LeBron And Kobe Probably Got A Lot More AllStar Votes Than They

On Thursday, the NBA announced the final results of fan balloting for the 2015 All-Star Game, to be held in New York City on Feb. 15. The fans’ votes determined which players — specifically, two guards and three frontcourt players — will start for each conference. (Reserve selections are made by the league’s head coaches and will be announced next Thursday.)Some of the results were beyond dispute. For instance, Golden State’s Stephen Curry led all NBA players with more than 1.5 million votes, an honor thoroughly befitting the current league leader in Real Plus-Minus (RPM). Others were less supportable; Kobe Bryant garnered more votes than all but three players despite sub-replacement level play this season, while Carmelo Anthony was elected an Eastern Conference starter despite his Knicks’ well-documented awfulness.The fans have a long history of casting votes for big names playing subpar ball, and it’s clear there’s not a perfect relationship between All-Star voting and actual on-court value. To see what kind of link exists between the two, I plotted vote totals against RPM wins above replacement (WAR) for the 50 players whose results were released Thursday. For a sense of how many WAR are generally needed to earn a given number of votes, I also ran a local regression between the two numbers.The relationship between voting and WAR isn’t particularly strong, especially for players with fewer than 5 WAR. Once a player is beyond that territory, it appears he can at least begin to grab voters’ attention with better play. But for players below that threshold, performance can be lost in a sea of other confounding factors.Bearing in mind that rather large caveat, the most underrated player in the sample was the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard; his 7.4 WAR appears to deserve nearly 800,000 votes, but he amassed less than half that. Similarly, Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks was picked on only about 122,000 ballots, despite a WAR total that would seemingly justify over four times as many votes.At the other end of the spectrum, Bryant certainly looks overvalued — his 1.15 million votes were about four times what would be expected from his WAR total. But the player with the biggest disparity between actual and predicted voting this season is Kobe’s old rival LeBron James. James’s 5.5 WAR seems to correlate with about 412,000 votes — roughly the same as what the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler compiled (and deserved) in the balloting — but James’s actual total of 1.47 million beat that prediction by more than a million votes.Here’s each player’s vote total compared to what would be expected based on WAR: read more

James Passes Jordan to Become AllTime Playoff Scoring Leader

The Cleveland Cavaliers pose with their trophy after winning Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)BOSTON (AP) — The NBA Finals has its first “three-match,” courtesy of the King who passed His Airness.LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and another trip to the NBA Finals to meet the Golden State Warriors.Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.Cleveland’s 4-1 series win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise’s first championship.“I wear the number because of Mike,” James said. “I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike, just because of what he was able to accomplish. When you’re watching Michael Jordan, it’s almost like a god. So, I didn’t think I could be Mike.”It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James, who hit a 3-pointer late in in the third quarter to nudge past Jordan on the playoff scoring list. He quickly flashed one finger as he backpedaled down the court.In the postgame trophy presentation backstage, James spent most of it lingering in the background as his teammates celebrated.But there’s no denying that his accolades are putting him in the orbit of Jordan, his boyhood idol.“The biggest thing is I did it just being me, I don’t have to score the ball to make an impact on the basketball game,” James said. “That was my mindset. If I’m not scoring the ball, how can I still make an impact on the game?”As much as this series was about James, Irving helped turn the tide of the series with a 42-point effort in Game 4. But he said both he and his teammates continue to be inspired by their leader.“He’s been the driving force, this entire playoff run, and all of us have just helped us along the way,” Irving said.Coach Tyronn Lue said they’ve gotten tighter this season.“This team is a crazy team. They just stayed resilient all year, got to the playoffs, and we really stepped our game up,” he said. “Now, we can start focusing on Golden State to get ready. As of tonight, I’ll get started.”Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.The Cavaliers basically conceded the East’s top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest their starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them a chance in Game 5.Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed tomahawk dunks.It was a very welcome sight in Irving’s case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland’s Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver helped spread out Boston’s defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.TIP-INSCavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland’s 13 games this postseason. … Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. … The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for a quarter.Celtics: Never led at home in the series. … Finished the playoffs having made at least 10 3-pointers in 16 of their 18 games. … Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing.MAKING PROGRESSThe Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn’t there Thursday night.Celtics coach Brad Stevens said though he’s disappointed with how the season ended, he’s encouraged that no one in Boston’s locker room is satisfied just making it to the conference finals.“I told our guys, ‘We made a lot of great strides, but this pain is part of the path to what we ultimately want to be,’” he said.SHOWING SUPPORTInjured Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was in attendance Thursday night and gathered with his teammates in a huddle before they took the court for pregame warmups.The two-time All-Star was sidelined in Game 2 after aggravating a hip injury. read more

