Antoine Walker: Was He Any Good?

Antoine Walker is as well-known for being a punchline in jokes about broke athletes (thanks to blowing $100 million on bad investments) as he was for anything he ever did on a basketball court. The epitome of both wasted potential and hilariously inefficient shooting—well, it was funny if you were a fan of the other team—Walker is a guy whose legacy is one of a cautionary tale. But he was also the second-best player on a Celtics team that nearly went to the NBA Finals at a time when the Eastern Conference existed entirely to provide cannon fodder for the …

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Mitch Richmond: Was He Any Good?

The early-90s “Run TMC” combination of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in the NBA as the sun set on the era of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas. Michael Jordan inherited the mantle of Eastern Conference dominance that Boston and Detroit vacated, while the new power in the West was supposed to include the Warriors alongside the Gary Payton/Shawn Kemp Sonics, the John Stockton/Karl Malone Jazz, Hakeem Olajuwon‘s Rockets, and the Charles Barkley Show in Phoenix once the 76ers finally got rid of the disgruntled Round Mound of Rebound. …

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Yao Ming: Was He Any Good?

During this long dark tea time of the NBA soul, the debates worth having have gone silent in the current game, replaced by a social media wasteland of pointless and endlessly rehashed fanboy arguments that resonate like we’re all stuck in the Devil’s sports bar for all eternity or until a vaccine is developed for Covid-19, whichever comes first. Indeed, this very site has largely gone dark because (a) traffic in evergreen content is holding up just fine, and (b) I refuse to get suckered into those very arguments on a public NBA soapbox I take too much pride in …

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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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