NBA Teams That Should Start Planning Full Rebuilds

Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte continues to sit in an unenviable situation. Avoiding the tax while re-upping Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker is out of the question without a serious salary trim. Keeping Walker alone will be a chore.

Assuming the Hornets finagle his return without dipping into the tax, their reward will be…a bloated salary sheet and no significant change. That’s not really a “Hooray!” moment.

The upshot: Charlotte doesn’t have a viable alternative. Letting Walker leave for nothing is a no-go. The Hornets have to re-sign him if they’re to save any face. From there, they’ll need to hope an All-Star becomes available—Blake Griffin, maybe?—for the assets they can offer or cross their fingers that whatever contract Walker signs remains a net-neutral asset until his trade restriction lifts ahead of next year’s deadline.

       

Detroit Pistons

Turning Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson into more cost-effective players were smart financial moves by the Pistons. Thon Maker and Svi Mykhailiuk will be under first-contract salaries next season, and re-signing the other two—specifically Bullock—would have made it harder for them to duck the luxury tax while adding any meaningful contributors.

Detroit now has a chance to keep Ish Smith, keep its draft pick, use the full non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception ($9.2 million) over the summer and perhaps make some trades. That’s not nothing when most signs point to the Pistons preferring to stay intact.

At the same time, Langston Galloway, Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer have one year left on their deals, and Andre Drummond has a player option for 2020-21. If Blake Griffin plays at an All-NBA level for the rest of the season, Detroit won’t have trouble moving him for assets and decongesting its books in advance of the following summer.

And unless the Pistons are certain they can swing a blockbuster trade for a co-headliner (Mike Conley?), abandoning the Eastern Conference’s middle-tier rat race for a clean slate isn’t nothing, either.

        

Miami Heat

Conventional rebuilds aren’t the Heat’s speed. It would be one thing if they enjoyed access to cap space and could overturn the roster in free agency. They can’t. That makes it less likely they embrace anything drastic before 2020-21, when Ryan Anderson, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside will be off the books and James Johnson (player option), Kelly Olynyk (player option) and Dion Waiters transition into expiring contracts.

Jettisoning Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson at the trade deadline only helped the Heat tread water. They’ll have a chance to duck the tax this season if Olynyk doesn’t hit his playing-time bonus, as Heat Hoops’ Albert Nahmad noted, and the money they save next year with Anderson’s partial guarantee ($15.6 million) will leave them a waive-and-stretch or smaller-time salary dump away from staying under it in 2019-20.

Except, in that scenario, Miami would mirror Charlotte, traveling great lengths to keep an underwhelming core together without the capacity to make any consequential alterations. Re-signing Rodney McGruder (restricted) could even prove too rich for their blood.

Dragic would help the cause if he declines his player option this summer, but that’s a pipe dream. He turns 33 in May and is coming off knee surgery. Nor does it help that the Heat are light on desirable assets. They don’t have the tantalizing equity to swing a blockbuster trade, and offloading bad money requires sweeteners they don’t have or shouldn’t be giving up.

Bottoming out this season or getting steamrolled in the playoffs could change the Heat’s calculus. They can use Anderson and Whiteside to take on 2020-21 money in exchange for draft compensation and wait out the rest of their crummy deals. But going that route would be tough to stomach without their 2021 first-rounder—particularly when they’ll have to start thinking about new deals for Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow by the time they’re ready to get after it again.

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Greece’s opposition leader promises lower taxes and ‘aggressive’ growth as election looms

Under its current agreement with creditors, Greece has to hit the 3.5 percent level of budget surplus until 2022 or else it does not receive concrete debt relief measures. Nonetheless, Mitsotakis said he would seek to renegotiate that threshold.

“Mr Tsipras has agreed to primary surpluses of 3.5 percent until 2022. I think this is a very, very strict, (a) very strict target. I’ve said from the beginning that I respect the agreements made by the current government, but I’ve also told my European partners that should we be able to deliver real reforms, we should be rewarded with smaller primary surpluses, at least in 2021 and 2022,” he said.

“This is not about confrontation. And at the end of the day whether we have a primary surplus let’s say in 2021 of 3 or 2.5 percent, it’s not going to make a big difference in terms of our overall debt sustainability. But symbolically it would be a reward for a country that is actually engaging in meaningful reforms,” Mitsotakis added.