Updated Elo Ratings For World Cup Teams

Although we’re loyal to the Soccer Power Index (SPI), the system  we use to produce FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup projections, we’re also big fans of the World Football Elo Ratings.Unfortunately, the Elo ratings website has not been updated since the World Cup began. So we followed their instructions for calculating their ratings and ran the numbers ourselves:Brazil, as before, ranks as the world’s best team per Elo. But the Netherlands has made huge gains and now ranks No. 2, just ahead of Germany. Spain’s rating has fallen the most, 116 points, taking the team from second to sixth.Elo and SPI are highly correlated and they’ve fared well against other methods of predicting World Cup results so far, including betting lines.

Are The Toronto Raptors Finally Eastern Conference Favorites

By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (April 5, 2018), Neil, Chris and Kyle break down the Eastern Conference ahead of the playoffs.First, the Philadelphia 76ers have clinched a spot, but the team has also lost star center Joel Embiid to injury. Embiid may miss the beginning of the postseason. How will the Sixers function without him?Next, the Toronto Raptors are on track to be the No. 1 seed in the East, but the team’s past several playoff runs have been disappointing. The crew takes a look at why Toronto is playing better this season. Plus, a significant digit on Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers.Here are links to what the podcast discussed this week:Keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.ESPN reported on Embiid’s surgery to fix his fractured orbital bone.Sports Illustrated took a look at how the 76ers are surviving without Embiid.Foreshadowing? The Cavs took down the Raptors on Tuesday.Significant Digit: 8. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Victor Oladipo is on track this season to become the eighth player in the past decade to have a usage rate of 30 percent or higher and a true shooting percentage of 57 percent or higher while 25 years old or younger. read more

