Why AT&T Next is a Win/Win for Both Consumers and AT&T

Edit: I made an arithmetic mistake in the original article that inflated the savings of the new AT&T Next plans.

AT&T rolled out its new no contract payment plan called AT&T Next. In this model AT&T no longer subsidizes the cost of the phone in exchange for a 2 year contract. Now, consumers will have to pay the full price of the phone. I am going to tell you why that is a good thing.

AT&T will let you pay for your new phone in monthly installments added directly to you bill. There is no down payment, activation fee, upgrade fee, or financing fee (interest). The total cost of the phone divided by the number on months financed is added to you bill.

There are two AT&T Next options—Next 12 and Next 18. With Next 12 the cost of the phone is spit over 20 months with the option to upgrade again at 12 months. After 12 months you have two options for upgrading. Firstly, you can trade in your current working phone for the next phone you want to upgrade to. Or you can pay off the balance on your current phone and upgrade to the next phone. Then the process starts again and you’re paying on a new phone. There is also the Next 18 which has allows for an upgrade at 18 months and the cost of the phone is split over 24 months.

Of course, you don’t have to upgrade. After your phone is paid in full, you are capable of going month to month on your payments while maintaining full ownership of your phone.

I talked to an AT&T representative about this, and his response indicated that it is up to the particular AT&T representative if your phone is in good enough condition to be traded in. However, he did mention that if it powers on and is not cracked then it should be accepted. Dents, scuffs, and general wear and tear are acceptable.

At this point you must be thinking “Why would I want to pay full price for my phone that I was getting at a subsidized price?” AT&T thought the same thing and now offers a $15 monthly discount for data plans less than 10GB and a $25 monthly discount for data plans above 10GB. This monthly discount, subsidy, is why the new AT&T Next is good for you and your wallet. Let me explain. (Assumption: you like having a relatively new phone as often as you can afford it. If you still have a Motorola Razr or Nokia brick, then you’re probably not reading this article anyways.)

With the old 2 year contract plan you could buy a phone at a subsidized price, pay an activation fee and be on your way. After 20 months you are eligible for a phone upgrade if you sign another 2 year contract. You get a subsidized phone price, but you can only get that price once every 20 months. In the table below, you can see the associated cost comparisons for old 2 year contract model and the new Next 12 and 18 models.

Firstly, let us look at the first month’s costs for each of the plans. With the old 2 year contract model you would be required to pay for the cost of the phone and activation fee. For the new flagship phones (i.e. Samsung Galaxy or iPhone) the cost was typically $200. The activation fee is approximately $45. The first month’s costs for 2 year contract are approximately $245 plus any other fees and taxes. The first month’s (net) costs for AT&T Next are $17.50 and $12.08 for Next 12 and Next 18 respectively plus taxes. For the first month of your new Next plan you are going to pay approximately $230 less than your old 2 year contract.

Now let us look at the monthly costs (after the first month) of each of the plans. For the Next 12 you pay $17.50 more each month and for the Next 18 you pay $12.08 more each month than the 2 year contract plan. If you keep your phone until it is paid off you will pay $105 more for Next 12 and $45 more for Next 18. However, if you take advantage of the 12 and 18 month trade-in, you will come out $35 and $27.56 in the black for Next 12 and 18 respectively.

This isn’t a lot of savings. In fact, if you wait too long to trade in your phone you will end up paying more than you would have on the old 2 year contract model.

There are some perks that will have ranging subjective values for different people. For starters, there is not large down payment. You can get your new phone today without a down payment and without any financings fees or interest. When money is tight people tend to avoid spending a lot or money at once. It is pleasant to not be charged more because you can’t pay in full up front. Finally, there is the value of being able to upgrade every 12 months. If you are a savvy at selling things online, you could sell last year’s model and turn a profit.

The new AT&T Next plans will save you a couple bucks. But how does AT&T benefit from this model. Simple, AT&T is no longer subsidizing the other $450 of your new iPhone or Samsung which is more than the $15 a month they give. And if you trade in the phone on your next upgrade, they can sell that as a refurbished phone.

In summary, the new AT&T Next plans can save you up to $35 a year if you upgrade to a new phone every 12 months. It can also cost you as much as $105 over 20 months if you choose not to upgrade. It isn’t a lot, but every dollar counts. With T-Mobile’s Jump and AT&T’s Next installment plans, we might be seeing the start of a shift in how we buy phones.

The Curious Case of Trent Richardson

Richardson is as compact and coiled an athlete as the position has seen since Adrian Peterson. Richardson is explosive, powerful and balanced. He is a heady and instinctual player who is patient enough to wait for blocks and quick enough to cut backfield to daylight. Richardson has a strong core that he uses to break arm tackles and get physical leverage under blitzers in pass protection. He is a true three-down back who can be effective on screens.

Trent Richardson may be the best running back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. He possesses rare strength and speed for an individual his size. He has all the intangibles that you went in a player. Passionate about the game, has a great work ethic, and performs his best against the strongest of competition.”

Richardson is easily the top back in this class, and probably the best running back to come out since Adrian Peterson 5 years ago. His power and speed combo are pretty impressive, and his workhorse ability is rare in today’s game. While some teams will devalue him since the shelf life and value of running backs is more limited, he’s good enough to be the exception to the rule. He should be a top 10 pick, and should vastly improve whatever team lands him.”

Trent Richardson Running By

Richardson was a killer in college.

Just 2 short years ago, these phrases were a nice summary of everything being said about Trent Richardson. He was a can’t miss prospect. He was the exception to not taking running backs early in the draft. He was a true franchise changer. He was easily the best running back since Adrian Peterson.

My how the mighty have fallen.

Trent Richardson was famously traded to the Colts for a 1st round pick and was widely hailed as the missing piece to a budding Colts dynasty. Fast forward just 6 games and Richardson wasn’t even the starter. Losing snaps and trust from coaches, Richardson wasn’t the guy the Colts thought they were getting. And at a hefty price of a first round draft pick, this isn’t good news. Richardson does have value, as we will look into the stats of his production. Reader beware, these numbers are gruesome.

Trent Richardson

Yeah, it’s that bad, man.

Rookie Year

Richardson’s rookie year was somewhat of a disappointment, but was actually talked up due to the Browns being the Browns. He was a bright spot, they said. Well, the numbers tell a different story.

In his first year as a pro, Richardson totaled 950 yards rushing and a nice 11 TDS. Seems respectable. The 1,000 yard benchmark is usually the sign of a productive back, especially in an age where passing is king. A look deeper into those 950 yards gives us a slightly better view at what his value was. He averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry. It is generally accepted that to be deemed a “good” back you must run for 4.0 yards each time you get the ball. To put in perspective, Adrian Peterson (the man Richardson was supposed to be), averaged 5.6 yards per carry his rookie year.

Adrian Peterson is on the Wheaties box

Adrian Peterson gets a Wheaties box. Richardson gets a toilet bowl.

DYAR and DVOA are two amazing statistics employed by Football Outsiders. Basically, DYAR is yards above replacement (league average) and adjusted for defense. This gives us a good indicator of total value. DVOA is defense adjusted value over replacement. This metric is used to measure on a per play basis. Richardson had a DYAR of -51, good for 37th in the league. To sum up what that means, Richardson was 51 yards worse overall than what a league average player should be. DVOA isn’t much better. Richardson accumulated a -13.3% per play value, good for 33rd. Yikes. Per play, Richardson was -13.3% worse than a league average player. Not exactly lighting up the stat boxes.

However, those 11 TDs showed up for a reason. Unfortunately, Richardson is a middling tackle breaker, so he doesn’t break off too many big runs. He is a great short yardage back. His longest TD run was 11 yards. This is a testament to his high TD count. If you are close, he can bang it in.

Another bright spot was Richardson’s receiving, going for 367 yards on 51 catches. His DYAR in receiving was 74 and ranked 11th for all running backs. This positively shows he was an above average pass catcher. His DVOA was a little worse, with a 4.9% and a 23 ranking. The DVOA would be higher, but as he doesn’t break many tackles, he mainly had a lot of short catches and had minimal yards after the catch. Still, you can point directly to his receiving stats and be able to see value. He is a plus out of the backfield. His 1 receiving TD is slightly skewed, due to him being a beast in short yardage situations. Kudos to the Browns coaching staff for realizing his strength and giving him the ball in short yardage situations instead of forcing his other plus skill, receiving.