Greece’s finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, said in December that overshooting fiscal targets was a way to boost credibility in the embattled economy, according to the Financial Times.

The Greek Treasury issued its first post-bailout bond last month, getting 2.5 billion euros ($2.87 billion) in a five-year bond auction. Tsakalotos said at the time that there has been “a major shift” from hedge funds to regular investors, indicating that investors are starting to find the Greek debt market more attractive.

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A psychologist explains how Trader Joe’s gets you to spend more money

Following is a transcript of the video:

Narrator: Okay, so imagine yourself at the grocery store. You’re hungry but you don’t really feel like cooking. I guess pasta’s pretty easy. Suddenly you’re faced with this. That’s so many choices. Do you go for the classic tomato basil? How ’bout creamy alfredo? But what exactly is the difference between these two or these three? Wait. Why is this so hard?

Trader Joe’s is the surfy, laid back grocery chain know for it’s cheap prices and floral print clad staff. Data science professionals have ranked it number one in customer preference for two years running. The brand has held off on going high tech. They keep it simple with no online store, no loyalty programs, and no sales. When you break it down to square footage, Trader Joe’s is actually selling more than double its competitors like Whole Foods. But how much money you spend at Trade Joe’s ultimately comes down to what you are choosing to buy. But what about Trader Joe’s makes it so easy to choose?

Barry Schwartz: I spent, I’ve spent the last 25 years studying how people make decisions.

Narrator: That’s Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, a professor, and a Trader Joe’s enthusiast himself.

Schwartz: I think Trader Joe’s is the best example of how the world should be constructed.

Narrator: Whoa, take it easy there Barry. Barry coined the term the paradox of choice and quite literally wrote the book on it and it basically describes how you would think that the more–

Schwartz: Choice we have, the better off we are. That turns out empirically not to be true. When you give people too many options, they get paralyzed instead of liberated.

Narrator: The store has always focused on a unique selection of products rather than a large amount of them. I wanted to find out if there was choice-limiting going on at Trader Joe’s. So I went to my local market to count some things. I counted 144 pasta sauces, 44 olive oils, and 172 cereals. That’s a lot of choices. So then I went to Trader Joe’s. And they had an approachable 14 pasta sauces to choose from. Same goes for olive oils, canned beans, and cereals. At Trader Joe’s, there’s simply less to choose from. So then I asked Barry if he thought Trader Joe’s perhaps had inklings of the paradox of choice in mind when designing their shopping experience.

Schwartz: I think it’s completely inadvertence.

Narrator: Well then what exactly would explain why Trader Joe’s practices a scaled down approach to shopping?

Schwartz: They probably did it as a way of controlling costs. Managing inventory, you know, simplifying the supply chain. And somebody thought that if you offered other kinds of value, people would be willing to forgo options. You can’t have everything but anything we’ve got is worth having and we make your life simpler.

Narrator: In fact, when you look at Trader Joe’s humble beginnings, the original Joe, Joe Coulombe, founded the business on quality over quantity. Trader Joe’s made $13.3 billion in 2017 a number that’s likely going up. The core of any business is the customer service which Trader Joe’s excels at. The employees, or crew members as they’re called, are all extremely attentive and helpful. In short, they’re there to make your life easier.

This ideology is embodied in their food as well specifically their frozen food. And Americans have always had a certain affection for a heat-and-serve mentality. Frozen dinners are easy, fast, and little mess. However, about half the time, the frozen section aisle remains pretty empty.

According to Phil Lempert, a supermarket analyst, this is due to the frosty barrier of the freezer section. Opening that icy cold door likely means you’ve already committed to purchasing something which doesn’t tend to lead to much product discovery. Compare that to Trader Joe’s open freezer bins and you can start to see the difference. There’s no glass door and the low level of freezers bring shoppers physically closer to the products. It allows the freedom to check out the packaging more leisurely and without the blast of cold air.

So tons of effort being put forward to get customers to the product, the products themselves have to be good, right? Trader Joe’s products are marketed as healthy and the products aren’t the same old things we usually see in grocery stores. No Lay’s, no Heinz and it’s mostly Trader Joe’s own private label. They buy straight from the supplier which ultimately cuts costs and leads to cheaper products on the shelves.