How The World Cup Semifinalists Match Up

Source: Football Whispers Argentina0.233.930.69 Australia0.003.730.31 Morocco0.303.951.22 TeamOpponent’s passes per possessionRank TeamOpponent’s passes per possessionRank England is striking gold from the set pieceTeams with the best rate per 90 minutes of shots from set pieces (corner kicks and free kicks) in the World Cup France3.636 teamGOALSSHOTSSHOTS ON GOAL Switzerland0.233.670.46 Source: Football Whispers How England and Croatia match up stylisticallyNumber of per-possession passes (for and against) and where that ranks among World Cup teams Germany0.304.231.51 Croatia3.194 TeamPasses per possessionrank Croatia, which takes on England in the other semifinal, had just a 3 percent pre-tournament chance of winning the tournament and an SPI of 80.4, according to FiveThirtyEight’s predictions. The team is now at 18 percent with an SPI of 82.0, which reiterates the impressive run it’s been on, despite having to ride its luck in two consecutive penalty shootouts. Gareth Southgate’s young England squad, up to 85.2 in SPI, has fulfilled its pre-tournament dark horse expectations, taking advantage of a relatively easy draw to increase the chances of it finally “coming home.”The brutal truth of knockout soccer, though, is that team strength counts for only so much; just ask Spain and Brazil, which went out to Russia and Belgium, respectively. Soccer is a random game, and this is exacerbated in situations where one win carries such importance.Tactics also play a big part. Belgium was lucky in its 2-1 win over Brazil, to the extent that the South Americans had 3.01 expected goals to Belgium’s 0.52. But Roberto Martinez set his side up in a way that was designed to exploit Brazil’s limited weaknesses. Romelu Lukaku — normally the team’s central striker, with four goals already this World Cup — was moved out to the right wing to exploit the space behind Brazil’s marauding left back, Marcelo. Kevin De Bruyne, whom Martinez had underused in a deep midfield role, was shifted to the “false nine” position — in which an attacking midfielder plays nominally as a striker but drops deeper than typical to receive the ball — so that he could receive the ball behind the Brazilian midfielders and launch counterattacks quickly. The Red Devils may have ridden their luck, but they had a plan.In the two semifinals, the stylistic clashes should make for an entertaining spectacle.Belgium vs. France: divergent defendingBelgium and France are both comfortable teams on the ball. They both average more than four passes per possession, according to soccer media and technology company Football Whispers, putting them both in the top third of teams at this World Cup. The Red Devils tend to be slightly more patient, holding the ball for about 1.5 seconds more when they get it than France does, and they switch play from side to side more, with possessions that are wider (in terms of the distance between how far right and left they go) by about 3 yards. England4.3621 TeamPasses per possessionRank Uruguay0.924.601.84 The World Cup in Russia has become one of European dominance. The four teams that remain all hail from the continent: France, Belgium, England and Croatia will be battling in the semifinals Tuesday and Wednesday for a shot at glory in the final Sunday in Moscow. In this World Cup of Upsets, the French are the only consistently successful team left. Croatia and Belgium have never reached the final, while England’s only appearance was in 1966.The first semifinal, France vs. Belgium, features the two strongest teams remaining in the competition, each with a Soccer Power Index rating of 87.5, according to FiveThirtyEight’s model. Belgium’s rating has improved steadily from before the tournament began, when it stood at 85.4, to after the dramatic quarterfinal win against Brazil, the tournament favorite. France, meanwhile, has strolled to the semifinals relatively easily, apart from a dramatic 4-3 victory against Argentina in the round of 16. While Les Bleus’ World Cup average of 1.12 expected goals per 90 minutes is the worst of the remaining teams, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, their 0.67 expected goals conceded per 90 leads the semifinalists and is fourth best in the tournament: Belgium4.689 Spain0.645.341.07 When they don’t have the ball, the two teams behave very differently. Belgium is much more willing to press high up the pitch, taking risks and committing men in the hope of a valuable turnover: They’ve regained the ball in their attacking third 5.2 times per game compared with France’s 2.6, while their possessions start an average of 48.92 yards from their own goal, compared with France’s 47.28 yards.The downside to this sort of pressing, though, is that if the initial Belgian press is broken, its opposition can keep the ball under a lot less pressure and start to probe in attack. Belgium’s opponents have the ball for 2.61 seconds longer on average than France’s opponents do. Belgium’s opponents average well over four passes per possession, whereas Didier Deschamps’ side allows opponents just 3.63 passes, the sixth lowest of all teams in Russia.Martinez will need a characteristically proactive game plan to avoid allowing France the room to counter that Argentina did — speedster Kylian Mbappe needs no second invitation. Martinez will also have to find a replacement for Thomas Meunier — his first choice to play right wing-back, who is suspended for receiving his second yellow card against Brazil — in a squad thin on full-backs. Deschamps will probably avoid tinkering, hoping that his balanced side will frustrate Belgium while relying on individual talent in attack.England vs. Croatia: intense pressing and set playsDespite being blessed with arguably the most talented midfield in the competition, Croatia doesn’t dawdle when it gets on the ball, moving it to the attackers quickly: Croatia has had the fewest passes per possession of the four teams remaining. England, conversely, has had the most. Some of this is because of the quality of opposition each side has faced, but it’s also a fair reflection of their respective directness: Gareth Southgate’s men hold the ball for more than 3 seconds longer when they get it, often using possession as a defensive tactic. England0.865.711.73 From Set Pieces (Per 90 Minutes) How France and Belgium match up stylisticallyNumber of per-possession passes (for and against) and where that ranks among World Cup teams Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group England4.846 Portugal0.693.880.69 Belgium4.3822 Croatia3.8916 Off the ball, both teams implement an aggressive press — but in subtly different ways. England looks to stunt its opposition’s attacks, allowing it to cycle the ball in its own half but not advance much: The Three Lions regain the ball, on average, 54.81 yards away from their own goal, the second highest distance of any team in Russia this summer, but they allow their opponents well more than four passes per possession. Zlatko Dalic’s team, on the other hand, regains the ball in the attacking third just 1.8 times per game compared with England’s 5.6, but Croatia allows its opposition only a little more than three passes per possession, the lowest of any side remaining. In other words, it’s easy to pass into Croatia’s half but difficult to do anything once you get there.The stylistic factor most likely to influence this semifinal matchup, though, is England’s skill when it comes to set plays (corners and free kicks). Southgate has spoken about his focus on them as an opportunity for England to gain an advantage over opponents, with this strategy bearing fruit: England has scored five goals from them already, nearly half of of its total so far. France4.2212 Brazil0.184.231.10 Croatia has conceded only one goal from a set play — Russia’s equalizer in extra time of the quarterfinals. But it has conceded 22 shots from them so far, which is tied for the most in the tournament. This suggests that some luck has been involved — Russia, for instance, gave up the same number of shots from set pieces as Croatia did, but five of those shots resulted in goals against.The game will probably be tense and closed off, with England’s willingness to patiently pass the ball in its own half combined with Croatia’s indifference to pressing high resulting in an overall lack of openness. The beauty of high-stakes knockout stage soccer, though, is that one goal can change everything.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. read more

