Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes news of the European Parliament’s overwhelming rejection of a proposal that would allow individual European Union (EU) member states to opt-out of importing and using foods containing biotechnology for non-scientific reasons. The body voted 619-58 to approve a committee report recommending opposition to the controversial “opt-out” proposal.“This is a much-needed action today by the European Parliament. ASA has repeatedly called on the EU to make science-based decisions on the issue of biotechnology, and we are very happy to see the Europeans do so this morning. One of the unifying principles of the EU is to provide a single market, both within Europe and as a partner in in global commerce. Enabling each of its 28 member states to go rogue on GMO acceptance, based on societal or political concerns, is hardly a unifying strategy for success,” said Wade Cowan, ASA president. “Soybean farmers welcome today’s news as we look to expand our European markets for animal feed, edible oils, biodiesel and biobased products. Europe is a top-five market for American soybeans, and we looking forward to further expanding our trade relationship. Moving forward, the Commission has been directed by the EU Parliament to come up with a new proposal. However, in our view, it would be more appropriate for the EU to use its own existing procedures to approve new biotech products rather than trying to come up with another approach. The Commission just needs to do its job by following its own regulations and procedures.”
A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#start#tips audrey watters 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting As one of the leaders in the group-buying space, LivingSocial has had a great year, ending the year with $175 million in investment from Amazon earlier this month. But like many success stories, LivingSocial didn’t suddenly spring up wholly formed. Indeed, the company has had to pivot several times before landing on their current form – and success.In the video below, LivingSocial co-founder and CTO Aaron Batalion talks about the company’s previous manifestations – consultants, Facebook app developers, and so on – and the principles that helped motivate the company to change direction like this.In 2009, LivingSocial acquired BuyYourFriendADrink, a company that ran on- and offline promotions that brought customers into bars for beverage companies’ product launches. One of the salespeople, walking from bar to bar to try to sell them on the product, recognized that there are other businesses that had similar needs. And so LivingSocial pivoted into the group-buying and daily deals space. Batalion speaks of “not being satiated” and so always being ready to change directions if need be. He stresses “lean startup” principles, quick iteration, and intre-preneurial rule (support the people inside your startup that have “really killer ideas”).The talk below was given at the Tech Cocktail Startup Mixology conference in October. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams became the oldest semi-finalist in US Open history at age 37 by defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6–3, 3–6, 7–6 (7/2).US ninth seed Williams, seeking her third US Open crown, advanced to a Thursday matchup for a spot in Saturday’s final against 83rd–ranked compatriot Sloane Stephens.Stephens, who missed 11 months with a left foot injury before returning at Wimbledon, matched her best Grand Slam showing by outlasting Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6–3, 3–6, 7–6 (7/4).Williams, who improved to 2–4 all-time against the Czech 13th seed, will return to the world top five for the first time since January 2011 after dominating the tie-break.“I’m so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire,” Williams said. “I try to tell myself enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that.”Williams, the oldest Slam semi–finalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994, won the 2000 and 2001 US crowns. She was runner–up this year at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and could reach three Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2002.Kvitova battled back from a five-month absence after a knife-wielding home intruder injured her left hand last December.Williams swatted a backhand winner to break for a 5–3 edge and held to take the first set but Kvitova led 3–0 when rain forced a closure of the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof.Kvitova fought off two break points in the fifth and seventh games to hold on the way to a third set, then broke to lead 2–1 only to double fault away a break to set up the tie-breaker.If Americans Madison Keys and CoCo Vanderweghe win Wednesday, they will produce the first all-American US Open semi-finals since 1981. “That would be huge,” Williams said, adding, “I’d love that.”