Overall, I would give his rookie campaign a slightly below average mark. He produced in receiving, but was downright bad in rushing. The franchise label was all but gone, and it looked as if his best case scenario was simply an average back.

trent richardson

This scene was all too common

Sophomore Year

Oh boy. We discussed the pricey trade. He at least had some positives and almost had to get better, right? Flanked by an emerging Andrew Luck, the running lanes were sure to be wide open. Lets see what the numbers say.

He rushed for 563 and 3 TDs. Wait, what? He did have 80 less carries, but his yards per carry dropped all the way to an absolutely abysmal 3.0. In most cases, that is good enough to get you kicked out the league. But the Colts just paid a 1st rounder, so they have to wait this out to see if they can maximize value.

The advanced metrics rear their ugly head even worse than conventional. Richardson’s DYAR was -108, good for a ranking of 45. Wow. Richardson actually became even worse at running the ball. The DVOA checks in at -22.2% and ranks 44th out of all backs. If you remember the description of these stats, Richardson is -22.2% worse than a league average back on a per play basis. Again, these are numbers that will send you to the unemployment line.

What about his one plus, receiving? Basic numbers show he 35 passes for 316 yards. On the surface, seemingly respective numbers. Overall, Richardson was still a plus, but his value was slipping. His DYAR was 34 for a rank of 26. Low ranking for all the backs, but he saw his snaps fall. A plus DYAR is still a plus. The DVOA came in -2.6% for a ranking of 25th. Again, Richardson is unable to break tackles, so his per play stats will look worse, since he cannot break off long runs after the catch.

In his second year, Richardson became worse across the board. The coaches were well aware of this, as we saw his snap count fall more and more throughout the season. He was literally unplayable in the Colts playoff appearance. A gigantic step back for the once budding franchise back.

Verne Lundquist presenting trophy to Trent Richardson

Richardson misses the good old days.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Honestly? I don’t think he can get any worse, outside of not playing. We can officially rule out ever being a franchise or game changing back. Richardson may have to accept his role in the NFL, a short yardage back with a good set of hands. A move to full back may actually not be a bad move. I imagine the Colts will give him one more season before making that type of decision, though.

Through his first 2 years, Trent Richardson is the definition of a bust. The only people who still think he has amazing potential are delusional Colts and Alabama fans. You can hang up franchise status. Richardson is a good short yardage back. He can also catch. This brings value. He can reinvent himself as a special package running back for short yardage situations. He can become a shotgun formation specialist as his catching skills are above average.

Read that last paragraph again. This man was the next great running back in the NFL, and now we are writing statements like that. This upcoming season will be huge for Richardson. A season that may decide whether he needs to find a new career or not. Stay tuned.

 

Why I Choose to Carry A Firearm

I know what some people immediately jump to when they hear about a white male that owns firearms: Uneducated, homophobic, misogynistic, white trash, racist—there is a certain stereotype to owning firearms.  This is far from the truth.  I start at The University of Alabama for Mechanical Engineering soon and also served in the U.S. Navy as an engineer.  I worked with guys I knew were gay, but it didn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me.  In fact, two friends and I stopped a couple of disputes one night at our barracks and were commended by the Honolulu police department for doing the right thing.  Most people in the Navy didn’t even know I was from the south on my ship, and I worked with every race.  I met good friends that I still keep in touch with: some in other countries now.  Of course there are always bad apples, just like there is always evil in the world. We see it every day in the media, or we know someone that’s affected by evil. I’ve had 2 incidents in life where I needed a firearm to protect me from evil, and I chose from then on to carry a firearm.

Shooting and hunting with guns and bows has been a big family affair most of my life. All 3 uncles and my grandfather on my mom’s side hunted.  For one uncle, it is a religion—he’s out every day during the season and has it down to a science. He collects pictures from game cameras, plants food plots, sets up hunting stands, and scouts potential areas during the off season to better improve his take when the season does comes around.  To most hunters that’s a big part of hunting because you’re hunting well before you pull the trigger—that’s part of fun.  My dad hunted years ago, but doesn’t have time now.  Most of his side of the family hunted (typical of people from Maine). So I grew up in a house with deer heads, antlers, and turkey feathers hanging on the wall, but most importantly: firearms.

I was always taught never to play with them because they are not toys but tools. Tools that can be deadly if mishandled or abused. Tools just like a bow and arrow, a knife, a vehicle, a baseball bat, or a 2×4.   It’s ultimately what you do with that tool that defines the person—good or bad. No tool decides one day to take a life—be it human or animal.  There is always a person behind it that made that decision. No tool is evil ether.  So why do people put that stigma on firearms but not a car, baseball bat, or any other object?  Is it because they are only seen as used just for killing?

Usually these people have never heard of any kind shooting sports. The National Rifle Association was started to improve rifle proficiency after the Civil War.  It was noted that during the Civil War, the Union troops fired 1,000 shots to every Confederate wounded—that was a severe lack in marksmanship. This ultimately turned it into a sport.   Today there are firearms designed just for competition based on speed and accuracy.

Being former Navy, I’ve seen firsthand many people who never shot a firearm let alone handled one. In the Navy when we go through boot camp, there is a several week course on handling firearms and safety. We drilled quite often before we even touched a real gun by using inoperable pistols. I caught the guy (a fellow recruit) in charge of the firearms one day muzzle sweeping (pointing at) people and twirling. I proceeded to chew him out because it’s not proper gun safety: even if they couldn’t fire a bullet, who is to say he doesn’t do that with a gun that could?

This all lead up to live fire and most of the guys around my rack had never shot before and were very nervous. I got them to relax and told them it’s not hard.  I told them that I bet after they shot they might want one. We get done with the training, and we go back to the apartment—all the guys who never shot were excited and wanted to do it again.  It was such foreign a concept to see.  I just reminded them why we were in the military, and that we can own things like that if we wanted to. I’m pretty sure I saw a few new/future gun owners that day. I was so happy for them I was not mad that my unit didn’t qualify me as expert shot even though I was one.  But that’s another story for another day.

Several years ago I use to work at a pizza place before I turned 21.  Another worker and I had shut down for the day.  It’s around 10-10:30pm, and I had let another worker go home around 9:30pm. As he walked out the back, I threw a box into the back area for the trash.  As my car was always parked around back,  I thought I’d just throw it away when I left.  I also decided to prop the door open to cool off the back area as I counted the day’s tickets. This was a huge mistake and one thing that still sits with me today about always being aware my personal surroundings.

As I counted the tickets I hear the door open thinking it was the guy I let go just 30 minutes before.  The guy who I think is my friend grabs me.   He always likes to mess around so I thought nothing of it.  He then puts me in a kind of headlock but not brutal choke hold or anything so I tell him to quite messing around.  But at the same time I feel a cold piece of metal in my ear, and I knew exactly what it was—it wasn’t a joke.

Everything doesn’t seem to move in normal time when you’re scared for your life.  I had no idea what this guy wants or what he could and might do. Obviously he wanted money, but what’s he going to do to me? I had already dropped the money in the lock box of the safe which I can’t get into.  There is only 100 bucks in 1 dollar bills and change—would that be enough to tide him over  or is he going to shot me and my coworker regardless? I was promptly asked if anyone else was in the store and was told to take the gunman to the back of the store. He pretty much had the same look of disbelief I had when he stepped into the back. He was grabbed and thrown into the bathroom.  As I now see there are 2 people.  The guy that had me became violent and demanded I open the safe.  He assaults me with the pistol and repeatedly hits me. Safe to say it didn’t get worse than that but I was a bloody mess. I was gnashed on the forehead right on my hairline and had a huge knot on the top of my head but other than that I was fine.

Now I’m not going to say a firearm would have made a difference—the fact is that I didn’t have one and wasn’t aware of my surroundings.  You can best believe I won’t drop my guard like that ever again. Now by the law if I did have a firearm on me, pulled it, shot, and killed him I would have been in the right, clear as black and white no doubt about it.  I was in fear of someone else’s life—in this case, my coworker’s–I can’t read minds to know what gunmen are going to do.  In that instance, it’s his life or my life. I’d rather he couldn’t do this to another person, but people will take my story seriously because everything ended okay or wasn’t that bad or whatever BS line they like to throw out.  What if the next night he did the same thing again but something went wrong and he killed an innocent person? No one has the right to treat another person like that nor do I blame the gun for busting my head open.

