Stories by Andrew Witherspoon

TrueHoop 2020 BPM projections

Data: TrueHoop, Harrison Chase, Anthony Liu/Kensho; Note: "Change" is based on the player's past three years' average BPM; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

In an attempt to predict the 2019-20 NBA season's best players, Axios, TrueHoop and machine learning experts Harrison Chase and Anthony Liu have partnered to present the "2020 BPM projections."

How it works: Chase and Liu built smart models to predict a player's Box Plus-Minus (BPM) — similar to Real Plus-Minus — for the upcoming season.

  • In short, BPM is a measure of a player's performance relative to league average on a per 100 possessions scale. +5 is roughly All-NBA level, 0 is league average, -2 is replacement level, -5 is really bad.
  • For reference, the top 5 players according to BPM last season were James Harden (11.7), Giannis Antetokounmpo (10.8), Nikola Jokic (9.5), Anthony Davis (8.5) and LeBron James (8.1).

Worth noting: "Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell are projected to have career years. Andre Drummond and Draymond Green are expected to have bounce-back years (albeit not career years)," according to Chase and Liu.

  • "Overall though, our model is definitely on the conservative side of things; it will be rare for it to predict any large jumps for players that already have high BPM."

Go deeper: To read more about the methodology, click here.

Baseball's season of extremes

Data: Baseball Reference; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

In the midst of the "Juiced Ball" era, Major League Baseball is on pace for a record number of home runs this season (1.36 per game).

Yes, but: Teams are also striking out more than ever (8.7 per game), which has negatively impacted on-base percentage, the lifeblood of offense.

By the numbers: U.S. incarceration and spending

Data: Prison Policy Initiative, Brookings Institute; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Following decades of a rapidly growing prison population, the percentage of Americans in prison is the lowest it has been in more than 20 years. Still, the U.S. incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country — 655 people for every 100,000 of the population.

The latest: This comes as many cities and states have enacted various criminal justice reform measures to combat mass incarceration. Even Congress passed a bill that eased certain sentencing guidelines and instituted new rehabilitation programs in federal prisons.

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