“This is amazing,” Stephens said. “I hope there are four Americans in the semi-finals,” she said.Stephens has won 13 of her past 15 matches and matched her 2013 Australian Open semi-final run for best Slam effort. “This is just incredible,” Stephens said. “When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could never have dreamed of coming back and having these results. It’s indescribable.”‘I’m not a robot. Sorry.’Sevastova, who matched her best major run from last year at New York by ousting Maria Sharapova to reach the last eight, led 3–1 in the third set before Stephens rallied.“I just told myself to keep fighting and stay consistent,” Stephens said. “I knew if I just stick with it and stayed in every point I’d have my opportunity and I did. I was able to play loose and bam, here we are,” she said.In the tie-breaker, Stephens took four of the last five points, three on Sevastova errors before hitting a down-the-line backhand winner ensured her win to reach the top 35 in next week’s rankings.Sevastova admitted nerves got to her in the tie-breaker, saying, “It’s normal. You play for semi-finals of US Open. I’m not a robot. Sorry.”Czech reigning number one Karolina Pliskova, last year’s US Open runner-up, must reach the final or lose the top spot to already-ousted Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion.Men’s resultsSpanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who has not dropped a set, cruised into his first Grand Slam semi-final by defeating Argentine 29th seed Diego Schartzman 6–4, 6–4, 6–2.Carreno Busta, the first player to face four qualifiers in any Grand Slam, booked a Friday semi-final against the later winner between South African 28th seed Kevin Anderson and 17th seeded American Sam Querrey.“Incredible,” Carreno Busta said. “It’s something that I always dreamed about but something I never thought I was going to arrive here. It’s a great feeling.” Venus Williams US Open 2017 Venus Williams US Open 2017 COMMENTS September 06, 2017 COMMENT SHARE SHARE EMAIL × tennis SHARE Published on
Sportscover is currently accepting applications for its 2013 Sportscover Sponsorship Fund (SSF).$750 grants are available and will be handed out over two rounds, with the first round currently open until Monday, 15 July. The grant is available to all amateur sporting clubs, associations and affiliates. Applicants must be able to provide Sportscover with an interview as well as a photo of the grant being used.The second round will run from Thursday, 1 August until Tuesday, 15 October. A number of grants will be awarded throughout both rounds.To apply for the Sportscover Sponsorship Fund or to view more details, visit http://www.sportscover.com/ssf/. Related LinksSportscover Sponsorship
German cruise line TUI Cruises took delivery of New Mein Schiff 2, a next-generation cruise ship, in Kiel on January 22, 2019.Built at Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland, the ship was transferred to Kiel at the beginning of January for the final equipment due to icy weather in the Turku archipelago.The 111,500-ton newbuild is a sister ship to New Mein Schiff 1, delivered to the cruise company in April last year. Featuring a length of 315 meters and a width of 36 meters, New Mein Schiff 2 can accommodate 2,894 passengers and 1,092 crew onboard.“The commissioning of our new Mein Schiff 2 marks the successful end of our first expansion phase. Our sixth newbuild by Meyer Turku not only impresses with its design, its inner values are equally convincing: With the use of modern technologies we are setting standards for environmental protection,” Wybcke Meier, TUI Cruises CEO commented.With New Mein Schiff 2, Meyer Turku and TUI Cruises have further improved and refreshed the design of the ship.“For us it has been a thrill working with TUI Cruises on the design and construction of this ship. We have redesigned many of the areas of the ship, e.g. the Schau Bar and the restaurant area in front of the aft diamond structure,” Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku, said.The New Mein Schiff 2, which flies the flag of Malta, will be christened in Lisbon on February 9, 2019. The ship will be baptized during its maiden voyage between Bremerhaven and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, with calls in La Coruña, Leixões, Lisbon, Cadiz and Arrecife.Take a closer look at the New Mein Schiff 2 in the video below:Due to the commissioning of the new ship, the previous Mein Schiff 2 was renamed Mein Schiff Herz this January. From February to March, the 77,302-ton vessel will undergo a dry dock overhaul in Marseille, France, TUI Cruises said.The 1997-built cruise ship will continue to be part of the TUI Cruises’ fleet until April 2022 when it will be handed over to the TUI’s UK’s subsidiary Marella Cruises.Image Courtesy: Meyer Turku; Video Courtesy: Unimedien