Buckeye bound Top quarterback recruit Braxton Miller commits to OSU

Ohio State landed what some may consider its best recruit in recent memory.Braxton Miller, the No. 2-ranked quarterback in the country, chose OSU Thursday out of a group of the NCAA’s top football programs that were all hoping to add him to their squad next year.Unlike current starter Terrelle Pryor, Miller was recruited not for his athleticism, but his pure talent at the quarterback position. Miller has made a name for himself in the passing game during his career at Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio.According to Kevin Noon of BuckeyeGrove.com, coming out of a larger school like Wayne should better prepare him for his career at OSU.“He comes out of a strong program and that will give him somewhat of an advantage when he gets to the collegiate level,” Noon said. “Sometimes you have players who come out of systems that are not geared toward the next level, but that is not the case with Miller.”The junior stands at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, but what he lacks in size, he has made up for on the field.Landing the state’s top quarterback will hopefully lead to a domino-effect for the Buckeyes, bringing in other solid wide receivers and players for the 2011 recruiting class.The next target for OSU will likely be Springfield linebacker Trey DePriest, a familiar face for Miller.“They have been friends for a long time and despite playing at different high schools, the lure of playing at the same college could play a factor in DePriest’s decision,” Noon said.With a commitment from Miller, OSU fans will be able to breathe a sigh of relief for the future of their team when Pryor is no longer a Buckeye. read more

Ohio State mens soccer falls to Notre Dame in 2nd round of

OSU sophomore defender Tyler Kidwell (12) battles for possession of the ball with Notre Dame senior forward Vince Cicciarelli (21) during a Nov. 23 game in South Bend, Ind. OSU lost, 2-1. Credit: Kevin Sabitus / The ObserverA valiant effort against the No. 1 seed and defending champions came up short Sunday night, as the Ohio State men’s soccer team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.OSU (9-8-5) battled Notre Dame (12-4-4) for all 90 minutes, but ultimately the firepower of the Fighting Irish was too much for the Buckeyes to handle. OSU outshot Notre Dame, 12-10, but fell by a final score of 2-1 in rain-soaked South Bend, Ind.OSU came out firing, looking to build an early lead against the defending champs. Five different Buckeyes fired the first five shots of the game, including two that came in on Notre Dame redshirt-senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall. The Buckeyes were unable to break through with their early attacks, though.The Fighting Irish did not register their first shot of the game until the 23nd minute, when OSU redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov knocked away a chance with a dive.However, about seven minutes later, it was a penalty kick that put OSU in a 1-0 hole.Junior defender Kyle Culbertson was whistled for a foul in the box, earning him a yellow card and Notre Dame a penalty shot. The penalty was then converted by Notre Dame sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey, for his third goal of the season.Refusing to back down, OSU made sure that deficit did not last long.About three and a half minutes after Notre Dame took the lead, OSU sophomore forward Danny Jensen netted his sixth goal of the season.Jensen received the ball in front of the net off a corner kick from freshman defender Hunter Robertson, and put it past Wall to knot the game at one.OSU appeared to take the lead just before the half with a goal off a free kick, but it was waved off because of a handball. Jensen was then issued a yellow card, and the game went into the break tied at one.For the opening half, OSU outshot Notre Dame, 7-4, controlling the action throughout. Wall made three saves for the Irish, while Ivanov contributed two of his own.OSU continued to control the pace to open the second half, and had two close calls with shots from senior midfielder Yianni Sarris and Culbertson within the first 10:09.However, that trend turned around in the 69th minute, when Notre Dame freshman forward Brandon Gallagher received a through pass and beat the OSU defense and Ivanov, depositing the shot into the far corner of the net to put the Irish up, 2-1.OSU attempted to answer right away, but sophomore forward Christian Soldat’s shot about 90 seconds later was saved by Wall.The Buckeyes tried one last desperate measure to find the equalizer in the final minutes, as OSU coach John Bluem substituted the defender, Robertson, in favor of an extra attacker. Notre Dame clamped down defensively, however, only allowing OSU one shot in the final 10 minutes, despite four OSU corner kicks.Rain poured down throughout the entirety of the contest, with large puddles forming all over the Alumni Stadium pitch.Aubrey’s goal marked the third-consecutive game for the Buckeyes in which a penalty kick broke a tie. On Nov. 14, a late penalty kick won the game for Indiana in the Big Ten semifinals, and Akron went up 1-0 with a penalty kick Thursday.Notre Dame advanced to take on No. 16 seed Virginia with the victory.The loss concluded a successful season for OSU after going 5-8-4 last season. The Buckeyes received an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2010, after being picked to finish last in the Big Ten in the conference’s preseason coaches poll. read more