The products themselves are colorful, quirky, and have a consistent branding. To find out a little bit more about the effects of good branding, I called Denise Lee Yohn who is a brand building expert. And I wanted to know more about what goes into the packaging design.

Denise Lee Yohn: Okay, so it’s usually kind of hand-drawn or it’s not looking like it’s computer generated, right? There are usually caricatures and then there’s some descriptive copy. And all of that I think helps the person, the shopper, kind of see how this product fits into their need. There’s an element of discovery, like finding a new product you didn’t know existing.

Narrator: In an interview, the former head of packaging design at Trader Joe’s said that the hand-drawn aesthetic invokes feelings of the human touch and artisanal quality. It can be easy to opt for takeout when thinking about stepping into the grocery store after a long day. But the subtle combination of tactics employed by Trader Joe’s makes shopping a legitimately enjoyable experience. It gets you excited about something uniquely human, cooking and eating your food.

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New Zealand’s former leader denies authoring pro-China op-ed for Communist Party newspaper

“It is important for the foreign minister and prime minister and others to understand that I would never think of getting into a public situation like this at such an important time for New Zealand’s relationship,” Shipley said in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.

This controversy comes at a time of heightening tensions between New Zealand and China. Relations between the countries were strained after Chinese tech giant Huawei was temporarily banned from participating in the country’s rollout of 5G — the upcoming generation of mobile networking technology that’s set to drive a host of tech innovations.

Shipley came under criticism for the op-ed, including from New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who said the former prime minister a”selling out New Zealand interests,” according to the Herald.

The Guardian said Shipley turned down an interview request and has declined to comment further. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

The People’s Daily did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment sent to its general inquiries email address.

The Guardian said China experts suggested Shipley had made an error in speaking with the newspaper at all given the People’s Daily’s “habit” of fabricating stories.

Read more about Shipley’s comments in The Guardian’s report.

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Metrics 101: Ranking the NBA’s Best Clutch Scorers This Season

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    A three-pointer made during the first quarter of an NBA contest technically counts just as much as a game-winning basket drained from the identical spot at the final buzzer. Without the first, the second wouldn’t have changed the outcome. 

    Obviously, though, the stakes are a little different for the latter. Defenders are more focused, fully aware that a single lapse can turn a victory into a loss. The crowd watches with eager anticipation, pumping the arena full of nervous energy. Heartbeats might pound just a bit harder and faster. 

    Some scorers have been better than others at ignoring the pressure and thriving in these clutch situations throughout the 2018-19 season—defined here as the final three minutes of games separated by no more than five points. Allow us to reveal the best of the best by looking at which players have added more points than expected on their possessions. 

    Keep in mind that scoring is, quite literally, all that matters here.

    The league as a whole emerges from the All-Star break with 4,774 points on 4,758 estimated* clutch possessions, which comes out at 1.003 points per possession. By looking at each player’s individual mark, subtracting the league average from it and multiplying the difference by the number of possessions, we can calculate the number you’ll see listed next to each featured contributor, representing the additional points they’ve scored compared to what a league-average player might’ve done with those possessions. 

    Let’s take LeBron James as an example. 

    In his 46 clutch minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s scored 51 points on 33 field-goal attempts, 24 free-throw attempts and two turnovers—46 estimated possessions. That’s good for 1.109 points per possession, which is 0.106 higher than the league average. Multiply that by 46, and he’s scored 4.876 more points than a league-average player might’ve with his touches. 

    That’s a respectable mark, checking in at No. 41 throughout the NBA. It’s just not enough to earn featured placement. 

    *The possessions estimate is calculated as field-goal attempts plus 0.44 times free-throw attempts plus turnovers. 

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.379

    Clutch Possessions: 29

    Joe Harris wasn’t just clutch in the Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend, where he emerged from a star-studded field and scored a whopping 26 points in the final round to take down Stephen Curry and Buddy Hield. Making 15 of his 18 moneyballs definitely qualifies as clutch, and it was necessary to topple a red-hot version of Curry who went a staggering 37-of-50 during the competition. 

    But this is nothing new. 