What’s the difference between a privilege and a right? A privilege is permission granted by law, a right is something no one can take away. You have a right to eat and to live.   No one can take that away without just cause.  Your privilege would be anything that the government provides like allowing you to drive or allowing children the opportunity to attend school.  Your ability to live, protect, and better yourself isn’t a privilege.  There is a reason it’s called the Bill of Rights not the Bill of Privileges. I always hear the anti-gun side spout that the second amendment is dated and should be changed or amended. Well while we’re at it, free speech is dated, due process is dated, and freedom of the press is dated.

People usually go on the tangent that I hate school children or little kids or something along those lines because I’m for guns. That couldn’t be further from the truth. No lawful gun owner wants to see or hear of children getting killed.  It’s a deranged crazy person infringing on someone’s rights and not the majority of gun owners. Why does that person’s actions dictate what I can’t and can own. I don’t wish to ever have to use my firearm—it’s there as a tool for a situation I can’t contain. A heated argument with someone no, a violent argument where the person threatens me with a knife or some other weapon yes.  A gun is a tool to defuse the situation, and if that doesn’t stop them then lethal force.

A lot of people tend to feel uncomfortable for that reason—that a person with a gun has too much power.  As I was saying in my story of the robbery and assault, I wouldn’t be willing put myself in that position ever again. I’m not paranoid just cautious like a female choosing not to walk down a dark unlit alley—maybe 99.9% of the time nothing happens but why put yourself in that position.  This is also why I advocate females carry too. Anti-gunners tend to think people who own guns want to be vigilantes or it’s go wild west.  Well I’m not Charles Bronson and this isn’t a Clint Eastwood western.  This is real life and in real life some people commit violent crimes. Recent data estimates there are anywhere from 200 million to 300 million legally owned firearms in America (these are only estimates because the government isn’t allowed to know what I own) and the most recent data from the FBI in 2011 shows 8,583 homicides from firearms (legally and illegally obtained). I would think if gun owners were trigger happy that number would be significantly higher.

My second incident came a couple years later right after I turned 21.  I choose to purchase a full sized Magnum Research IMI Baby Eagle .45ACP (not a Desert Eagle but the same company made both firearms and Magnum Research being the distributor for the states wanted to capitalize on the name sake) because I worked 3rd shift at a gas station.  All the freaks come out from 10pm-7am.  I carried at work every night.  Now a paper I signed when I started stated I couldn’t and could be fired for doing so but it’s not against the law.  I legally had a concealed carry permit and confirmed this with the local police. On the plus side my boss was a good friend and I had pushed him into buying guns.   In fact, he taught me how to reload ammo so he didn’t care that I did but the area manager did.

When I was off the clock, I had a bad habit of occasionally carrying it—my second mistake I won’t ever do again. So I had started talking to a female friend who decided to get dinner with me one night, and I meet her at her place and rode in her car to local restaurant. I had decided before I left the house I wasn’t going to carry the pistol tonight out of convenience to me, and so I didn’t have to explain that one to her. We get to the restaurant order our food and the night goes pretty well.   As we are eating, 2 police officers I see on night shift stop in for dinner. I say hello because they come in every night I work, and they sit a few booths away.  So as we are sitting and talking, a random stranger decides to sit down next to my female friend, and I can clearly see she is mortified of him. He starts a conversation with her like I’m not even there, and I interject and ask him who he is and what he wants. He shoots me a glare and tried to intimidate me by saying he was her boyfriend which she shot down pretty quickly.  Turns out, he was her ex, and they broke up some time ago. I can see she is in discomfort and doesn’t want to be near this guy. I kindly ask him to leave. He bows up in a threatening gesture at me. I laugh and point out the 2 police officers sitting only 10-15 feet away from him. He walks off, but he shows up as we are leaving (I also made a comment to the police officers about his behavior).  I tell her let’s just leave thinking this is the end of this.  How wrong I was? We get back to her place and talk for a little while.  She apologizes for the incident and this guy shows up at her house with 3 of his friends yelling for her to come out and something about me. Well her father runs them off and asks me to leave.  I comply but I’m not the bad guy here.  So I leave for my house unknown to me, the lowlife had parked several streets down and saw me leave. He commenced to chase me in his car.  I like to modify cars so he wasn’t getting near my car—I probable had 3 times the horsepower and torque he did and my car was 1000 pounds lighter. So on comes another of those “what do I do?” moments in life.

I can’t stop because there are 4 guys in that car.  I have no idea what is going across their minds—maybe not murder but assault more than likely. Again I have the right to protect myself and trust me I was mad I didn’t bring the pistol. So I do the only logical thing and call the police.  I explain what’s going on and that I was stopping at my work and going inside.  Lucky for me my work wasn’t far from her house—maybe a couple of miles away. I stop and tell the other nightshift guy at the time what was going on and that I was waiting on the police. I had another lucky break as the 2 police officers who were eating earlier where the ones who got the call so they kind of knew the story. I fill them in on what happened after we left.  They ask me a few questions like his name and all.   I didn’t know, and they can tell I’m flustered, and I say out loud those guys were lucky I wasn’t carrying tonight. One of the police officers heard this and tried to lecture me like I was 10 years old.   I shot back that being chased by 4 guys in the situation gives me the right to protect myself. Now I have a close family friend who was a well-known police officer in town and avid gun owner.  He had a brutal run in with some robbers when he was carrying, and it’s the reason he was hired as a police officer.  I told him the story care to guess what he had to say: I would have been in the right. Again I’m not going to say a firearm would have made the situation better or worse but what would have happened if they showed up before the police officers got there, beat me half to death, and send me to the hospital? They were willing to go as far as they did, why not lethally far?

I don’t want to have to use any of my firearms ever, but it’s there if I do. It’s something you really have to think about if you decide to carry.  No one can make that choice for you but you.  If you want my opinion though why would you want to wound someone who wants to kill you or cause you harm?  Also, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The whole time I’ve been writing this article I’ve had one of my guns on me the whole time.  Care to guess what it did? Nothing.  It sat in the holster unassumingly ready if I needed it. My other gun sat in my room in its holster all day, and I’m absolutely positive it didn’t shot anyone either.

I’ve also had to explain to people that guns don’t just go off.  I get that one all the time from my stepmother.  I’ve sat her down and showed it to her—it can’t possible go off.  My gun that I don’t carry often has quite a few safeties on it—a slide lock that not only locks the slide from raking in a new round but prevents the trigger from being pulled; a beaver tail safety that can only be activated by holding the gun and depressing a switch to disengage the safety; and a hammer that has to cocked backed.  If you manage to do all that, then you were trying to shot the gun.

My everyday carry revolver doesn’t have as nearly as many safeties, but it does have a 10 pound pull on the trigger.   To put that in perspective, try picking up a 10 pound weight with one finger. That’s one of the great things about owning firearms—you can get them to your style and preference.  If you’re thinking about wanting to buy a gun, then there is nothing better than actually holding one in your hands—never buy a gun without at least holding it. When you do decide on one, please think about practicality.  The Desert Eagle looks cool, but do you want to carry around 10 pounds of gun on your waist, in a bag, or in a purse all day?  Of course not.  You would carry it—defeating the whole purpose of owning it. On the flip side, do you want a gun that might not be enough to stop someone like a little .22? Yeah it’s small and concealable, but is it effective? After you choose the caliber, you also need to take in account magazine size: is 13 rounds of 9mm enough? What about 10 .40 S&W? I’ll stick to my 8 rounds of .45ACP and a backup magazine.

Do you like guns? Against them altogether? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

> on April 8, 2013 in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Cleveland’s Very One-Sided Trade for Love

When I caught wind of the news that Love was going to Cleveland, my first thought was that the league is in some serious trouble. By any metric, the Cavs now have 2 of the top 3 players on the same team in Love and Lebron. It is not going to be fair or very pretty for other NBA teams. Lebron and Love were created to be on the same team together. I looked up the trade framework and immediately felt sick. The Cavaliers gave up almost nothing to get Love, a top 3 player in the league and a player who instantly puts the title run through the city of Cleveland. How could the Timberwolves give away Love and change the face of the NBA? They couldn’t hold out for something better? The Timberwolves knew they had all the leverage and that Lebron is running the show in Cleveland, and Lebron demanded Love.