Womens Basketball No 14 Ohio State clinches outright Big Ten title with

Ohio State senior guard Kelsey Mitchell dribbles the ball during the third quarter of the Buckeyes’ victory against Penn State on Jan. 31. Credit: James King | Sports DirectorJust one month ago, the odds were stacked against the No. 14 Ohio State women’s basketball team. Having lost three-straight games to Michigan, Iowa, and No. 13 Maryland, the Buckeyes sat two games behind the conference-leading Terrapins.But Ohio State took advantage of Maryland’s unexpected three-game losing streak down the stretch and a weak end-of-season schedule to finish the season with eight conference wins in a row, concluding with an 89-64 victory against Penn State on the road Sunday afternoon, to claim the outright Big Ten regular-season championship.The Buckeyes had not claimed sole possession of a regular-season title since 2010. The win against the Nittany Lions (15-14, 6-10 Big Ten) also gives Ohio State (24-6, 13-3 Big Ten) the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. Once again, Ohio State rode its high-scoring trio of guards Kelsey Mitchell and Linnae Harper and forward Stephanie Mavunga to victory. Mitchell led the team with 22 points and the three players combined for 60 points. She added six assists and five rebounds.Mitchell and Mavunga combined for 15 first-quarter points to pull the Buckeyes ahead 23-12 after the opening quarter. Penn State sophomore guard Jaida Travascio-Green hit the first shot of the second quarter, a 3-pointer to pull her team within eight points. But the Nittany Lions fell behind by 10 points after a Mavunga layup less than three minutes later and trailed by double-digits the remainder of the game.Mavunga had a double-double by halftime and finished the game with 21 points and 14 rebounds. She made 9-of-11 shots and helped give her team a 40-28 edge in points in the paint. Harper had 17 points and 10 rebounds. She, along with the rest of her team, shot well from beyond the arc. Harper hit 3-of-4 triples and the Buckeyes combined to shoot 10-for-22 from 3-point range.Junior guard Teniya Page and sophomore guard Jaida Travascio-Green paced the Nittany Lions with 19 and 17 points, respectively. Travascio-Green made 6-of-11 shots, but the team overall struggled to knock down shots and combined to shoot 38 percent from the field. The Buckeyes, who start four guards and just one post player, have been haunted by rebounding issues the entire season. But they cleaned up on the class, holding a 48-29 rebound advantage against Penn State, which had the worst rebounding margin in the conference entering the game. Ohio State had more offensive rebounds (18) than the Nittany Lions had defensive rebounds (17).Ohio State’s win sweeps the season series against Penn State. The Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions 94-64 at home on Jan. 31.Ohio State will begin Big Ten tournament play at noon Friday. Its opponent will be the winner of Thursday’s game pitting the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds against each other. Purdue is the eighth seed, but the ninth seed has yet to be determined. read more

Police officer criticised for taking a selfie during M5 tailback

first_imgThousands of cars, caravans and lorries were stuck on the M5Credit:FameFlynet.uk.com Thousands of cars, caravans and lorries were stuck on the M5 Well it’s been going too well for too long.Busy RTC day. Apologies for any offenceNone meanthttps://t.co/1NIwyOU92g— Sgt Harry Tangye (@DC_ARVSgt) August 25, 2016 Officers negotiated with the 25-year-old woman for several hours, causing a massive tailback as families tried to get away for the Bank Holiday weekend.After she was brought to safety, Sgt Tangye tweeted: “Sorry guys and girls, someone threatening to jump off bridge, but now off and traffic moving” with a picture of himself in front of the queue of cars. His message was considered insensitive by some, with Ross Honnor asking: “You were that concerned with the situation you thought that a selfie would help?”Sgt Tangye later said: “Apologies for any offence. None meant.” Others tweeted their support for Sgt Tangye, with one woman writing: “Never apologise for what you do Harry, you make a difference in this topsy-turvy world.”Avon and Somerset Police said the woman was “safe and well” but was arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance. A police officer was criticised for taking a ‘selfie’ and tweeting “sorry guys and girls” while at the scene of a 19-mile long tailback on the M5 caused by a woman who tried to take her own life.Sergeant Harry Tangye, from Devon and Cornwall Police, was called to the motorway after a woman threatened to throw herself from a bridge near Wellington in Somerset. Sorry guys and girls, someone threatening to jump off bridge, but now off and traffic moving. Take time to clear pic.twitter.com/oiugBitaao— Sgt Harry Tangye (@DC_ARVSgt) August 25, 2016 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Death of the doorstop Man Booker Prize unveils short shortlist as judges