    During the final three minutes of games separated by no more than five points, Harris has drilled all six of his free-throw attempts for the Brooklyn Nets. That’s impressive, but it’s less important than making 14 of his 25 field-goal attempts (56.0 percent). That’s even more impressive, but it’s still less important than going 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. 

    That trails only Victor Oladipo (10-of-14) and JJ Redick (10-of-17) for the top three-point percentage of all 48 players who have at least 10 clutch attempts from downtown this year. 

    The sharpshooting wing has scored only 19.5 points per 36 minutes in this particular clutch situation, but he’s done so in efficient fashion, allowing him to close the gap between himself and the many high-usage scorers who populate this countdown. A 72.4 true shooting percentage in those pressure-packed moments is nothing to sniff at. 

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.458

    Clutch Possessions: 24

    That picture of Reggie Bullock wearing a Los Angeles Lakers uniform is admittedly a bit misleading. 

    Since the deadline deal that sent him to Tinseltown, the shooting guard has suited up in only one clutch situation alongside LeBron James and Co. He appeared down the stretch of a Feb. 12 loss to the Atlanta Hawks just before the All-Star break and failed to record anything more than a single steal off an errant Dewayne Dedmon pass while his troops were unable to close the gap. 

    Instead, his work with the Detroit Pistons earns him this spot. 

    Before he was jettisoned from the roster for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a 2021 second-round pick, Bullock made 22 clutch appearances for the Motor City representatives, helping them go 12-10 in those outings. Scoring 21.7 points per 36 minutes, he slashed a sturdy 55.0/50.0/100.0, and though it doesn’t affect his placement in these rankings, he dished out three assists to only a single turnover. 

    No shot was bigger than his five-foot catch-and-push off a baseline pass from Jose Calderon to sink the Toronto Raptors at the buzzer in a Nov. 14 victory over the Eastern Conference juggernaut. He missed two other deficit-erasing attempts in the final minute of various games against the Orlando Magic this year, but that bucket made up for the misfires. 

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.132

    Clutch Possessions: 91

    During the first half of the 2018-19 season, 14 players have matched James Harden‘s 10 game-tying or lead-taking attempts in the final minute of fourth quarters and overtime periods. Spencer Dinwiddie is the only contributor who has made more buckets in that situation (six), though his 6-of-14 performance for the Brooklyn Nets doesn’t match up against Harden’s 5-of-10 showing in two fewer games. 

    A deep three in overtime against the Golden State Warriors is his only true game-winner, though it registers as one of the shots of the season because of the marginal airspace at his disposal against the tight contests of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. But there’s so much more to clutch performances than knocking down buckets in the closing seconds.

    Harden’s importance to the Houston Rockets has been unquestionable throughout the year, and he’s taken over contests both operating as a solo star and when working in conjunction with Chris Paul and Clint Capela. 

    His 91 clutch possessions are easily the top mark in the league, outpacing Kemba Walker (78), Blake Griffin (75), Kyrie Irving (64) and everyone else. That he’s maintained that level of involvement while remaining so efficient is staggering, even if he hasn’t heated up enough to rise to the top of these rankings. 

    If you don’t want Harden’s 56.2 points per 36 minutes on 41.8/28.6/82.5 shooting, that’s your loss. After all, he’s gotten to the stripe so frequently—12 more times than anyone else in these clutch moments—that the unappealing first two numbers of that slash line still lead to a 63.2 true shooting percentage that sits well above the league-wide mark (56.1). 

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.218

    Clutch Possessions: 55

    During a Dec. 8 contest against the Houston Rockets, Luka Doncic took over down the stretch, willing his Dallas Mavericks to victory and giving James Harden a taste of his own medicine with a pair of step-back triples over Clint Capela.

    Fifteen days later, he hit a remarkable falling-away triple in the corner on an out-of-bounds play that began with 0.6 seconds remaining to force overtime against the Portland Trail Blazers. Less than a month after that, he put on another crunch-time scoring exhibition to key a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

    That’s just a small sampling, but it’s already gaining him some adoring attention. Take this quote from The Ringer’s Zach Kram, who penned the following while singing the praises of crunch-time Doncic in mid-January: 

    “Yet Luka has shot better in the clutch than at any other time. The varied tricks he’s used to score 20 points per game have granted him a special knack for toppling late-game defensive structures. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he can scoot both ways around a screen, and his stepback—or the threat thereof—allows him to absolutely feast when faced with a center after a switch.”

