hayward has boosted that total all the way up to…eleven.  Three of those dunks came in one game.  What is interesting is that two of those three dunks involved lifting off both feet (it’s hard to tell which foot he’s lifting off of in the third one).   You can almost envision Hayward aging a thousand years as he leaps to the hoop:

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What Alex Smith’s Broken Leg Means For His Future

By Dr. Ankur Verma

This past summer, after a multi-year soap opera with Kirk Cousins, the Washington Redskins let their franchise quarterback walk, unwilling to pay the cost it would take to keep him in DC.  Instead, they ended up paying a steep price for another quarterback to take his place, sending Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to bring Alex Smith to the nation’s capital, and subsequently locking him up with a four-year contract extension that pays out $70 million in guaranteed money.  Though Smith was coming off one of his most successful seasons, it was a heavy investment in terms of assets and dollars for a 34-year-old quarterback.

Then on November 18, Kareem Jackson and JJ Watt decided to have a meet-‘n-greet in Washington’s backfield and Redskins fans likely saw their season blow-up before their eyes.

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Heatstroke, Jordan McNair, and Maryland

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

Photo: Maryland GovPics

 

I was on the cusp of being a teenager in 2001 when news broke that Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer died of heatstroke during training camp.  At the time, the news rattled me; I had recently begun to take sports seriously and the realization that a prominent NFL player wasn’t immortal caused a change in my worldview.

You have probably heard by now the tragic news that befell the late Jordan McNair of the Maryland football program.  ESPN reported on the circumstances of McNair’s death and there is expected to be a report released by Dr. Rod Walters on September 15.  ESPN has also reported on the allegedly toxic football culture under Maryland head coach DJ Durkin.

Because there’s still a detailed report to be released on the circumstances surrounding McNair’s death, rather than speculate on how it happened, we’ll instead focus this post on heatstroke.  We’ll discuss what heatstroke exactly is and what should be done when presented with it.

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What The Warriors Can Expect from DeMarcus Cousins

By Dr. Ankur Verma

DeMarcus Cousins. (Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA).

LeBron going to the Lakers wasn’t that big of a surprise once he opted out of his Cavaliers contract, since doing that narrowed his possibilities considerably.  A much bigger surprise transpired not much later: DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors.

In a cool market that was projected to be even more tepid for centers, Cousins reportedly was left with no offers Monday morning and had his agent call around the league.  With few teams with cap space (and those that had more than the non-taxpayer midlevel to offer not interested), Cousins took a one-year, $5.3-million deal that seems paltry.

Cousins famously saw his 2017-2018 season end January 26 due to an Achilles tendon rupture.  Therefore, there are some questions as to when he can come back and, if he does, whether he can be effective.

Still, is this a case of the rich getting richer as it appears on the surface?

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Why Michael Porter Jr. Fell in the Draft

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

Michael Porter Jr. (TonyTheTiger).

In the hours leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, that sound you heard was the rush of NBA writers everywhere updating their mock drafts.  According to various sources, a recent medical report caused enough concern among teams that Porter—once a candidate for the top overall pick and, more recently, a candidate to go #2 to the Kings or #4 to Memphis—was now projected to drop out of the top half of the lottery.  Some draftniks even had him out of the top 10.

The heresy proved to be more than correct: Porter fell all the way to pick #14, where the Denver Nuggets scooped him up.

We previously wrote about Porter’s back injury and how it may impact his pro career, but teams were well aware of this issue heading into draft season.  Porter had missed nearly the whole college season, after all.

So why did Porter suffer a nearly Aaron Rodgers-like fall?

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Complete NBA Draft Injury Series

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

(Source: bikeride from Canton, CT, USA/Flickr).

In the lead up to the 2018 NBA Draft, we have taken a look at various prospects that have injury question marks on their resumes.  Using the information available—as well as our medical knowledge, statistics, historical precedence, and the players’ actual basketball skills—we have tried to project the draft stocks of these players, and in some instances indicated at what range an NBA front office should feel comfortable drafting them.

The prospects have ranged from prominent lottery picks to dark-horse second rounders.

Click on the links below to view the prospect profile of your choice.

Michael Porter Jr.

Lonnie Walker, Rawle Alkins, and Jarred Vanderbilt

Bruce Brown

Justin Jackson

Kevin Hervey

NBA Draft: Quick Hits on Walker, Alkins, and Vanderbilt

By Dr. Ankur Verma

Over the last few weeks, we have chronicled a few NBA Draft prospects that have injury questions.  We have tried to determine if there is anything we can glean about their NBA futures from their injuries.

With the draft now rapidly approaching, I wanted to conclude our NBA Draft Injury Series by briefly hitting on three prospects with varying levels of ability that are expected to go in the draft Thursday night: fast-rising Miami guard Lonnie Walker, energetic Arizona guard Rawle Alkins, and former five-star Kentucky recruit Jarred Vanderbilt.

To read up on the prospects we have already reviewed, click the following links:

Michael Porter Jr.

Bruce Brown

Justin Jackson

Kevin Hervey

With time winding down, let’s go through them in quick succession:

Lonnie Walker. (TonyTheTiger).

Lonnie Walker IV, Miami, SG, Age 19, 6’5”, 196 lbs.

A once heralded recruit, Walker has been a fast-riser in the draft and is now getting buzz to go as high as the top-10.

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On Miguel Cabrera, Torn Biceps, and the Future

By Dr. Ankur Verma

 

Miguel Cabrera. (Keith Allison/Flickr).

In March 2014, Miguel Cabrera signed a professional sports record-setting eight year, $248 million extension with the Detroit Tigers.  Though there were whispers in a few corners about the potentially massive downside of this contract, the Tigers were still baseball royalty at the time and such concerns were somewhat brushed off given the team’s decade-long playoff contention.  However, those whispers grew to outright conversation as we witnessed the steep decline of one of Miggy’s contemporaries, Albert Pujols.

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Can Brooks Koepka Bounce Back from his Wrist Injury?

By Dr. Wyatt Kupperman

 

Shinnecock Hills, the site of the 2018 US Open. (Roger Rowlett/ShareAlike 2.5)

I am still celebrating the historic Washington Capitals Stanley Cup win.  I encourage everyone to watch some of the videos from the interwebs.  You will be highly entertained.  

But this week we shift gears towards another National Championship, the US Open, which is to be played out in the Hamptons at Shinnecock Hills.  The focus will be on Tiger since he commands significant coverage as it has been 10 years since that last US Open win defeating Rocco Mediate…..but this isn’t about Tiger.  

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