👋 Good morning! College football's Early Signing Day period runs today through Friday and will see ~80% of the 2020 class sign letters of intent. Here are some names to know.
Today's word count: 1,286 (5 minutes)
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Thanks to long-range specialists like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard, the deep three (aka, a shot from at least three feet beyond the arc) is on the rise in the NBA and has quickly become one of the most influential shots of the decade.
Why it matters: Within a matter of years, the deep three has changed the way NBA games are played — stretching defenses, opening up clear driving lanes and, perhaps most importantly, influencing the next generation.
By the numbers: "Go to an NBA game in 2019 and you're more than twice as likely to see a 27-foot jumper than a 16-footer," writes ESPN's Kirk Goldberry. "In 2013-14, those numbers were complete opposites."
The impact: NBA teams are increasingly taping down makeshift four-point lines on their practice courts to prepare their defenses for players willing to fire from there, while also encouraging better overall spacing habits.
The big picture: "Just as a young Kobe Bryant wanted to be like Mike, the prodigies of today seek to shoot like Curry and Lillard," writes Goldberry. "That means one thing for the future of the NBA: more deep-range splashes."
Go deeper: Three-pointers are leading the sports analytics revolution (Axios)
The Pro Bowl is meaningless, but the selections — which the league released last night — help tell the story of the season, highlighting the NFL's most consistent performers and its most dominant athletes.
King Lamar: MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson — who leads the league in TD passes (33) and ranks eighth in rushing yards (1,103) — received 100,000 more Pro Bowl votes than the next highest player (Russell Wilson). So many kids are going to be unwrapping his jersey in a few days.
“If he gets to 35 to 40 touchdown passes and what he's done running the ball, Lamar has to be in the conversation of the best season by a quarterback. ... How many times can we say a player transcended the way the game is played? He has."— Former MVP Kurt Warner, per ESPN
If it weren't for the 2020 Olympics and the 2020 election, TV advertising sales would be down again next year, according to advertising firm MAGNA, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.
COURCHEVEL, FRANCE — Italy's Federica Brignone (pictured above) won her first women's World Cup giant slalom in more than a year, passing USA's Mikaela Shiffrin for first place in the World Cup Standings.
🎥 Watch: Brignone's winning run (YouTube)
Photo: Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
The semifinal round of the FIFA Club World Cup is currently underway in Doha, Qatar.
How it works: The tournament features the winners of the UEFA Champions League (Europe), Copa Libertadores (South America), CONCACAF Champions League (North America), AFC Champions League (Asia), CAF Champions League (Africa) and OFC Champions League (Oceania).
P.S. ... In related news, the Champions League Round of 16 draw was released on Monday. Here are the pairings for the knockout stage, which begins in February:
🔥 1,172 emojis
LeBron James used 1,172 emojis on Instagram in November (the fire emoji topped the list with 282 uses), per NYT's analysis. "All told, James averaged 26.3 points and 78.1 emojis a game for the Lakers" last month.
👟 2 marathons in 51 days
2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden is running the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in February — and the 2020 Boston Marathon in April. That's two marathons in 51 days. I've run zero in 10,453 days.
🏀 13 straight losses
The Pelicans fell to the Nets in overtime last night, their franchise-worst 13th straight loss. Could head coach Alvin Gentry's time in New Orleans be coming to an end? Will he ever get to coach Zion?
Photo: Vic Stein/Getty Images
70 years ago today, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 14-0, in the 1949 NFL Championship Game.
The backdrop: All-night rain had turned the field into a mud pit — the second straight championship game played under horrible conditions. In 1948, the Eagles won the title in a Philadelphia blizzard. One year later, they faced an L.A. flood.
"The field conditions really were horrible. ... What I remember is covering punts. In '48, the ball would disappear in the snow. In this game, it would actually sink out of sight in the goo."— Eagles guard Duke Maronic, via Golden Football Magazine
Photo: Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images
Yesterday, Fallon Sherrock became the first female darts player to beat a man at the PDC World Championship, the sport's flagship event.
🎥 Watch: Sherrock's match-clinching throw (Twitter)
Penguins star Evgeni Malkin last night became the eighth active NHL player to reach 400 career goals.
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "The Knicks scored 143 points" Baker
Trivia answer: Alexander Ovechkin (679), Patrick Marleau (557), Sidney Crosby (451), Ilya Kovalchuk (436), Eric Staal (429), Joe Thornton (413), Steven Stamkos (406)