TORONTO – Maxar Technologies Ltd. stock plunged Tuesday after the formerly-named MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates was targeted by a analyst report from an acknowledged short-seller firm.The company’s shares ended down $7.59 or 13.15 per cent at $50.14 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after Spruce Point Capital Management issued a press release that warned, among other things, that Maxar’s dividend is at risk.Spruce Point also set an intermediate price target for Maxar stock in the range of US$20 to US$25 per share — about half of Maxar’s previous 52-week low of US$42.11 on the New York Stock Exchange.Maxar said Spruce Point’s report contains a number of inaccurate claims and misleading statements.“Maxar believes it is a direct attempt by a short-seller to profit, at the expense of Maxar shareholders, by manipulating Maxar’s stock price,” the company said in a statement.A decline in stock prices tends to benefit short sellers that plan to buy the shares after they’ve fallen.Maxar stock had already fallen every trading day since the space technology company reported second-quarter financial results on July 31.However, 10 out of 11 analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters Eikon rated Maxar a “buy” or “strong buy” on Tuesday and none rated it a “sell” or “strong sell. The mid-point of their estimates was C$62.32.Short-selling is a normal technique used by investment managers and some active individual traders but it is uncommon for firms to issue press releases to draw attention to their analysis.Previous campaigns by other short-sellers have drawn attention to significant problems at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, now renamed Bausch Health Companies Inc., and Sino-Forest Corp.Spruce Point Capital said Maxar may generate US$50 million or less of free cash flow in 2018, after interest expenses and capital spending, leaving “little room” for its US$68 million per year of dividend payments.It also said MacDonald Dettwiler’s acquisition of Space Systems Loral in 2012, and DigitalGlobe in 2017, were poorly timed and executed.MDA — known for providing equipment to the International Space Station, U.S. Space Shuttle program and the Canadian government — changed its name to Maxar last October as part of its DigitalGlobe deal.Companies in this story: (TSX:MAXR)
New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday said Article 35A, which restricts non-permanent residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, is “constitutionally vulnerable” and also hampering economic development of the state.The statement comes amidst the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pressing for early elections to the state assembly in the state. The state is under President’s rule and the Union Cabinet takes all policy decisions related to the militancy-hit state. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’In a blog, Jaitley said the seven-decade history of the state of Jammu and Kashmir confronts changing India with several questions. “Was the Nehruvian course, which the state had embarked, a historical blunder or was it the correct course to follow? Most Indians today believe that it is the former. “Does our policy today have to be guided by that erroneous vision or an out of box thinking which is in consonance with ground reality?” Jaitley questioned. The senior BJP leader and in-charge of the party’s campaign committee for general elections said Article 35A was “surreptitiously” included by a presidential notification in the Constitution in 1954. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KArtcle 35A, he said, was neither a part of the original Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly, nor did it come as a Constitutional Amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution which requires an approval by two-third majority of both Houses of Parliament. “It came as a presidential notification and is a surreptitious executive insertion in the Constitution.” Jaitley further said the Article gives the right to the state government to discriminate between two state citizens living in the state on the basis of declaring some as permanent residents while leaving out the others. It also discriminates between permanent residents of the state and all other Indian citizens living elsewhere, he added. “Lakhs of Indian citizens in J&K vote in Lok Sabha elections but not in Assembly, municipal or Panchayat polls. Their children cannot get government jobs. They cannot own property and their children cannot get admitted to governmental institutions. “The same applies to those who live elsewhere in the country. The heirs of ladies marrying outside the state are disinherited from owing or inheriting property,” the minister added. He said the state does not have adequate financial resources and its ability to raise more has been crippled by Article 35A.