LeBron

Lebron is happy his team just committed highway robbery. I know saying 3 first round picks, 2 of which are the first overall, for Love being one sided sounds ridiculous. But lets look at the absolute values of these players. Basketball Reference has an awesome statistic called “win shares” that calculates how many wins a player is worth. Lets see what value these players bring: Kevin Love – 14.3 Anthony Bennett – -0.4 Andrew Wiggins – 5.1 (more on this) 2015 protected 1st round pick – between -1.0 and 4 So, here is what we are looking at. By having Kevin Love on your team, he is giving your team 14.3 wins. That is good for third best in the league and only 1.5 behind Lebron James. To make this trade worth it, you need to get a value somewhere close to what Love gets you. Keep in mind Love is only 25. Wizards v/s Timberwolves 03/05/11

Kevin Love no longer has to play with a shit sandwich for team mates. Here is what the Timberwolves got in return for Love’s immense value.

  • Anthony Bennett, who is giving you negative wins by being on your team. He was one of the worst rookies ever, for someone who played big minutes. Anthony Bennett is so bad he costs your team wins. Great.
  • Andrew Wiggins. Where did I get 5.1 for Wiggins? That is what Lebron’s win shares were his rookie year. I am giving Wiggins a HUGE benefit of the doubt by saying he will be at least Lebron James rookie good during his first season. What’s more likely? He has a win share between 3 and 4. I’m having to assume Wiggins is going to be Lebron to even make this trade make sense. Which I am not seeing, at all.
  • The first round pick Minnesota is getting will fall between 20 and 30. How valuable is this pick? Not very. It can be worth negative wins all the way to 4.0 wins. What’s more likely? About 1 win.

If you are keeping score at home, the Timberwolves are getting 9 win shares of value for Kevin Love’s 14.3. And that is the absolute BEST case scenario. More than likely, the Timberwolves will be getting about 5 win shares of value for Kevin Love’s immense value. This is a horrible trade.

Anthony-Bennett

Bennett is just happy to be here. He is just costing your team wins to be here. I know the trade is all about future dividends. Wiggins could become the best player in the league, but he most likely won’t. Bennett is so bad that he most likely will only have a ceiling of good role player off of the bench. And historically, the 1st round pick will become nothing more than an end of the rotation player. To recap, the Timberwolves are getting a guy who doesn’t project to be a top 10 player, a role player, and an end of the rotation guy for a 25 year old superstar who is a top 3 player in the league. This is despicable.Wiggins

The Wolves are hoping Wiggins is the next coming of Lebron. No matter how you slice it, the Timberwolves got ripped off and failed to get value from Kevin Love. Cleveland pillaged them and almost guaranteed a half decade of championship basketball. Meanwhile, the Wolves continue a historic run of incompetence. Wiggins may turn out to be great, but Wiggins would need to be once in a generation great to make up for this very one-sided trade. Don’t let all the fluff of number 1 picks fool you. This was a horrible trade that will only look worse as time goes by.   UPDATE It is rumored that the Timberwolves will be flipping Bennett to Philadelphia for Thad Young. Young is worth 3.5 wins. It would help garner extra value in the trade, but Young is who he is. It wouldn’t stop this trade from being just awful.

King of the Point Guard Hill: Part 2 – Scoring

In case you missed the first the first part of this, you can head on over to http://baxterandfriends.net/king-of-the-point-guard-hill-part-1-methodology-passing/ and read up on who are the best passers in the NBA.

So, we have now come to scoring. For some, this part really helped their case in being named the best point guard in the NBA. For others, well, it was a pretty ugly sight. Scoring is an integral part in the NBA. Last time, we looked at how these guys created for others and now we are going to see who can create for themselves. From catch and shoot to driving, we cover it all.

Stephon Marbury

Starbury was no stranger to getting buckets.

We will first look at the methodology I am using, then take a look at the stats, and we will finish with some analysis and breakdown of these 24 men. So, you can skip the boring stuff or you can read it. The choice is yours and yours alone! On to the stats!

Methodology

Overall, I used 10 different stat categories. These categories are:

  • Points per game. This gives us a nice totality of how many points are scored. The number can be deceiving, but this is why we have the other categories.
  • Drive Points per game. How many points are scored a game where a player is driving to the basket.
  • Drive shot percentage. The percentage a player shoots on drive situations.
  • Catch and shoot points per game. How many points a game a player scores where he catches the ball and immediately shoots, without making too many dribbles or basketball moves.
  • Catch and shoot percentage. The percentage a player shoots in and catch and shoot situations.
  • Pull up points per game. How many points per game a player scores where he picks up his dribble to shoot.
  • Pull up points per game percentage. The percentage a player shoots in pull up situations.
  • Effective field goal percentage. A lovely stat that weighs shots accordingly, 3 the hardest and 1 the easiest, and gives a players overall percentage from the three different types of shots.
  • Free throw attempts per game.
  • Free throw percentage.

Using all of these, we can make a formula that not only takes into account how many points these guys are scoring, but also how efficiently they are doing it. This is major as both volume and efficiency will be taken into account. Although it is great to score, it is also great to score efficiently. You may also notice that I left out the 3. This is on purpose. A 3 point shot is accounted for in all of these stats. So it will be there naturally and I saw no reason to include it as a stand alone stat when it is naturally occurring in the base stats I am using.

Derrick Rose Colored Jersey And Black and White Background

Rose will hopefully be healthy next year. Interesting to see where he falls in this ranking next year.

The Big Table of Stats

Player Name
Points Per Game
Drive PPG
Drive %
Catch and Shoot PPG
C&S %
Pull Up PPG
Pull Up %
eFG%
Free Throw Attemps per game
FT %
Chris Paul
19.1
3.3
52.2%
1.8
42.9%
8
43.4%
51.1%
5.6
.855%
John Wall
19.3
4
49.5%
2.2
41.9%
6.6
34%
47.2%
4.8
.805
Ty Lawson
17.6
5.6
50.7%
2
35.9%
4.9
37%
47.5%
6.5
.798%
Kendall Marshall
8
2.1
46.5
3.2
40.8%
1.9
33.9%
49%
0.7
.528%
Ricky Rubio
9.5
3.6
42.3%
1.7
34.3%
1.5
29%
41.3%
3.5
.802%
Stephen Curry
23.9
4.2
51.6%
4.1
48.9%
11
43.6%
56.4%
4.5
.885%
Brandon Jennings
15.5
3
36.9%
2.1
33.1%
6.4
34.9%
44.1%
4
.751%
Kyle Lowry
18
4.1
50%
4.1
43.7%
4.7
32.2%
51.2%
4.9
.807%
Kyrie Irving
20.8
4.6
46.7%
3.1
35.6%
7.9
40.6%
48%
4.8
.737%
Russell Westbrook
21.8
4.3
39.2%
1.2
31.7%
7.7
38.1%
48%
6.4
.826%
Goran Dragic
20.3
5.3
51.6%
2.8
43.1%
5
40.1%
56.1%
5.5
.760%
Mike Conley
17.2
4.8
48.6%
3.1
36.2%
4.8
41.3%
50%
3.8
.815%
Michael Carter Williams
16.7
5.8
37.8%
1.7
28.8%
3
33.9%
43.1%
5.2
.703%
Isiah Thomas
20.4
5.6
51.6%
2.9
41.2%
6.5
39.3%
51.3%
5.7
.850%
Kemba Walker
17.7
3.8
38.9%
3
36.3%
6
36.4%
44.1%
4.6
.837%
Jeff Teague
16.5
5.6
42.1%
1.5
33.1%
3.5
37%
47.6%
4.8
.846%
Tony Parker
16.7
6.3
52.7%
1.5
40
4.2
44.5%
51.3%
3.6
.811%
Damian Lillard
20.7
5.6
40.4%
4.5
42.6%
5.9
38.4%
50.8%
5.2
.871%
Jose Calderon
11.4
0.7
47.2%
5.8
44.8%
3.5
42.3%
58.4%
0.8
.825%
Eric Bledsoe
17.7
5.9
52.9%
1.6
35.3%
4.8
39.6%
52.2%
5.5
.855%
Rajon Rondo
11.7
4.4
41.9%
1
29.4%
3.7
37.6%
44%
2.2
.627%
Trey Burke
12.8
1.9
37.2%
4.5
36.6%
4
35.1%
44.2%
1.6
.903
Deron Williams
14.3
3.2
49.7%
4
45.8%
3.9
39.6%
51.8%
3.4
.801%
Jameer Nelson
12.1
3
49.1%
2.8
33.9%
4.1
32.4%
48.5%
1.6
.857

Well, that is a ton to look at! Lets break down a few of these into a few subcategories so we can get an idea of what we are looking at before we rank them.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry can simply shoot from anywhere.