    This year, rookies have knocked down 13 go-ahead or game-tying buckets in the final minute of fourth quarters and overtime periods. Doncic alone has accounted for five of them, and his efforts go well beyond that crucial category. 

    During the larger clutch portion of games, he’s scored 42.3 points per 36 minutes while shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from downtown and 72.0 percent from the line. But we should still wait to sing his praises until he faces actual NBA competition, since questions remain about his athleticism and ability to create his own shots against top-tier defenders.

    Just consider this another resume boost for the prohibitive Rookie of the Year favorite. 

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.571

    Clutch Possessions: 21

    The Boston Celtics have outscored their opponents by 19 points with Al Horford on the floor in crunch-time situations, and it’s not just because of his scoring. That’s our sole focus here, but it’s worth noting the totality of his line in these crucial moments: 19.5 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 turnovers per 36 minutes. 

    He contributes on defense. He crashes the boards. He gets his teammates involved (also setting screens to free shooters, which doesn’t show up in the box-score analysis). And, most importantly for our purposes, he maximizes his touches as a scorer.

    Horford is knocking down 71.4 percent of his field-goal attempts, 57.1 percent of his triples and 81.8 percent of his freebies, adding up to an 87.6 true shooting percentage that ranks No. 1 among the 114 players with at least 10 shots during live action. That, in a nutshell, is efficiency as a scorer. 

    Only a lack of usage holds him back in this competition. The Celtics aren’t going to call many down-the-stretch plays for him when they have so many superior scoring options, though he does end up with some touches because his passing chops allow him to function as both a point-producer and facilitator. 

    As for one of those superior options?

    Well, he’s up next. 

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.667

    Clutch Possessions: 18

    Marcus Morris barely pushes past Al Horford despite using three fewer clutch scoring possessions and shooting with slightly less efficiency. Take a gander at how he and his teammate stack up against the league in true shooting percentage during the relevant situation (minimum 10 field-goal attempts): 

    1. Al Horford: 87.6
    2. Marcus Morris: 86.2
    3. Thomas Bryant: 84.2
    4. Victor Oladipo: 83.0
    5. Fred VanVleet: 82.7

    VanVleet and Bryant don’t have enough possessions (12 apiece) to boost themselves into our countdown, checking in at Nos. 15 and 26, respectively. You’ll have to keep reading to see where Oladipo winds up. But this pair of Celtics frontcourt figures top the efficiency leaderboard—the latter doing so while he slashes 69.2/75.0/90.0 and averages 22.0 points per 36 minutes. 

    So what pushes him ahead of his running mate? In a word: turnovers.

    Or, more accurately, “turnover.” 

    Horford has only coughed up the ball twice during his 61 crunch-time minutes, but that’s one more than Morris has on his ledger. His lone mistake came in a Nov. 16 victory over the Toronto Raptors when he drew a whistle for traveling with 1:17 left and Boston in a four-point hole.

    That slip-up would then be negated when the C’s came back and won in overtime (admittedly no thanks to his offensive game, as he failed to register another box-score stat in the fourth quarter or for the entirety of the extra period). 

    That mistake-free play gives him a razor-thin edge over Horford, though incorporating the non-scoring elements of their games would reverse this order. 

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.234

    Clutch Possessions: 64

    Yep, that’s right. Three consecutive members of the Boston Celtics. And that, of course, begs the question: How have the C’s as a whole fared in clutch situations? 

    Twenty-nine times this season, Boston has played in a game that was separated by no more than five points during the final three minutes. The team has gone 16-13 with an 18.9 net rating—the league’s No. 6 mark, behind the Denver Nuggets (19.0), Golden State Warriors (20.0), Los Angeles Clippers (24.5), Milwaukee Bucks (26.7) and Indiana Pacers (29.5).