New Delhi: Amidst ongoing crucial fifth phase of Lok Sabha poll, Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhle would undertake a quiet visit to neighbouring Bangladesh on May 6 for an official visit.However, the official reason for this visit has not been explained by the External Affairs Ministry, but sources in the government indicated that at the time when the whole political class is busy in election campaigning, the secretary has chosen this time for reviewing the bilateral relationship with several countries and preparing a road map for taking it to the next higher level. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghEven a visit by the newly elected Prime Minister of the country to Dhaka is not ruled out. Foreign Secretary made his maiden Dhaka visit in April last. Though South Block officials are busy with upcoming G-20 Summit to be held from June 22 to 24 in Osaka, Japan, it would be the first official visit of the newly elected PM abroad to a multilateral forum. Foreign Secretary already made a visit to Beijing recently and prepared a groundwork for a sideline meeting with the PM and President Xi Jinping. Most of the countries’ head of the government and state would be travelling there. Meanwhile, a lot of curiosity has been generated for Foreign Secretary’s proposed visit to Dhaka for three days. During the course of election campaigning, top BJP leaders made Bangladesh a huge political issue which has already created ripple among the intelligentsia of Dhaka. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadHowever, the Hasina government is deliberately downplaying the high pitch campaign of BJP leaders against so-called Bangladeshi infiltration and the language used during the campaign hurting the sentiments of the people. Sources in the Bangladesh Ministry confirmed that this time they might seek some official clarifications on this issue. They say that India never raised these issues during the official level talks. Rather PM Modi always reiterated for maintaining a good relationship with a most trusted neighbour of India and boasts even in the international platform that India and Bangladesh relation is a model for relationship for all the neighbouring countries of all the countries. Foreign Secretary is not only meeting his counterpart Sahidul Haq, but he would also meet PM Sheikh Hasina during his visit. FS will also have a meeting with the Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momin. Notably, in the year 2020, Bangladesh will be celebrating the centenary year of Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a big way. The celebration began this year and former President Pranab Mukherjee was invited for the inaugural function.
Salé – Bouchra Hajij was elected president of the Moroccan Royal Federation of Volley Ball (FRMVB) during the elective general assembly held on Sunday at the royal institute of training for sports and youth executives.Hajij, the only one to stand as a candidate, was unanimously elected for a four-year mandate (2014-2018) in substitution for Mohamed Aziz Benchekroun who did not finish his mandate (2012-2013).Bouchra Hajij becomes the first women to lead the Moroccan Federation for Collective Sports.
2000LakersO’Neal10.0Bryant5.0Horry2.5 1987LakersJohnson8.2Abdul-Jabbar2.2Worthy2.0 This makes for a fairly intuitive list. LeBron, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are the league’s six Alphas. Chris Paul falls just short of the Alpha category; instead, he joins players such as Hayward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis on the Beta list. Gammas include players like Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, John Wall, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap.So then all you need is an Alpha, a Beta and a Gamma and — presto! — you win an NBA championship? Actually, your options are more flexible than that. A team with an Alpha and a Beta — say, this year’s Houston Rockets — could probably skip the Gamma if they had a deep rotation. A team with no Alphas but three Betas — say, Jimmy Butler, Antetokounmpo and Kyle Lowry — would more than likely be good enough to contend for a title. A team with a very strong Alpha could go without a Beta and make up for it with two or more Gammas instead — that’s sort of how the current Cavaliers are constructed.To help teams think through these decisions, let’s invent one more statistic, which I’ll call star points. The formula is simple: A team gets three star points for each Alpha on its roster, two for each Beta, and one for each Gamma. Next year’s Warriors project to have 9 star points, for example: three each for Curry and Durant, two for Draymond Green and one for Klay Thompson.Even having that much talent on your roster doesn’t necessarily guarantee a title. But historically, a team’s chances of winning a title are remote if it has four or fewer star points. It has a fighting chance with five or six star points, depending on how the rest of the roster is constructed. And its probability increases rapidly once it acquires seven or more star points. 