The Ugly

Rajon Rondo, Michael Carter-Williams, Ricky Rubio, and Brandon Jennings… you guys just can’t shoot. This is not as problematic for Rondo and Rubio since they are not scorers and don’t take a large percentage of shots. However, Jennings and MCW are atrocious and should refrain from shooting. These two are the very definition of volume scorers. Low efficiency, and just a detriment to the team. This is about as ugly as stats as we are going to find. Yuck.

We have seen the future of MCW and it looks ugly.

Elite Drivers

Tony Parker and Eric Bledsoe are simply the two best driving point guards in the game. The stats don’t lie. These men score more WITH higher efficiency than any of the other point guards. It’s great to analyze play styles between these two. Tony Parker uses finesse, while Bledsoe is a bully on his way to the rim. Still, these two men cannot be stopped when they lower their heads and drive. Just ask Lebron.

Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe was a bully even backing up Chris Paul in LA.

Off-ball Masters

Jose Calderon is the best off the ball point guard. His catch and shoot scoring and percentage fair better than anyone else. Which is an extremely handy skill. Even if he doesn’t have the ball, you have to watch him because he will kill you if you leave him open. Other catch and shoot masters are Deron Williams, Damian Lillard (remember the playoffs?), Kyle Lowry, and Stephen Curry. Curry is literally millimeters behind Calderon. This is especially impressive considering Curry is elite in almost every other category as well. Seriously, who is leaving Curry open anyways!!!???

Folks, THIS is what a catch and shoot is!

Stop and Pop

The Pull up shot is one of my favorites. Even though it is a low percentage shot, it is such a game changer when you hit it. It is usually a follow up to a shakedown and some circus dribbling. It is just a damn fun play. Stephen Curry, again, is the best pull up shooter in the game. Especially from 3. It makes no sense. Again, who is leaving this man open!?

Nasty.

Others are elite pull up shooters as well. We see Chris Paul is just barely behind Curry in overall Pull up stats. If you ever watch Chris play, you can clearly see he loves to dribble into open space and take the open mid-range pull up. One of the best shots in the game right now.  We see Kyrie Irving pull this same thing. Irving loves working this shot out of screens and double screens off of the pick and roll. One of his favorite plays since college. Tony Parker shows up again. Tony also loves to weave into mid range and closer to unleash his nasty pull up game. Isiah Thomas and Goran Dragic aren’t quite elite, but they are worth mentioning here as well.

Chris Paul

Perfect example of what Paul loves to do.

Goran Dragic Needs His Own Space

Goran Dragic doesn’t do anything elite, except for his effective field goal percentage, but he does every thing DAMN good. He needs mention of this. Him and Isiah Thomas both. Dragic is simply an amazing scoring point guard who is very well rounded. Him and Bledsoe are an unfair backcourt. Two points co-existing as one. But, Goran Dragic needed some special attention. One of my favorite players and the numbers show that he is special.

20090930-4228

Dragic working the mismatch.

Stephen Curry is Good

The categories in which Curry ranks in the top 5, out of 10: PPG, Drive %, C&S PPG, C&S %, Pull Up PPG, Pull up %, eFG%, and FT%. That leaves only two categories in which he is not top 5. Un. Fair.

The Rankings

Now that we have seen the stats and looked a little deeper, lets rank these guys. As I mentioned, I compiled this list by plugging all stats into the formula. This ranking reflects both volume and efficiency.

  1. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
  2. Isiah Thomas – Sacramento Kings (Now with Phoenix Suns)
  3. Chris Paul – LA Clippers
  4. Damian Lillard – Portland Trailblazers
  5. Mike Conley – Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Goran Dragic – Phoenix Suns
  7. Eric Bledsoe – Eric Bledsoe
  8. Tony Park – San Antonio Spurs
  9. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors
  10.  Kyrie Irving – Cleveland Cavaliers
  11.  Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets
  12.  Jose Calderon – Dallas Mavericks (Now with the New York Knicks)
  13.  John Wall – Washington Wizards
  14.  Deron Williams – Brooklyn Nets
  15.  Russell Westbrook – OKC Thunder
  16.  Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets
  17.  Jeff Teague – Atlanta Hawks
  18.  Trey Burke – Utah Jazz
  19.  Jameer Nelson – Orlando Magic (Now with Dallas Mavericks)
  20.  Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia 76ers
  21.  Brandon Jennings – Detroit Pistons
  22.  Kendall Marshall – LA Lakers (Now with Milwaukee Bucks)
  23.  Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics
  24.  Ricky Rubio – Minnesota Timberwolves

This is how Thomas ended up where he did.

 

Surprises

  • Who saw Isiah Thomas as the second best scoring point guard in the league? Not me. Like Dragic, he is a man who does everything DAMN good.
  • Did not see Conley ranked so high either. Just an efficient player.
  • Dragic, Bledsoe, and Thomas are in the top 7 and all on the same team. Phoenix has an absolute wealth of talent at PG. This leads me to believe they may be looking at life without Dragic. Stay tuned.
  • Kyrie Irving barely cracks the top 10, at 10. His reputation is bigger than what his stats are at the moment. An average shooter who happens to take a lot of shots.
  • Russell Westbrook!? Ladies and gentleman, this is what high volume and low percentage shooting will get you. Now can we talk him into letting Durant shoot the damn ball?
  • Ricky Rubio is a bad shooter, but I didn’t realize his low scoring and efficiency are this bad. He is going to have to hope his passing outweighs his atrocious shooting.
  • MCW is another young terrible shooter. Gaining favor in the rankings from the volume, but it is absolutely a detriment if he keeps this garbage up.
  • I was always low on Damian Lillard, but after doing this, I am going to give him his due. He is a great scorer. A very gifted scorer. I would place him ahead of Kyrie, who seems to get all of the praise.
  • I thought Wall would end up higher. However, he isn’t the greatest shooter yet and is mainly an average scorer. Still, he puts up 19 a game. If he refines his shot, he could easily move into top 5 territory. He is on the cusp.

John Wall

Almost, John Wall! Almost!

 

So there it is everybody. The scoring rankings. Next week, I am tying everything up and we are going to rank these guys overall.

Let me know what you think about the rankings so far and debate, or praise, me if you want. Hope you enjoyed and see you soon!

And for good measure, Stephen Curry…

 

College Football Preview: Alabama Crimson Tide

Apollo’s College Football Preview Series | #2 Alabama Crimson Tide

#1: Florida State Seminoles

Which team can lose its three year starting quarterback, Butkus Award winning linebacker, twelve other players to the NFL, and still be heavy favorites to make the college football playoffs? Only Alabama!

If Nick Saban taught us anything it is to never count out Alabama. Let me paint this picture for you. Alabama is coming off a disappointing end to their previous season. They lost multiple starters including their multi-year starting QB. Does that sound familiar? Well, this was the situation in 2009 and 2011 and we all know what happened in those years.

