Achtung Panzer! #1: The Tanking Golden State Warriors

Welcome to Achtung Panzer, a series that will take a look at the teams buying a few extra tickets for the 2020 NBA Draft lottery. We begin with an unlikely entrant, the Golden State Warriors. For each of the past five seasons, the Golden State Warriors have represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, the longest streak for one franchise in either half of the NBA since the Boston Celtics went to eight straight championship rounds between 1957 and 1966 (winning seven!) This year, the Warriors, down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to extended injuries and down Kevin Durant …

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Whoa, Devin Booker Isn’t Trash Anymore!

When the Phoenix Suns got off to a hot start and Devin Booker appeared to be maturing into the player that Suns fans have always claimed he could be, I was hesitant to move off my belief that Booker is nothing more than a great stats, bad team guy who puts up gaudy counting stats while doing nothing of value to help his team win. Well, it’s November 14 as this goes to press, the Suns are 6-4 and just gave the Lakers all they wanted and then some in a hard-fought loss on the road, if the season ended …

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Don’t Let the Indiana Pacers’ 7-4 Start Fool You. They Have Major Issues.

The Indiana Pacers have started this season 7-4 after clobbering the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-85 on Tuesday night. They have won seven of eight after starting the season 0-3, Domantas Sabonis has been in beast mode ever since Myles Turner got hurt, and Malcolm Brogdon has emerged as a genuine All-Star-caliber player now that he’s out of the shadow of Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. Everything should be sunshine and lollipops, especially with Victor Oladipo engaging in full court practice with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants squad today, right? Wrong. Because behind that 7-4 facade is an edifice that isn’t on …

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Take Note: The Utah Jazz So Far, By the Numbers

Heading into a Friday night tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Utah Jazz stand 5-3, fifth in the top-heavy Western Conference, and fresh off a gut-check 106-104 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night. The Jazz rearmed and loaded up this offseason, and so far so good for them, but let’s take a look at some of the fundamental stats and patterns of this team and see if coach Quin Snyder is getting the most he can get out of them or if Jazz fans should be hoping for a fundamental shift in style in order to take a playoff …

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Making Sense of the Indiana Pacers’ 3-Game Renaissance

The Indiana Pacers started the 2019-20 season 0-3 and fans started to wonder if perhaps the team should tank for the first overall draft pick, all while wondering before a single college basketball game that counts has yet been played who’s going to be this year’s Zion Williamson. Then Jeremy Lamb came back, Goga Bitadze learned practically overnight how to basketball, T.J. Leaf had a whole NBA game in which he managed to not suck, Malcolm Brogdon emerged as the MVP, and now the team is 3-3 and “we’re going to win the championship!” The reality is somewhere in the …

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Early Favorites: Evaluating the Los Angeles Clippers

Through games of November 3, the Los Angeles Clippers, the early favorites to win the Western Conference, stand third behind the Lakers and Timberwolves at 5-2. This is all the more impressive since Paul George, one half of “The 213” combination (both Los Angeles’ area code and their uniform numbers) with Kawhi Leonard, has yet to appear in a game this season due to injury. This is a team that hasn’t even reached its final form and is still tearing up a Western Conference with ten of its 15 teams at or above .500 as Monday morning dawned this week …

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Zion Who? The NBA’s Rookie of the Year Candidates Through October

The first calendar month of the young NBA season has come and gone, in a manner of speaking, as even though the season started just nine days ago, it’s still “the end of October.” And with a four- or five-game sample size, we’re still very much in wild overreaction territory but certain narratives are coming together about who in the NBA’s 2019-20 rookie class is truly “NBA ready” and who, at best, needs some seasoning in the G-League (looking at you, Goga Bitadze, after that massive egg you laid in nine minutes against Brooklyn Wednesday night for the Pacers) and …

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T.J. Warren and the “Loser’s Mentality”

In the earliest days of my writing career, I covered boxing, specifically as a beat writer reporting on ESPN’s old Friday Night Fights series between 2011 and 2013 (and again during the 2015 season.) On that show, which featured up-and-coming fighters getting TV exposure on their way to a title shot, there were plenty of guys who built up gaudy records on the club circuit but could never translate that into success at even the “mid-major” (to put it in college basketball terms) level. Those guys, once they’d lost a few close decisions or been knocked out once or twice, …

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Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics

Is there anything better than gross overreaction to a hot start in any sport? Two or three games into a season, when the Law of Averages Police have not yet been called in to restore order, a guy who had a big game or two still has gaudy counting stats, a team that smashed their opening-night opponent has the kind of net rating that you’d expect from a team that wins 250 games in an 82-game season, and fans start dreaming of horrifically unsustainable statistical runs that nonetheless pop off the page. Don’t believe me? Consider the following! If Trae …

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Hey Indiana Pacers! Nate McMillan Needs to be Fired. Now.

It is not normally considered good form to complain about the coach based on one game of an 82-game season. But for the Indiana Pacers, they should’ve fired Nate McMillan…well, they never should’ve hired him in the first place, but if last year wasn’t enough to convince them to take the franchise in a new direction leadership-wise, then what’s it going to take? And I don’t want to hear the argument “but they won 48 games!” Yes they did. Because they have a ton of talent that in the right hands with the right offense could win 60 in any …

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