    What gives? How can the Celtics be ranked sixth despite being the only team with two, much less three, members of the top 10 in these rankings? Well, take a gander at the offensive rating leaderboard in these pressure-packed moments: 

    1. Boston Celtics: 134.2
    2. Indiana Pacers: 123.1
    3. Milwaukee Bucks: 123.0
    4. Washington Wizards: 121.2
    5. Sacramento Kings: 120.3

    That’s what we call a runaway. It’s defense—the Celtics rank No. 24 in clutch defensive rating—that pushes down the overall mark, and defense has zero impact on this particular article. Marcus Morris, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving are still carrying the scoring unit to unfathomable heights. 

    Irving hasn’t been as efficient as the other two (65.6 true shooting percentage), but this ball-handling wizard is still averaging 48.2 points per 36 minutes and slashing 50.9/40.9/100.0. He’s also gone an impressive 5-of-8 on lead-altering shots in the final minute of fourth quarters or overtimes, and not a single one of the buckets came off an assist. 

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. Irving’s late-game heroics are nothing new. 

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.395

    Clutch Possessions: 38

    Breaking news: Giannis Antetokounmpo is pretty good at this whole basketball thing. 

    The aptly nicknamed Greek Freak can dominate during opening periods. He can thrive coming out of the locker room for the start of the third quarter. He can even excel during All-Star breaks. But he might be best of all during crunch-time situations, as he averages a jaw-dropping 38.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.9 steals and 0.7 blocks per 36 minutes while dropping in 72.7 percent of his shots from the field. 

    That Antetokounmpo hasn’t made a single clutch triple shouldn’t be surprising. If anything, it should make it even more impressive that he’s still finishing such a high percentage of his plays around the rim and generating so many trips to the free-throw stripe. He’s one of 55 players with at least 20 relevant field-goal attempts, and no member of that club has posted a higher free-throw rate: 

    1. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 0.955 free throws per field-goal attempt
    2. Joel Embiid: 0.944
    3. James Harden: 0.855
    4. Danilo Gallinari: 0.81
    5. LaMarcus Aldridge: 0.808

    Beating Harden in that category is always impressive, and Antetokounmpo has also found success at the rim even when the whistles don’t sound. 

    Of his 22 field-goal attempts, the Milwaukee Bucks’ MVP candidate is 16-of-18 from inside three feet and 0-of-4 from further out. He’s misfired on two triples, a hook shot from four feet and a mid-range jumper from 14 in a failed tiebreaking attempt at the buzzer of a Dec. 1 contest with the New York Knicks. Six of his 16 makes have been classified as dunks. 

    Ninety-two players this season have completed at least one clutch slam. Willie Cauley-Stein and DeAndre Jordan are the only other players to tie Antetokounmpo’s league-leading total, but they’ve each missed at least one attempt. 

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.417

    Clutch Possessions: 36

    JJ Redick has been undeniably impressive for a Philadelphia 76ers squad that has produced quite a few high-quality clutch scorers.

    While the Duke product ranks No. 2 in our metric, Jimmy Butler (No. 21) and Joel Embiid (No. 43) have also excelled. Unfortunately, Ben Simmons (No. 351) falls on the opposite end of the spectrum but has at least generated 7.9 assists per 36 minutes. Then again, Tobias Harris also checks in at No. 17 for his season-long efforts, though he’s shot 0-of-2 from the field in clutch situations since arriving in the City of Brother Love.  

    We’ll be more than willing to sing Redick’s praises here. 

    The veteran marksman has averaged 28.7 points per 36 minutes, which sits well above his game-long mark of 21.4—a career high for a man blending in perfectly with the Philadelphia schemes. Those buckets come while he shoots 59.3 percent from the field, 58.8 percent from downtown and 81.8 percent at the stripe, allowing him to earn an 80.1 true shooting percentage

    But Redick’s lofty placement also speaks to the year-to-year volatility of clutch rankings. We’re working with undeniably small samples for this analysis, and that allows for plenty of fluky results. A player can be classified as clutch one year only to flounder in the biggest moments the next. So now, let’s take a quick peek at Redick’s high-stakes shooting over the last 10 campaigns:

If you can find a pattern there, please consider applying to your local codebreaking college with haste. 

But the point here isn’t to pick on Redick, who deserves plaudits for his work in the pressure cooker. This applies to pretty much every clutch scorer in the history of basketball, as it’s virtually impossible to fare consistently well in this area, one that’s so rife with small samples. 

Just enjoy him posting such lofty marks while they last. 

