The Harden Trade Offers A Window Into Thinking About The Future

How quantifying championship equity can offer a framework for evaluating a blockbuster trade.

Note: This post was primarily written a few days after the Harden trade was consummated.

It finally happened. On Wednesday, the Nets pulled the trigger on a blockbluster four team trade that brought James Harden to Brooklyn at the cost of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs, three unprotected first round draft picks and four unprotected first round pick swaps.

In this post, I want to analyze the implications of this trade from the Nets’ perspective only. A fair warning before I dive in: I will get a bit philosophical here and use this fascinating deal as a stepping stone to introduce a framework I like to use to think about team title potential. And I will fully admit up front that I find this trade exceedingly difficult to evaluate and assign a tidy grade to the Brooklyn front office.

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A Simple Model For Determining How Real the Nets Are

The Brooklyn Nets obliterated the Golden State Warriors in the season opener and then, even more impressively, made minced meat of the Boston Celtics in TD Garden on Christmas Day. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant look happy to be back on the court. As a fan of the team, I’m not unpleased by these developments.

But I have the annoying “How real is this?” rattling around in the back of my head tempering my reaction to any small sample size. I know that weird things can happen over a short time period in the NBA. Outside shooting can ebb and flow as a prime example. The Basketball Gods fan be fickle.

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We Are One Month From The Election. How Accurate Are National Polls?

Election day is now just 30 days away. Democratic nominee Joe Biden currently has an 8 point lead in national polls over Republican nominee Donald Trump, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average. But isn’t one month still plenty of time for a comeback? How safe is Mr. Biden’s lead?

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Pennsylvania and the 2016 Urban vs. Rural Divide

I have been digging into election data recently. Specifically, the MIT Election Lab has a great dataset with the presidential election results of each county since 2000. I paired that data with a 2013 county classification scheme from the NCHS which sorts counties into groups based on how large they are and how close they are to a large metro.

I was interested in where the shifts were from the 2012 to the 2016 election. Where did Democrats lose (and gain) ground? Of course, when you lose about 2 million votes in the popular vote margin, as the Democratic candidate did from 2012 to 2016, you are doing more losing of ground than gaining of ground.

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Where Did The Popular Vote Shift The Most From The 2012 To The 2016 Election?

When it comes to U.S. presidential elections, analysts rightly focus on the Electoral College. After all, this is the system, rather than the popular vote, that determines the winner. But I think there are interesting trends in the popular vote that can be easy to miss if we just look at which states are colored red and blue in the maps we see every four years.

For a moment, let’s focus our attention on raw vote margins. In the 2016 race, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received roughly 2.9 million more votes than Republican candidate Donald Trump. This was a smaller margin than the approximate 5 million vote lead Barack Obama achieved over Mitt Romney in 2012. So we have a 2.1 million shift in the popular vote towards the Republicans that we have to account for between 2012 and 2016. Where did these votes come from?

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