The Case for Moving the NBA 3-Point Arc to 15 Feet

The NBA, rightly or wrongly, is criticized as a league that is “nothing but 3-pointers and layups.” All the action takes place either right at the basket or way out 24 feet and beyond, the area in between largely reserved as a sort of no-man’s land where there may be plenty of Eurostepping and beating guys off the dribble (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul or Dwyane Wade in their primes come to mind respectively) but very little actual shooting. Meanwhile, there is a very simple reason why that no-man’s land exists. As a matter of efficiency, any shot between 4 …

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The 1970s: The NBA’s Weirdest Decade

Since 1959, when Wilt Chamberlain showed up and, along with Bill Russell, took the NBA out of the Stone Age, every decade of the league’s history has followed the same broad pattern that makes life easier for basketball historians to easily define the league by era. In the 1960s, the Celtics won nearly every year, and the Russell-Chamberlain rivalry defined those early days of the league as we know it today. The 1980s gave us Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and even though it wasn’t quite Lakers-Celtics every single year, eight of the ten titles and 13 of the 20 …

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Just How Bad Was the 1940s NBA?

We take for granted the high-flying, athletic, 3-pointers-from-the-logo NBA of today, where fast-paced, efficient offenses lead to a game seemingly every night where the teams combine to score 250 points, whether it’s a 126-124 “whoever has it last wins” squeaker or a 149-101 blowout. But nearly 75 years ago, when the fledgling Basketball Association of America launched as a way to fill indoor arenas in between hockey games and before anyone could even imagine an entire nation of people going utterly stir crazy cooped up in the house with no sports to watch on TV, the quality of play was…atrocious? …

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Josh Jackson: Is He Any Good?

Josh Jackson, in his first two years in Phoenix, was one of the worst players in the entire league, one of those complete garbage fires that so often end up on draft day as dishonorable mentions for “the biggest bust ever to go No. __ overall” (in Jackson’s case, fourth to the Suns in the 2017 draft, a year after they’d drafted another candidate for “worst 4th pick ever” in Dragan Bender.) How utterly putrid was Jackson in his first two years? Well, how about not just a negative career total for Win Shares but a catastrophically bad one, namely …

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Jonathan Isaac: Is He Any Good?

One of the oldest and most basic rules of this regular feature is “never evaluate a player before his third season in the league.” Because there have been some truly dreadful debut campaigns by guys who went on to become solid NBA players. In recent years, we’ve seen De’Aaron Fox put up a truly dreadful rookie campaign, posting a minus-1.1 VORP and negative Win Shares in his first year in the league. In Year 2, Fox posted 2.3 VORP and .103 WS/48, which are the kinds of numbers you see from borderline All-Stars, and in 45 games in Year 3, …

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3 Great Coaching Candidates for the Indiana Pacers

All season long, as I’ve beaten the “Fire Nate McMillan” drum here and on Twitter for the Indiana Pacers, people have asked me an obvious return question. “OK, so you fire Nate. Who do you replace him with?” And during the regular season, that’s a hard question to answer because every coach I’d pick to coach the Pacers is employed somewhere else making his case for coaching the Pacers but in presumably no danger from his own team. So my stock answer became “Interim Head Coach Dan Burke, then figure out after the season which coach with an actual grasp …

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Tell Your Statistics to Shut Up: The Weird Pacers-Spurs Game

This season, Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich have been, in terms of D’Antoni Index, the most mired-in-the-Dark-Ages, least inclined toward modern NBA offense teams in the entire league, and it hasn’t even been close between them and the rest of the NBA’s coaching fraternity. For those needing a primer, to calculate D’Antoni Index, you sum a team’s 3-point attempt rate (the percentage of its shots that are 3-pointers), its percentage of shots taken within 3 feet of the rim (per Basketball Reference; you can just as easily use NBA.com’s restricted area stats if …

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The Indiana Pacers Have a Kevin Pritchard Problem

Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard has a stellar and deserved reputation as a shrewd negotiator, the kind of guy who can take a small market team and load it up with a roster that should and does punch above its weight in the Association. He did it in Portland, pulling together Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Andre Miller, along with a young and rising Nicolas Batum, into a team that looked like it was going to be a perennial Western Conference contender in the late aughts and early 2010s. The squad won 54 games in 2008-09, Pritchard’s …

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The 2020 NBA Eastern Conference is Historically Bad

Since 1996-97, when the Los Angeles Clippers made the playoffs with a 36-46 record (and promptly got swept in the first round by the eventual Finals team in Utah), the Western Conference has sent zero teams to the playoffs with a losing record. In that same stretch of 22 full seasons, the East has sent 12 teams to the playoffs with a losing record, the worst of which was a plug-awful Boston Celtics team that went 36-46 with Mark Blount as their second-best player by VORP (1.7) and Raef LaFrentz as the team leader in WS/48 (.137; Paul Pierce put …

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No, Nancy Lieberman, Lonzo Ball Is Not 2020 Most Improved Player

The talking-head media world is full of plenty of hot takes, terrible takes, and terrible hot takes, but this take from Nancy Lieberman of Fox Sports might be the hottest and most “thass turrable” (thank you Charles Barkley) of them all. "If Lonzo Ball is not up for Most Improved Player in the NBA this year then, apparently, nobody has cable."@NancyLieberman drops knowledge on Lonzo's improvement this season.#WontBowDown pic.twitter.com/ChSiAFHGco — FOXSports NewOrleans (@FOXSportsNOLA) February 22, 2020 To be Most Improved Player, one must show improvement. This much ought to be obvious. Giannis Antetokounmpo won MIP when he made his leap …

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