first_imgThe judges: Olivia Williams, David Harsent, Amanda Foreman, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Jon Day When asked about the lack of household names on the list, she added: “We don’t go out of our way to do down established writers or burden them with extra expectations in favour of new writing.“But we do recognise courage and willingness to take risks.”Among the favourites to win the 2016 Man Booker Prize is His Bloody Project, the story of a murder in a 19th century Scottish crofting community published by tiny, two-man independent press Saraband.It will go up against The Sellout, a searing, expletive-filled take on US race  relations hailed by judges as “taking political correctness hostage” with a plot they were “hesitant to summarise now, so toxic are the taboos he explodes”. All That Man Is explores the notion of 21st cenutry masculinity through a series of interlinking short stories This year’s £50,000 prize will be drawn from a shortlist starring Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk, Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project ,Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, David Szalay’s All That Man Is and Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.Levy, arguably the most famous name on the shortlist after J M Coetzee and AL Kennedy failed to progress from the longlist, offers the shortest work at 220 pages.“Usually the tendency is the opposite,” said Jon Day, a writer, academic and one of the prize judges. “EM Forster said we tend to overpraise a book if it’s long, because we got through it.“You could argue there’s a commitment to quality [here] demonstrated by the fact we haven’t been swayed by the doorstopper.” Judges insisted the six novels were not unrelentingly bleak or full of unsympathetic characters, claiming books including The Sellout had also left them laughing out loud.In the third year the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, two of the six remaining novels are by British authors, with two from the US, one from Canada and one with the dual citizenship of Canada-UK. Hilary Mantel, who has won the Booker twice with her Tudor tomes As Britain’s most prestigious book prize, the Man Booker shortlist can prove a noble yet daunting list for readers to plough through each autumn.This year, fans of the prize may heave a sigh of relief as judges announce the shortest shortlisted books in years, proclaiming they are no longer unduly impressed by “doorstoppers”.The Man Booker shortlist this year comprises of six books, with an average 335 pages between them.Only two other years this century have offered  fewer pages, with recent winners including Eleanor Catton’s 832-page The Luminaries and Hilary Mantel’s 672-page Wolf Hall. The judges: Olivia Williams, David Harsent, Amanda Foreman, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Jon DayCredit:Mark Cocksedge At 220 pages, this is 2016's shortest Booker bookcenter_img Forster wrote in Aspects of the Novel: “Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wishes to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.”Judges disclosed far longer books had been among the 155 submitted for the prize, with a “run of three or four books over 800 pages each” at one stage of their reading list.Amanda Foreman, chairman of the jury, said: “Everyone in publishing and writing thinks about this, about length.“Is our ability to sustain concentration over a length of time is being diminished because of the internet and the electronic age?“It’s a very important question and it’s ongoing, but it simply can’t be decided on the basis of this shortlist. The question is still up for grabs.” Commenting on the shortlist, an expert from Foyles praised the “recent Man Booker trend towards new faces”, while Waterstones remarked on the “intriguing and refreshing list”.Ladbrokes placed Graeme Macrae Burnet favourite to win, while William Hill plumped for Deborah Levy.The winner will be announced on October 25 at a black tie ceremony in London’s Guildhall.  Hilary Mantel, who has won the Booker twice with her Tudor tomes All That Man Is explores the notion of 21st cenutry masculinity through a series of interlinking short stories All That Man Is, an exploration of modern masculinity, may raise eyebrows for its form, appearing to be a series of short stories threaded together with “clear-eyed chronicle” of manhood and Europe.Hot Milk tells the story of “the toxic waste produced by damaging parents”, while Eileen focuses on a woman in “captivity” and Do Not Say We Have Nothing stars a woman tracking the history of her Chinese musician father who committed suicide. At 220 pages, this is 2016’s shortest Booker book Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more