Which Advanced Stats, by Themselves, Create the Best NBA GOAT Lists?

Welcome to part 2 of Project Goliath. In our last edition, we took a look at classic NBA counting stats and determined that any set of stats that criminally underrates Michael Jordan and doesn’t do much better with LeBron James cannot be a true metric of “one stat to rule them all.” So it’s time to go back to our old friend the Basketball Reference Play Index, and this time, we’re going to take every NBA player who ever played 820 games (10 full seasons’ worth; to give you an idea, Larry Bird played 897, Magic Johnson played 906, and …

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Breakfast Special: Nuggets-Spurs Has Gone Mad

The Denver Nuggets went 34-7 at home during the regular season. The San Antonio Spurs won 32 of their 41 home contests, losing just nine. If you knew nothing else about the series, you’d predict that it’d be the kind of seven-game series where the home team won every game and it ended in the Mile High City without the series truly starting in the “a series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game” sort of way. Well, hold on to your butts, folks. Denver won 117-103, in San Antonio, and leveled the series at 2-2, with each …

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Breakfast Special: It’s What We Broadly Expected

The NBA playoffs are fundamentally a problem of mathematical certainty given a large enough sample size. When you combine 82 games of regular-season basketball with best-of-seven series, and especially in the first round stir in teams with a high likelihood of a talent disparity due either to the simple fact that there’s a big difference between contender and mid-first-round draft pick team or due to that circumstance being forced by injury… …well, nobody should be surprised that Toronto and Boston both won on the road Friday. The Indiana Pacers, who finished the season 16-19 after Victor Oladipo went out, are …

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Breakfast Special: Kevin Durant’s Better As A Heel

Kevin Durant may be a thin-skinned, easily-riled mercenary with all the moral courage of a toddler threatened with having his screen time taken away, but there aren’t many better players in the league when they’re in full-on Eff You Mode. Durant had 12 points in the first quarter, finished with 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting including 11-of-13 on his two-point shots, posted a game-best plus-32, and led the Golden State Warriors back to control of their first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers with a 132-105 win. Some games merit deep dives and deeper analysis. Durant and Stephen Curry (21 …

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Breakfast Special: #FearTheDeer Hearts And Gentle People

I am, via a couple of national-media follows, plugged into Pistons Twitter in a way that is matched by few other NBA teams—it’s pretty much the Mavs, Suns, and Pace and Space Emeritus Zach d’Arbeloff’s particular brand of Weird Celtics Twitter (speaking of, follow @embracesmarf)—and as such I got to see a fanbase demoralized by the pure power of Milwaukee Bucks basketball and Dwane Casey’s coaching their own team. I have about one hundred and one questions for Dwane Casey. — Duncan Smith (@DuncanSmithNBA) April 18, 2019 The Bucks won 120-99, bringing the total margin on the first two games …

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How Well Do Old-School Counting Stats Create NBA GOAT Lists?

Welcome to Project Goliath, the ultimate statistical test to take just about every stat you can dream up, traditional and advanced, and use them to see which stat (or combination of stats) produces the most reliable lists of the greatest NBA players of all time. Because let’s face it. We know all-time greats when we see them. A stat that leaves Michael Jordan off the list is obviously going to be either a garbage stat or else slanted too far away from shooting guards to be worth comparisons across positions. Likewise, a stat that leaves out Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim …

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Breakfast Special: To Anger A Raptor

There is a classic saying in the right-tool-for-the-job genre that goes “shooting a bear with a .22 will only make it angry.” And taking advantage of a you-saw-it-coming Kyle Lowry playoff disaster in a Game 1 and only winning by three points? That’s shooting a bear—or a dinosaur—with a .22. The Raptors won Game 2 111-82 behind 22 points and a plus-30 from Lowry, who shot 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) and showed the world a thing or two about writing him off after one game. But it was Kawhi Leonard who woke up the echoes of his own past in scoring …

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Pace And Space 2018-19 Predictions Revisited: How’d I Do?

There are two types of people, broadly speaking, who read my work. There are the people who arrive here via Google search or Basketball Reference or some random social media link and who tend to read what they came for and move on. Then there are the fans, those of you who come here every day, say nice things about the Breakfast Special on Twitter, livetweet with me during Pacers games. This column is for you. Because it’s the people who read me regularly and put some stock in what I say that are going to have the most fun …

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Breakfast Special: The Sixers Finally Showed Up

Far from the outright embarrassment they were when they lost Game 1, the Philadelphia 76ers showed up in a big way in Game 2 to even their playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 145-123. This was a case of a Nets team with virtually no playoff experience against the seasoned Sixers who made it to the second round last year, exactly the kind of battle-hardened bounceback game that shows maybe Brett Brown isn’t going to be coaching the Pelicans next year after all. HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic showed out for the second unit, scoring 16 points in 18 minutes …

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Breakfast Special: Home Court Advantage For Real This Time

Saturday’s games featured a bunch of road upsets, three of them to be exact, and that got the attention of the home teams in Sunday’s games, who came out seeking to avoid the fate that happened the day before. With the reminder to pay attention firmly in hand, not only did the home teams all hold serve, but two of them won the kinds of blowouts that you usually expect from playoff teams playing their starters against the likes of the Suns and Knicks. But first… Ugly with a Capital UGG-LEE. The Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers played a playoff …

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