The 2014 Alabama Crimson Tide might be the most talented team in the nation. They will return multiple future NFL draft picks on offense and defense.  Former Jameis Winston backup, Jacob Coker, is already getting Heisman consideration;  probably because of the weapons he will have. Amari Cooper is one the best WR in the nation. Christion Jones is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. DeAndrew White, Chris Black, Robert Foster, Raheem Falkins and newcomer Cameron Sims will add great depth to the passing attacking. O.J. Howard is a mixmatch at the TE positon. Oh yea, there are also 3 great running backs. TJ Yeldon is only 1,155 yards away from Shaun Alexander’s record and 16 TDs away from Mark Ingram’s record. Both of those records are quite doable…except there is this stud called Derrick Henry who will demand carries. Getting everyone involved will be task of new Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has experience in this before during this time at USC under Pete Carroll. Remember Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Matt Leinhart, Dwayne Jarrett, and Steve Smith anyone? This offense should be exciting.

The defense should be better than last year. Nick Saban did his annual Kansas City Shuffling of his coaching staff and it might pay off. Chris Rumph and Greg Brown “resigned” and took positions at other colleges. Kirby Smart added secondary to his list of duties and Kevin Steele stepped down from Director of Player Personnel to take over the inside linebackers job. In my humble opinion, the most exciting coaching change was bringing back Bo Davis as defensive line coach. Alabama had a brick wall defensive line when Bo Davis was leading the pack. Now he’s back with some new tools to play with A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen, Jarran Reed, Tim Williams, Dee Liner, Brandon Ivory, Dalvin Tomlinson and incoming freshman Da’Shawn Hand and Josh Frazier. The linebacker unit lost C.J. Mosley but Denzel Devall is expected to fill in as leader of the front seven. Landon Collins is arguable the best defensive in the nation and he will lead a very young but talented secondary.

Alabama’s schedule is not that hardest one out there…but it’s not a cakewalk neither. Alabama kicks off the season in Ben Hill Griffin Bryant-Denny Dome against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Alabama is currently 6-4 in the Georgia Dome but 4-0 when it’s against a non-Florida Gators team. The Crimson Tide has won the previous three Chick-fil-A Kickoff matchups by a 103-44 margin of victory. The Tide looks to regain its national powerhouse status early but a beat down on West Virginia will not surprise anybody. The first true team will come September 20th against the Florida Gators. The Gators will be returning one of the best defenses in the nation with their own outstanding pass rush and lockdown corner. Alabama will have a bye week before their next text against Ole Miss at Oxford. Ole Miss has all the talent to win the SEC West…but which Bo Wallace will show up to this game? Bama has TAMU at home and will travel to face a much improved Tennessee Vols team. After this second bye week, Bama will head down to the Baton Rouge to face the Bayou Bengals. Many experts are writing off LSU this season, but never count out the Mad Hatter. Alabama will finish the regular season with THE most anticipated game of the season…The Iron Bowl. Alabama will be looking for payback and will go full throttle (see 2011 Iron Bowl). If they win the West, a matchup with UGA or South Carolina looms in Atlanta.

Best Case Scenario: 13-0 2nd Seed in the College Football Playoffs

Realistic Scenario: 12-1 SEC Champs and still 2nd Seed in College Football Playoffs

Worst Case Scenario: 10-2 and an Orange Bowl selection

How My New Car Cost Me $1,000,000

“I Will Always Have a Car Loan”

The next time that you hear someone say this phrase, please sprinkle holy Evian on them immediately and then refer them to this blog. That phrase is not only false, but it will cost us MILLIONS of dollars over our lifetimes.  Millions? Yes, millions! Let’s break things down so we can get a clearer picture of what I mean.

The average brand new car in March 2014 was $32,086 with an average monthly car loan payment of $710 with the assumption of a 48 month loan term at 3% interest.   For the record, this example has already made our total loan repayment $34,068 before we really get too deep. Yes, we just lost $2000 before we even left the car dealership lot. But let’s move on to bigger fish.

Typically, cars lose 20% in depreciation in the first year, 15% in the second and third year, and then 10% in the fourth year. So in this example, this would mean that the car is worth $16,691.

The average age of cars on the road in the United States today is a little over 11 years old. Most automobiles are pretty dependable nowadays because of the advances in quality and technology—so 11 years is not a stretch at all. So given that information, we could have owned the same car for over 50% less money if we had just waited a few years and bought with cash. But, I’m still not done.

Let’s assume we repeat this “gotta have a new car” buying habit for 40 years. For simple math purposes, let’s assume each new car costs exactly as much as the first car did.

So after 40 years, we have bought 10 cars and lost:

(a) a whopping $20,000 to car loan interest

(b) a monstrous $173,950 to depreciation

But it gets worse, you also lost:

(c) a life-changing $2.36 million dollars!

2MILLION DOLLARS

(Assumes we invested $404 per month in lost depreciation and car loan interest every month into a good mutual fund at 10% rate of return for 40 years)

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?

For giggles, let’s assume we learned our lesson on the first car, but we still bought the first car anyway. In that scenario, let’s deposit $404 per month for just four years and then wait 40 years. After 40 years, you still lost the opportunity to:

(d) a still life-changing $760,000 dollars!

700K

CAN YOU AFFORD TO LOSE THIS MUCH MONEY?

A Very Subjective Top 10 Hip-Hop Songs of All Time List

Warning: Strong language 

I decided to take a break from looking at millions of numbers in the basketball data base to take on a more personal endeavor. I am here to rank my favorite 10 Hip-Hop songs of all time. It was a tough list! I had to leave off such classics like Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” and the always infectious “ATLiens” by Outkast. I even wanted to include some lesser knowns such as the artists Wax, ATL, and my dude, Immortal Technique. Ultimately, nostalgia probably played a large factor, but it is my list. Who cares?

To make the list I had only one requirement: Talent. So, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Lil Wayne (by himself), Ja Rule, Tyga, and Nelly obviously were disqualified by default.

Make a custom playlist and let the music flow.

#10 – Tupac – Hail Mary

I was young when this came out, but that didn’t stop me from loving the hell out of this song. The beat is straightforward and lends itself to Tupac just letting it fly. His cadence is perfect over the beat. Kastro and Young Noble come in right in the middle and just kill it. I have never felt the street life struggle, but this song made a young 7 year old me think I had. That is saying something.

#9 – Notorious B.I.G. – Juicy

Oh shit! If you ever feel down and like you can’t make it through, then listen to this song. From rags to riches. The beat is even and old school 80’s throw back. Biggie shines with his patented aggressive approach to rapping, and the phrase “It was all a dream” is perhaps one of the more legendary lines in all of hip-hop.

#8 – T.I. – Rubberband Man

The beat and melody in this song are already catchy enough. Throw in one of the catchiest hip-hop choruses ever and T.I. claiming how he is wilder than the Taliban, and you really can’t go wrong. You can’t catch T.I., that shit just bounce right off him.

#7 – Three 6 Mafia – Body Parts

Probably one of my favorite beats of all time. This was before Three 6 made ridiculously stupid radio friendly rap. This is pretty much gangster rap. This song starts off hard and never really stops. This track actually makes it sound like they mean business! Maybe they did back then. Favorite line-“Hickory dickory dock as I pull out my glock n im ready to pop…BITCH!”

#6 – Del The Funky Homosapien – Catch All This

I had to give Del a spot in this list. The beat is insane. And Del has a trademark voice and style that you just cannot forget. He goes off on this track. While most people rap about women or drugs, he is an awesome throwback to being braggadocios using metaphors and ridiculously awesome rhymes. I dare you to listen to this and not want to listen to it on repeat.

#5 – Clipse – Grindin

I really wanted to rank this higher. Seriously, one of the best beats in any genre…ever. Also, you have Pharrell back when he was on everyone’s album before he was really that famous, you have two dudes going off on the track talking about playground basketball and drug dealing, and then you have the chorus. The chorus is THE epitome of what a hip-hop chorus should be. If you can listen to the chorus without nodding your head, well you were probably decapitated by Three 6 Mafia a few songs earlier.

#4 – NWA – Straight Outta Compton

Before Ice Cube was making kids movies and Dr. Dre was selling high definition headphones, they were singing about gang banging in California. This song is undeniable. One of the earliest gangster rap tracks, and they kill it. Ice Cube sounds like he could probably kick your ass…if he weren’t busy filing Coors Light commercials. Best line almost ever? “Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube, from the gang called Niggaz With Attitudes.” Yeah, you know what is coming when you hear that iconic line.

