Are the 2019-20 San Antonio Spurs Good?

Of all the teams in all of professional sports, no team confounds analysis like the San Antonio Spurs. This is a team that won 48 games in the Western Conference and nearly upset the 2 seed Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs despite a coach whose offensive philosophy is so mired in the Dark Ages that if he weren’t a legend walking, he’d have been fired as the team said “we need to modernize and look toward the future.” The Spurs were dead last in 3-point attempt rate. Their two best players, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, …

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Are the 2019-20 Dallas Mavericks Good?

The 2018-19 Dallas Mavericks were ironclad proof that unless you’ve got one of those players who can put up seasons like a top-5 in the entire league player, you’re not getting to the mountaintop—or, in the Western Conference, even the playoffs—with just one star. Luka Doncic put up a 3.6 VORP in 2018-19. That’s 0.5 VORP better than LeBron James managed in his rookie season in Cleveland back in 2003-04. Those 2004 Cavaliers went 35-47. The 2019 Mavericks went 33-39. This year, however, Doncic is entering the build-on-his-talents year, Kristaps Porzingis is coming back from injury, and the Mavs have …

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Are the 2019-20 New Orleans Pelicans Good?

The New Orleans Pelicans are one giant full-of-promise question mark away from being a G-League team full of castoffs and discards who weren’t good enough for a 35-win Lakers team. But when the question mark is Zion Williamson, whose ceiling is LeBron James and whose floor is Aaron Gordon (big, athletic guy who doesn’t translate dunk contest excellence into superstar performance in actual games), everyone wants to anoint New Orleans as the next Golden State Warriors. Vegas seems to be splitting the difference, pegging the Pellies for 39 wins, 10th in the Western Conference, expecting them to miss the playoffs …

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Are the 2019-20 Memphis Grizzlies Good?

It’s hard to draw an accurate bead on the Memphis Grizzlies as they proceed to try and move past the Grit N’ Grind Era and into a newer, more modern approach to the game. On the one hand, they have a good combination of promising youth and savvy veterans that you need for a team on the rise. On the other hand, they have an absolutely awful coach in J.B. Bickerstaff, a complete moron of a GM in Chris Wallace, and an approach to analytics powered by John Hollinger, a guy whose statistical analyses have been passed by thanks to …

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Are the 2019-20 Denver Nuggets Good?

Is there a wider gap between a team’s actual performance last year and how many wins you’d expect them to get if you looked just at their roster than the Denver Nuggets? I mean, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, and friends are decent basketball players, but the only true consistent All-Star they have on the roster is Nikola Jokic. In point of fact, there’s a team like that in the East and they barely made the playoffs last year with a former-Yugoslavia All-Star center and a cast of “meh” players. Why aren’t the Nuggets more like the Orlando Magic? Well, part …

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Are the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers Good?

The Portland Trail Blazers went 53-29 in 2018-19, made the Western Conference Finals, then made sure Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum got paid the big bucks so their deep-playoff-running backcourt can keep doing that thing they do for years to come. Vegas rewarded them by…penciling them in for a six-win regression at an over/under of 47.5. Buh-what now?! They lost Jake Layman, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, and Maurice Harkless. They added Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja, and Pau Gasol. My gut reaction is to say any team that subtracts Evan Turner automatically gets …

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Are the 2019-20 Utah Jazz Good?

The Utah Jazz are expected to do great things in the 2019-20 season, as Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell get a couple of serious teammate upgrades from Mike Conley replacing Ricky Rubio and Bojan Bogdanovic playing a role once occupied by Jae Crowder. The “surround a big man with shooters” offense, so popular in Milwaukee, finds another home here, and for Gobert, already one of the most lethal offensive presences efficiency-wise in the low-post, having outlets will only be a boon to his already-impressive scoring prowess. And then there’s the whole having one of the best rim protectors in the …

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Are the 2019-20 Oklahoma City Thunder Good?

Remember when Chris Paul played games in Oklahoma City when he was with the then-New Orleans Hornets after Hurricane Katrina? When he put up 5.7 VORP as a rookie and 3.9 in his second year, that first season good for fifth all-time among rookies since VORP became possible to keep as a stat in 1973-74, he set the world on fire in a city that didn’t even have a team yet. The top four, in order? Michael Jordan (8.1), David Robinson (6.4), Tim Duncan (6.0), and Alvan Adams (5.8.) Three Hall of Famers and one guy who made his only …

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Are the 2019-20 Minnesota Timberwolves Good?

The Minnesota Timberwolves were the only member of the Northwest Division not to post at least 48 wins in 2018-19, posting a dismal 36-46 record after Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau had a falling-out that led to Butler playing in Philadelphia and Thibs out of a job. Interim coach Ryan Saunders had to make chicken salad out of chicken…not salad, and he was hampered in his efforts by a combination of not-ready-for-prime-time youth (Josh Okogie), veterans not as good as they think they are (Derrick Rose), and the biggest garbage fire in the league (Andrew Wiggins.) Even going 17-25 with …

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Are the 2019-20 Orlando Magic Good?

The Orlando Magic won the Southeast Division in 2018-19 mostly because somebody had to. Late in the season, it looked entirely possible that the division winner would post a losing record, and the Magic made the playoffs as a 7 seed because there weren’t 8 good teams in the other two divisions in the East (it turned out there were seven, with the Bulls, Cavs, and Knicks finishing 13-15 in the conference. The Southeast Division took spots 9 through 12 inclusive.) Thankfully, the NBA did away with division seeding a few years back, so the 42-40 Magic didn’t get a …

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