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Points Per Clutch Possession: 1.59

    Clutch Possessions: 39

    Victor Oladipo comes out of the All-Star break tied with CJ McCollum and Donovan Mitchell for No. 34 on the possessions leaderboard, and he won’t be climbing any higher during the 2018-19 campaign. After going under the knife to fix the ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, he definitely won’t be on the floor to assist the Indiana Pacers in any more crunch-time performances. 

    But this isn’t about the future. It’s about what happened before the midseason festivities, which saw Oladipo replaced with D’Angelo Russell as an Eastern Conference representative. And that’s good news for this 2-guard, who excelled in the clutch to such an extent that the gap between him and No. 2 JJ Redick (14.904) is nearly as large as the yawning chasm between Redick and No. 21 Jimmy Butler (6.895). 

    He was that good on a per-possession basis, posting an astounding 54.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per 36 minutes while shooting 63.2 percent from the field, 60.0 percent from downtown and 76.2 percent at the stripe. Better still, he turned the ball over just twice in his 50 relevant minutes. 

    Narrow the focus, and Oladipo only gets more impressive. He was 4-of-5 on lead-altering shots during the final minute of fourth quarters and overtimes before suffering his devastating knee injury, and every single attempt came from beyond the arc. 

    First came a Nov. 3 game against the Boston Celtics in which he single-handedly steered the Pacers back into the lead, knocking down a 22-footer with 52 seconds remaining, a pair of free throws to narrow the gap to a single possession with 29 seconds left and the game-winning, pull-up triple 25 seconds later. Two nights after that, he made a game-tying trey with just under a minute remaining against the Houston Rockets, though he couldn’t get another attempt to fall later in the period.

    Then, during a Jan. 4 contest with the Chicago Bulls, he made the game-tying hoist with 55 seconds left in overtime before sinking the game-winner with one tick left—a ridiculously deep pull-up jumper that left Chicago utterly defeated, both visibly and on the scoreboard. 

    Oladipo may only have suited up 36 times in 2018-19, but he produced a full season’s worth of clutch memories and key performances. 

            

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats accurate through the All-Star break and courtesy of Basketball Reference, NBA.com, PBPStats.com, NBA Math or ESPN.com.

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A Reminder That Only 5 Women Have Ever Been Nominated For Best Director At The Oscars

We’d love to give a big “congratulations!” to all the women nominated for Best Director at the 2019 Academy Awards.

The only problem? We can’t. Because there aren’t any. Once again, the category is overwhelmingly — and frustratingly — male.

It’s not like there weren’t any deserving filmmakers to choose from, either. Marielle Heller’s biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me? received three nominations this year, including one for its screenplay and two for stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, yet no nomination for the director herself. First-time director Josie Rourke’s Mary, Queen of Scots, with Saiorse Ronan in the titular role as the Scottish monarch, courted two Oscar nods for costumes as well as makeup and hairstyling, but nada for Rourke at its helm.

Netflix favorite Bird Box, which apparently amassed over 45 million viewers in its first week on the streaming service, was directed by Susanne Bier. It took the internet by storm, attracting memes, a dangerous set of “challenges,” and a new set of fans for the inimitable Sandra Bullock. And yet, it was still looked over entirely for an Oscar nod just like the other 2018 films by women. The list goes on.

Marielle Heller, speaking to IndieWire, responded to being left out of consideration for the Best Director Oscar with a statement that will no doubt feel disappointing and familiar to women in creative industries like Hollywood.

“People are like, ‘Don’t you feel bad? You were snubbed,’” Heller said. “I was like, I never expected to be nominated. That is the difference.”

Stunningly, in fact, there have only ever been five women nominated for an Academy Award for their directing efforts, and worse still, only a single winner. Since 1929, when the very first Academy Award ceremony was held, brilliant films from female filmmakers have been snubbed. This year’s list of directors is disappointingly bereft of talented women, but it’s a cycle that can — hopefully will — change as more women flex their skills in the director’s chair and smash box-office records in the process.

But to change the future, sometimes you have to look to the past. Ahead of the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday, let’s take a look at the women who made history.