#3 – TRU – I Always Feel Like

Master P had his hands in a lot of things back in the day. NONE, and I repeat, NONE were better than TRU. Using a hook from a terrible 80’s song, they turn this into an absolute gem and monumental song in hip-hop. The beat is perfectly set, Master P, Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder, and Mia-X paint a perfect picture of selling drugs and doing general gangster shit. Seriously, one listen will make you want to jump right into the dope gang. Well, if somebody wasn’t always watching you.

#2 – Grandmaster Flash – White Lines

I don’t even need to write one damn thing. The bass line, cocaine, the electro beats, and the brass make this simply one of the best songs ever, in any genre. If you don’t agree, well you are probably a Drake fan.

#1 – Cash Money Millionaires – Project Bitch

Lets just set aside for one second that this is THE greatest beat and melody ever laid down in a hip-hop track. Lets look at some highlights of each MC.

Mannie Fresh – “To the ladies havin babies without no drama, to my niggas with figgas say I love my baby momma.”

Lil Wayne – When I come through in a Rolls Royce, leave them with no choice but to hop up in it an just let me make they throat moist.”

Baby – I got a credit card hoe, a scam type hoe, a fraud type hoe
Like to snort that dope, a dick suckin pro
A calico hoe, a real solid bitch out Chicago
I got a (Brat) type bitch like to whine an shit
I got a project bitch like to start some shit”

And of course, Juvenile doing his thing – “My momma send me by my grandma, my grandma flipped out an said we ain’t gone have no evil in this house.”

Pure poetry gold.

So. Agree? Disagree? Who is in your top 10?

Top-101

Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies

With Back-to-School season quickly on the horizon, shoppers all over America will soon reach maximum panic mode.  As hard as it is to believe, the vast majority of parents forget that their children start school every year in August (or September).  Obviously, I’m being exaggeratory.  However, many parents swear school shopping is an emergency and that they must use their “only for emergencies” credit card to get them through this unexpected situation.  Because I generally hate shenanigans, it is time for another great list—Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies:

(1) School Shopping | While we are on the subject of school shopping, let’s park here a bit.  If something happens at the exact same time every single year, then it is not an emergency.  Emergencies by definition are unexpected, catastrophic, and costly.  College-ruled paper obviously does not fit this definition.

(2) Christmas Shopping & Other Gift Shopping | Christmas shopping and birthday shopping are in the same category as school shopping. These occasions happen at the exact same time every year but catch people by surprise way too often.  Even gifts for weddings and baby showers aren’t unexpected—unless you weren’t invited :-/

(3) Automobile Maintenance & Repairs | Not only are oil changes not surprises but there is usually a reminder sticker in your windshield telling you to change your oil after a given mileage or given date.  Other automobile repairs are a bit trickier but not exactly rocket science.  Tires eventually wear out.  So budget a little bit for a new tires every month until you need new tires.  Please use this same strategy for car batteries, brake pads, etc.  If your transmission goes out, then yes, that is an emergency.  Act appropriately.

(4) Brand New Minivan & Other Bad Car Choices | College students (usually with student loan debt) graduate from school and suddenly “need” a new car.  New parents (with student loan debt and maybe new debt now) suddenly “need” a new minivan because their paid-for sedan is too small and uncomfortable for their 8 pound baby.  Automobile purchases are a lot cheaper if you save up ahead of time and buy smart.  I know this.  You know this.  Yet, financing always seems to happen.

(5) Home Renovations | This tends to get the baby boomers more so than millennials, but it affects everyone.  You have a reached some sense of unhappiness and all of a sudden, your kitchen or bathroom just isn’t good enough anymore.  All of a sudden, getting a $50,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC) seems like the smartest thing ever.  It isn’t.

Can you name any faux emergencies that I didn’t mention?

emergency-money-bank2

King of the Point Guard Hill: Part 1 – Methodology & Passing

magic-johnson-statue

You don’t get a statue by being average.

Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Steve Nash (RIP), Jason Kidd, Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, Peewee Kirkland, Pistol Pete, and I really could keep going. Point guard is probably the deepest and most decorated position in the NBA. Whether you enjoy the complete game control of a Magic or the ball dominating scoring machine of a Starbury, point guard has never been a position that was ever lacking talent in the NBA. Bonus points for point guards giving all of us short guys a position to play on the court!

mugsy_bogues

When I first started to compile the data on these guards, I realized just how much talent there is right now in the NBA. Even guards who aren’t at the top of the list in passing could be at the top in scoring, and vice versa. The point guard position is more versatile than it has ever been. Guards are also having to learn to play with the ever increasing number of shooters they have at their disposal, which is truly an amazing thing to watch.

Before we get into the first part, passing, I would like to go over the methodology of how I ranked and compiled this list of point guards. Keep in mind, not all of them will have overwhelmingly great passing stats, but that is because some are scorers.

Pete Maravich

Pistol Pete Maravich. The original playground point guard.

Methodology

When looking at a point guard and passing skills, we cannot simply look at assists and call it a day. This is not 1970, we have advanced data tracking now. The key is knowing how to interpret this data and make it easy to sort out players. Knowing this, I compiled a formula that helps us see who the best floor generals are. I won’t give away my exact formula, but I will give you some bullets explaining myself a little bit.

  • I use both points created per game and points created per 48 minutes. I weighted points created per game a little more heavily, since these points are actually being scored, instead of hypothetically. Although, I tried to give credit to those who may not play heavy minutes, a la Kendall Marshall (weird to see him on here, I know).
  • I counted free throw assists according to the percentage of free throws made.
  • I counted secondary assists according to what an average made shot would be worth, according to points per weighted shot stats.
  • I used all of this to give us a nice number. There is no real average, as these numbers will fluctuate from season to season and I have not evaluated all seasons. Anything approaching a 30 score can be seen as truly elite. 20 would seem to indicate about an average passer for the position, and anything below that is falling into below average range. Again, there is no real average as I have not evaluated all seasons, but these are the trends for this season.
  • It is easier to make it to average (20) than it is to 30 and below 20. So, you either have to be very good or very below average to score further away from this middle point.
  • I will affectionately call this stats….. Actual Passing Score! APS!

Erasing Variable Factors

I wanted to look at this as objectively as possible. Ricky Rubio is surrounded by wildly inefficient shooters (save for my homeboy, Kevin Love. If you missed my article on that, well scroll back a few days!) yet still puts up great passing numbers. Chris Paul puts up great numbers surrounded by 2 elite finishers and 3 elite shooters. I am neither rewarding Rubio for his numbers with less, nor am I punishing Paul for putting up his numbers with great talent surrounding him. The numbers are what the numbers are.

Ricky Rubio

Ricky has almost no one to throw the beauties to…

I did not take into account each teams 3 point or 2 point ability. All shots are weighted equally. Same with the Rubio and Paul situation. No one gets rewarded or punished. The numbers never lie. (Well, maybe sometimes)

I also did not take into account assist opportunities or missed shots that would have been assists. It is great that these players found them, but the shot was not made. This was mainly due to a few reasons: 1) A bad pass could lead to a missed shot, yet they would still get credit for assist opportunity, 2) passing at the last second to a poor shooter is a bad pass that still counts towards an opportunity. I do not have access to all of this data, so I simply left it out in all fairness to everyone.

One last thing. I included some injured players for the sake of including them. Rondo, Bledsoe, and Deron Williams all missed time, but still averaged 5 assists a game and at least 30 games played. Which was my qualifying cut off.

Rajon Rondo rocks iRenew Sports bracelet against the NY Knicks

Rajon was still a bad ass, despite recovering from injury.

So, now that you have an idea what the formula is about and my methodology, lets look at the rankings.

Rankings

Now that I am done rambling and boring everyone to death, lets look at the big board!