725832.0– 216721.2– 1992BullsJordan8.7Grant5.7Pippen5.6 1986CelticsBird7.7McHale5.4Parish2.5 Rudy Gobert3.6Kevin Love2.4 2016CavaliersJames8.9Love3.2Irving2.1 2013HeatJames10.6Wade5.8Bosh1.2 1993BullsJordan9.4Pippen3.6Grant2.7 LeBron James7.0G. Antetokounmpo5.2John Wall3.0 114700.0 To no one’s surprise, the best players on title-winning teams are usually extraordinary talents. Among the 33 NBA champions since 1985, the top-rated player on the team, according to CPM, was one of the three best players in the league that season on 23 occasions. And the team’s best player was among the top 10 in the league on all but three occasions. The exceptions were Bill Laimbeer of the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Pistons (CPM, perhaps dubiously, rates Laimbeer ahead of his teammate, the other Isiah Thomas) and Ben Wallace of the 2003-04 Pistons. Pretty much all the other No. 1 players are current or future Hall of Famers, however, with the possible exception of Manu Ginobili, who may be a borderline case.No matter how brightly he shines, however, a superstar usually can’t deliver a title without a good sidekick or two.6Take LeBron James’s 2012-13 season, for example, when he had a CPM of +10.6 and played almost 38 minutes per game — about as good as an NBA player can be under modern conditions. A team with that version of LeBron, plus a roster full of replacement-level players, would still project to go only 41-41, according to our forecasting method. A team with that version of LeBron plus a roster full of league-average players (as opposed to replacement-level players) would project to go 59-23, which is closer to being a title contender. League-average players don’t just grow on trees, however. On average, the second-best player on these championship teams was the 14th-best player in the league, according to CPM. And although not every champ had a classic “Big Three” like LeBron James’s Miami Heat, the third-best player on the championship team rated as the 37th-best player in the league, on average — still very solid.So let’s get back to the idea of Alpha, Beta and Gamma players, which were meant to correspond to a typical championship team’s best, second-best and third-best players. By looking at the historical data, we can define these classifications as follows:An Alpha has a CPM of +6.0 or higher.A Beta has a CPM of between +3.5 and +6.0.And a Gamma has a CPM of between +2.0 and +3.5.I re-ran CARMELO using CPM instead of its usual blend of statistics, and it projected the following players to be Alphas, Betas and Gammas for the upcoming NBA season: 410321.9– 2008CelticsGarnett7.8Pierce4.5Allen2.8 2005SpursDuncan7.5Ginobili7.1Barry1.9 Kawhi Leonard6.8Anthony Davis4.3Paul George2.9 CONSENSUS PLUS-MINUS 2002LakersO’Neal8.4Bryant4.7Horry1.9 ALPHASBETASGAMMAS 1990PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman2.6Thomas1.7 STAR POINTSTEAMSCHAMPIONSCHAMPIONSHIP PROBABILITY Victor Oladipo2.1 1996BullsJordan9.4Pippen5.6Kukoc4.6 1997BullsJordan7.7Pippen5.5Kukoc4.1 2006HeatWade8.0O’Neal5.2Mourning2.4 1994RocketsOlajuwon5.8Horry1.9Thorpe1.6 314342.8– Kevin Durant6.7Karl-Anthony Towns4.1Mike Conley2.9 2011MavericksNowitzki4.9Chandler2.8Kidd1.9 2015WarriorsCurry9.9Green4.4Thompson4.3 1989PistonsLaimbeer3.8Rodman3.1Johnson1.3 DeMarcus Cousins4.1Isaiah Thomas2.8 1991BullsJordan10.9Pippen4.9Grant3.6 Draymond Green3.8Kyrie Irving2.8 1985LakersJohnson5.6Abdul-Jabbar5.3Worthy1.6 CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating.* Player was acquired midseason. His +/- total reflects performance for entire season, and not just for the acquiring club. 642614.3– Star points: 3 points per Alpha player, 2 points per Beta player, and 1 point per Gamma player. Table includes all teams since the 1984-85 season. 2009LakersBryant6.0Gasol3.6Odom3.0 2004PistonsB. Wallace4.3Billups3.8R. Wallace*1.7 How good were the best players on recent NBA champions?Player ratings based on Consensus Plus-Minus (CPM) Blake Griffin3.7Otto Porter Jr.2.5 8 or more13430.8– 2010LakersBryant4.5Gasol3.7Odom2.2 1995RocketsDrexler*6.1Olajuwon5.7Smith1.0 1998BullsJordan6.0Pippen5.0Kukoc2.5 1999SpursRobinson6.9Duncan5.2Elie2.8 YEARTEAMNO. 