  1. Lina Wertmüller (1977)

    Italian director Lina Wertmüller received her nomination for Best Director in 1977 for Seven Beauties (Pasqualine Sette Bellezze). The film followed an Italian man who chose to become an Army deserter during World War II, who’s subsequently captured by Germans and sent to a prison camp. While there, he works tirelessly to escape, and we learn about his checkered past, including his seven sisters and the deeds he performed before volunteering to become a soldier.

    Wertmüller’s work on the film nabbed her the first-ever nomination for a female filmmaker, as well as the first female nominee for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. Though she ultimately lost to John G. Avildsen’s sports classic Rocky, Wertmüller blazed a trail for women’s recognition in the field.

    Frustratingly, 15 years would pass before another woman was finally up for a chance at an Oscar.

  2. Jane Campion (1994)

    New Zealand director Jane Campion was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director in 1994 for The Piano. The drama chronicled a mute piano player and her daughter, and followed her efforts to get the piano back following its sale — all while falling in love, despairing, and learning heartbreaking lessons in the process. Her career has spanned several important works since then, including the female-led miniseries Top of the Lake, which she wrote, directed, and produced.

    Despite being the second female director in history to be nominated for an Academy Award, Campion ultimately lost the Oscar to Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List — but not all was lost for The Piano. She still took home an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In addition, Campion also has the honor of being the first woman in history to receive the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or prize for the film.

  3. Sofia Coppola (2004)

    It took another decade for a woman to reprise the supporting role of nominee in the Best Director category. In 2004, Sofia Coppola, daughter of Academy Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola, became the first American woman to receive a nomination for her 2003 film Lost in Translation. The romantic comedy-drama paired Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, as actor Bob and college grad Charlotte, as they navigate daily life in Tokyo while being, as the film’s title suggests, “lost in translation.”

    Coppola lost to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. But she didn’t leave the ceremony empty-handed; she won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

  4. Kathryn Bigelow (2010)

    Finally, six years after Coppola’s nomination, director Kathryn Bigelow was nominated for 2009’s The Hurt Locker. Then, something miraculous happened: Nearly 35 years after the first woman was nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, Bigelow actually won, becoming the first — and sadly still, only — female filmmaker to take home the coveted Oscar.

    The Hurt Locker was an explosive and emotional film that examined an Iraq War Explosive Ordinance disposal team adapting to the everyday stressors of combat, as well as its physical and psychological tolls. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards overall and ended up winning six. Not only did Bigelow bag Best Director, but the film also has the distinction of being the first Best Picture winner from a female director.

    She also earned the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film — but this win still didn’t signal a true turning point for women in film. It wouldn’t be until another 10 years later that another woman would be nominated for Best Director, despite Bigelow’s monumental achievement.

  5. Greta Gerwig (2018)

    Greta Gerwig’s 2018 film Lady Bird scored the female auteur a nod for Best Director in 2018, with the film bagging five nominations total. Lady Bird was a daring coming-of-age film that followed a rebellious senior in high school suffocating under the weight of her weary but well-meaning mother’s control.

    It ended up winning two Golden Globes — including Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy — but it didn’t translate to Oscar gold for Gerwig. Instead, that honor went to Guillermo del Toro for his Best Picture-winning film The Shape of Water (yes, the fish sex movie).

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Microsoft says hackers tried to breach European think tanks and non-profit organizations

A spokesperson for the German Council on Foreign Relations confirmed that the organization was “the target of cyber attacks during a limited period on the past year.”

“This is an ongoing investigation upon which we cannot comment further at this time,” the spokesperson told CNBC, adding that the think tank had been implementing “a range of measure(s)” to counter further risks.

The Aspen Institute and The German Marshall Fund did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Microsoft said while it is still investigating the sources of those attacks, the company is “confident” many of them originated from a group it calls Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear. The group, which has been linked to Russia, was reportedly behind the Democratic National Committee hack before the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S.

“The attacks occurred between September and December 2018. We quickly notified each of these organizations when we discovered they were targeted so they could take steps to secure their systems, and we took a variety of technical measures to protect customers from these attacks,” Microsoft said.

The company said it will be offering the Microsoft AccountGuard cybersecurity service in 12 additional European markets from Wednesday, including France, Germany and Sweden. The service is provided to all political candidates, parties and campaign offices at no extra cost, the company said.

European parliamentary elections are due to begin later this year.

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