  1. Chris Paul – 34.3 APS – LA Clippers
  2. Rajon Rondo – 32 APS – Boston Celtics
  3. Ricky Rubio – 30.4 APS – Minnesota Timberwolves
  4. Kendall Marshall – 29.2 APS – LA Lakers (Now with the Milwaukee Bucks)
  5. John Wall – 29.1 APS – Washington Wizards
  6. Ty Lawson – 28.6 APS – Denver Nuggets
  7. Stephen Curry – 25.9 APS -Golden City Warriors
  8. Russell Westbrook – 25.4 APS – Oklahoma City Thunder
  9. Brandon Jennings – 24.5 APS – Detroit Pistons
  10.  Jeff Teague – 23.9 APS – Atlanta Hawks
  11.  Kyle Lowry –  23.6 APS -Toronto Raptors
  12.  Jameer Nelson – 23.3 APS – Orlando Magic (Now with the Dallas Mavericks)
  13.  Deron Williams – 23.3 APS – Brooklyn Nets
  14.  Michael Carter-Williams – 21.4 APS – Philadelphia 76ers
  15.  Mike Conley – 20.5 APS – Memphis Grizzlies
  16.  Tony Parker – 20.4 APS – San Antonio Spurs
  17.  Isiah Thomas – 19.9 APS – Sacramento Kings (Now with the Phoenix Suns)
  18.  Trey Burke – 19.4 APS – Utah Jazz
  19.  Goran Dragic – 19.1 APS – Phoenix Suns
  20.  Kyrie Irving – 18.9 APS – Cleveland Cavaliers
  21.  Damian Lillard – 18.8 APS -Portland Trailblazers
  22.  Kemba Walker – 18.4 APS – Charlotte Hornets
  23.  Eric Bledsoe – 18.1 APS – Phoenix Suns
  24.  Jose Calderon – 17 APS – Dallas Mavericks (Now with New York Knicks)

chris paul

A young Chris Paul agrees with the rankings.

 

A couple of things to note with this list. The league is extremely deep with point guards. All of these point guards are still better passers than almost all of the league. So even if the 24th best APS is not average for point guards, it is still much higher than most players in the NBA.

Stats

Player Name
Assists Per Game
Passes Leading to Free Throws a Game
Hockey Assists Per Game
Points Created Per Game
Points Created Per 48 Minutes
Actual Passing Score (APS)
Chris Paul
10.7
1.0
2.2
24.5
33.3
34.3 APS
John Wall
8.9
1.0
1.7
21.3
28
29.1 APS
Rajon Rondo
9.8
1.0
1.5
23.0
32.9
32 APS
Ricky Rubio
8.6
1.3
2.0
20.2
30.0
30.4 APS
Kendall Marshall
8.8
0.8
1.3
20.0
33.0
29.2 APS
Ty Lawson
8.8
1.1
1.5
21.0
27.9
28.6 APS
Stephen Curry
8.5
0.5
1.7
19.2
25.1
25.9 APS
Russell Westbrook
6.9
1.0
1.7
16.4
25.4
25.4 APS
Brandon Jennings
7.6
0.9
1.6
17.0
23.7
24.5 APS
Jeff Teague
6.2
0.7
1.6
16.1
23.8
 23.9 APS
Kyle Lowry
7.5
0.7
1.5
17.2
22.6
23.6 APS
Jameer Nelson
7.0
0.9
1.1
16.2
24.1
23.3 APS
Deron Williams
6.1
0.9
1.8
15.1
22.4
23.3 APS
Michael Carter-Williams
6.3
0.6
1.5
14.9
20.7
21.4 APS
Mike Conley
5.9
0.7
1.1
14.9
20.2
20.5 APS
Tony Parker
5.7
0.6
1.7
13.2
19.5
20.4 APS
Isiah Thomas
6.3
0.9
0.9
14.5
19.9
19.9 APS
Trey Burke
5.7
0.6
1.2
13.2
19.5
19.4 APS
Goran Dragic
6.0
0.7
1.1
14.9
20.2
21.4 APS
Kyrie Irving
6.1
0.5
1.0
13.9
18.9
18.9 APS
Damian Lillard
5.6
0.6
1.2
13.5
18.1
18.8 APS
Kemba Walker
6.1
0.6
1.7
14.0
18.7
18.4 APS
Eric Bledsoe
5.5
0.5
0.7
13.2
19.2
18.1 APS
Jose Calderon
4.7
0.4
1.3
10.9
17.1
17 APS

 

Observations and Surprises

Lets just get this out of the way. KENDALL MARSHALL!? WHAT IN THE ABSOLUTE HELL???

Kendall Butter Marshall

Apparently, this was an appropriate nickname.

Alright. That is out of me. Seriously, if you asked me where I would rank Marshall as an eye test, he wouldn’t be anywhere on this list. However, this list is made without bias. So, now that the biggest surprise is out of the way lets look at some of the tiers and then some other general observations.

Top 5

Chris Paul obviously takes the cake here. He just creates more points than anyone else. The high rate of hockey assists shows his true vision. He sees plays before anyone else does, and displays this amply by making the right pass that leads to an assist.

John Wall is a slight surprise. I knew he was great, but I did not know he was this great. If we are going by pure passing, Wall is the best young floor general in the game. His passing is almost on par with Chris Paul. He is a truly elite passer already and he is only getting better.

Ricky Rubio is another I would like to touch on. Rubio sets up his big men. This is shown by the high amount of assist leading to free throws. He makes the correct pass, leading to points in any way he can get them. This is also displayed by his hockey assist numbers. Him and Wall are the true visionaries of the young point guards.

Rounding it out we have Rondo and Lawson. Lawson is surrounded by shooters and has been a nicely kept secret in the league. He uses his drive and dish abilities to create for team mates, and the stats back it up. And what is there to say about Rondo? If you didn’t know he was amazing, you do now. A willing and gifted passer.

John Wall

Wall on the break. 

The Middle Class

Watching Tony Parker you would think he grades out better than this. Tony may not set up his men in position to score, but he does run a very efficient offense. Parker is also a scorer. Often dragging the defense in to initiate an offense that will swing it around until they find a soft spot in the defense.

Michael Carter-Williams graded out better than I would have expected. They run a super fast offense, so lets give him credit for often finding the open man for the score.

For Goran Dragic to be such a great and efficient scorer, his passing is also very nice. Not too amazing or high generating, but he shows a clear understanding of how to run an offense, even if his game is not on point.

Isiah Thomas has a reputation as a me-first gunner. These numbers say something different. Falling almost exactly where I would set the average line, Thomas clearly has more skills than what he gets credit for as a passer.

Tony Parker

Parker has slept with two women in this picture. After he sees my rankings of him, he may come after my woman.

The Bottom Rung

Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Eric Bledsoe. All young guys, all below average passers. The young crop is clearly score first dominated. They do have some ability, but this is not where they bread their butter. Overall, I am a little disappointed by the lack of play making skills by the young guys. Clear difference in play styles from the two studs in the top 5.

Jose Calderon. Oh, boy. I have been singing his praises for years. I even made a special exception for him, knowing he was an incredible floor general who was very undervalued. Judging by the numbers, this is no longer the case.

Kyrie Irving

Pretty much sums up every Kyrie Irving possession.

Extra Notes

  • Rubio and Wall are clearly different players from Lillard, Irving, Bledsoe, and Walker. It will be interesting to see how the scoring evens (or widens) the playing field.
  • The young guys are largely score first. Interesting to see if this trend continues going forward.
  • Vets, unless they are stars, tend to gravitate towards the average. I find this interesting. I look at it as the veterans know how to run an offense, and make the right plays. Average point guard play is very often a good sign. Anything below that 20 mark and things tend to look bad for those teams.
  • Paul, Rubio, Dragic, Deron Williams, and Parker clearly know how to run a break. The hockey assist numbers show a clear vision of when to pass to get a defender off of their target for the extra pass.
  • Westbrook is WAY better of a playmaker than he gets credit for. He is one to keep an eye on as the ranking go forth.
  • Rubio, Wall, Marshall, Westbrook, and Rondo all took hits due to low minutes played. It will be something to watch to see if they can get a larger role to see if those great stats extrapolate out.
  • Stephen Curry is a great passer, no doubt. But lets stop the Steve Nash comparison. He will never pass like that. Still, an incredible passer.

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook may dress like an idiot, but he is a wizard with the ball.

 

Conclusion

Paul, Rubio, Wall, Rondo. Those are the elite passers in the NBA right now. Other guys are good, some even great, but these 4 stand out way above the rest. You want to see more playmaking ability from other younger guys, but we will see if they can make up for it in the scoring analysis. Veteran guys give you exactly what you expect, a steady hand. It is a great time to love point guard play. So watch these guys drop dimes everywhere and I look forward to seeing you back for part 2!