1 PLAYER+/-NO. 2 PLAYER+/-NO. 3 PLAYER+/- Hassan Whiteside2.0 Kyle Lowry3.7Paul Millsap2.6 James Harden7.4Jimmy Butler5.5Bradley Beal3.2 Gordon Hayward3.8DeAndre Jordan2.7 Who are the NBA’s championship-caliber players?Projections based on Consensus Plus-Minus for 2017-18 57479.5– Klay Thompson2.1 CPM reflects a combination of Real Plus-Minus, Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating CJ McCollum2.1 Russell Westbrook8.2Chris Paul5.9Damian Lillard3.3 Average18.104.22.168 2003SpursDuncan7.5Robinson3.8Ginobili1.1 1988LakersJohnson5.2Scott3.1Worthy1.9 Kemba Walker2.2 021600.0% 2017WarriorsDurant8.3Curry6.7Green3.7 2012HeatJames10.8Wade7.5Bosh1.7 2001LakersO’Neal8.9Bryant4.8Fox0.6 2007SpursGinobili7.2Duncan6.6Parker3.4 PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/-PLAYER+/- Stephen Curry7.0Nikola Jokic4.8DeMar DeRozan3.0 2014SpursGinobili4.8Leonard4.8Mills3.2 How much star power does an NBA team need?Probability of team winning a championship based on star points The Boston Celtics, after whiffing on trades for Jimmy Butler and Paul George, finally got some good news this week when Gordon Hayward announced that he was leaving the Utah Jazz to play for the Celtics. Although Isaiah Thomas would have some beef with this assessment, Hayward’s well-rounded combination of skills will probably make him the best player on the Celtics next year. He’s a good fit with the team’s approach.And yet, projection systems (including our own CARMELO) are somewhat skeptical of the Celtics, not expecting them to improve on last year’s 53-29 performance or to seriously challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy. Hayward is also fairly expensive; he’ll cost the Celtics $128 million over four years (the fourth season, 2020-21, is a player option). So let’s ask a tough question of Boston and general manager Danny Ainge: If Hayward is the best player on your team, could that team plausibly be good enough to win a championship?The answer is probably not. Hayward made the All-Star team last season, but he’s a long way from being a superstar. A handful of modern NBA teams — the 1988-89 and 1989-90 Detroit Pistons, the 2003-04 Pistons, and the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs — won a title with someone about as good as Hayward as their best player. But this is unusual: It requires a team to be constructed almost perfectly, with above-average players at nearly every position, a deep bench, and a cohesive rotation. It sometimes also requires a fair amount of luck.1The “Bad Boys” Pistons peaked just as the 1980s Celtics and Lakers were declining, but before Michael Jordan’s Bulls really took off, for example.But Hayward can be a building block toward a championship. He’s roughly as good as the second-best player on a typical championship team. That might sound like faint praise, but it’s no small achievement.Let’s develop some terminology to describe degrees of the stardom in the NBA. I’ll introduce three types of players: Alphas, Betas and Gammas.An Alpha is a player who’s as good as the best player on a typical championship-winning team. This is an MVP contender — one of the half-dozen best players in the league.A Beta is as good as the second-best player on a typical NBA champion. As I mentioned, Hayward is a good example of a Beta. Betas are usually All-Stars, perhaps even All-Star starters, and they’re among the best players at their position. But they’re not among the very best players in the league.And a Gamma is good as third-best player on a typical championship team. A Gamma might be an All-Star, but he usually won’t make one of the three All-NBA teams. He probably has one or two weaknesses (defense, shooting, etc.) along with his obvious strengths. But he’s still a very good player and might be the best player on a non-contending team. Thomas, although he’s somewhat difficult to evaluate because of his defense — various statistical systems rate it anywhere from mediocre to execrable2There’s a big difference between mediocre and execrable. If Thomas’s defense is merely somewhat below average, as the NBA’s opponents’ shooting data suggests, then his offense more than makes up for it and he’d probably qualify as a Beta. If it’s terrible, as RPM suggests, then Thomas is barely even an above-average player overall. Classifying Thomas as a Gamma, as CPM does, is something of a compromise between these assessments. — is a reasonably good example of a Gamma.At any given time, only a few dozen players in the league will rated as Alphas, Betas or Gammas. (CARMELO projects that there will be 35 of them in 2017-18, for example.) It’s these players who determine who competes for NBA championships. Doesn’t depth matter also? Well, sure. A well-rounded roster is often the difference between winning a title and losing one. But a team needs its share of star-level talent to compete for a championship in the first place. Otherwise, it’ll usually wind up like last year’s Celtics, a well-constructed team that was overmatched in the playoffs.Below, you’ll find a table listing the top three players on NBA championship teams since 1984-85 — the first year the league used a salary cap — as rated by a statistic called Consensus Plus-Minus. Consensus Plus-Minus, or CPM, is a statistic I use when I don’t want to get into arguments about the value of individual players. It reflects a combination of four popular statistics — Real Plus-Minus,3RPM is available from the 2000-01 season onward. For seasons prior to 2000-01, I use BPM twice in the average. Box Plus/Minus, Win Shares and player efficiency rating — equally weighted and translated to the same scale. It also adjusts for the player’s position, which the other metrics do not,4CPM measures a player’s value relative to the positional average, rather than relative to the league average. Right now, there’s an excess of good centers and point guards but less depth among small forwards and shooting guards. This adjustment helps Hayward, who plays both those positions. and it regresses players’ ratings to replacement level if they fall below a certain threshold of playing time.5If the player plays less than 20 minutes per team game — or 1640 minutes over an 82-game season — his actual CPM is blended with a replacement-level CPM of -2 points per 100 possessions. For predictive purposes, we think CPM is liable to be slightly less accurate than the blend of statistics CARMELO uses (a combination of RPM and BPM), but CPM is still a perfectly reasonable stat and much more in line with the consensus view of NBA players. Like BPM and RPM, CPM is expressed in net points added or subtracted per 100 possessions. So a player with a CPM of +2.5, teamed with four average players, would help his team to outscore his opponents by 2.5 points per 100 possessions, for example. This system isn’t perfect, but it lines up intuitively with how we evaluate teams. After the Warriors and their nine projected star points next season, the Cavaliers and Rockets are the closest thing the league has to ready-made title contenders, as they’re tied for second at five star points each. They’re followed by the Thunder, Timberwolves and Pelicans at four each; these four-point teams probably need at least one more thing to click (say, George taking the next step in Oklahoma City) to be title-worthy. The Celtics are one of several teams with three star points.This measure can underrate the importance of team depth; the Spurs, who have only three star points, are rated too low, for instance. The Celtics — although they’re losing a few players to make room for Hayward — are also a deep team, with lots of average or slightly-above-average players and lots of draft picks to keep priming the pump. They could probably compete for a title with five star points, therefore, instead of needing six or seven. Adding another Beta-level player might be enough to do the trick.It’s hard to see where that player comes from, however. The Celtics lost some of their financial flexibility in signing Hayward. And while they could develop a star player rather than acquiring one, giving more playing time to young players such as Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum could make them less competitive in the short run.If there’s one Celtics move that looks bad in retrospect, it isn’t necessarily trying and failing to acquire Butler or George, it’s trading the No. 1 draft pick for Philadelphia’s No. 3 pick, with which they chose Tatum. While Tatum has a fairly promising projection, he doesn’t have the upside of No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, whose comparables include players such as Harden, Westbrook and Wall. The trade might have made sense for a team that already had its stars in place and wanted to develop complementary players around them, but the Celtics have plenty of complementary players and are short on stars.At the same time, it would be easy to underestimate the challenge Ainge faced. The Celtics’ 53-29 record last year was deceptive, in that it came against a weak conference and relied on what were arguably career years from several players, including Thomas.7The Celtics also outperformed their 48-34 Pythagorean record by several games. In many respects, they were a rebuilding team dressed up as a competing team. And precisely because the Celtics weren’t just one player away from contending for a title, Ainge needed to acquire a player like Hayward or Butler without compromising the Celtics’ ability to acquire or develop another such player down the road. Even if the Celtics are still a star away from seriously contending for a title — maybe even a superstar away — that’s closer than they were last week.