Statistical Test: Correlating VORP and NBA Team Wins

Back in May, I examined the contributions of “replacement-level” NBA players, those guys with 0.1 either side of zero VORP, and in the process tried to figure out what an entire team of those guys or their presumed G-League “replacement player” equivalents would do over the course of a season. And in that effort, I took a six-team sample size from a cross-section of NBA competence to determine a formula: Wins (per 82 games) = (2.15*aggregate VORP)+19. But it occurs to me that I can do better than just taking a sample, shoehorning a little back-of-the-envelope math into it, and …

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The Pacers are the NBA’s Most Fragile Team

The Indiana Pacers went from a 57-win team to a 37-win team in as much time as it took Victor Oladipo‘s quadriceps tendon to tell coach Nate McMillan what it thought of the amount of time Oladipo got left in blowouts that should’ve gone to garbage time players long before. The Pacers went 25-11 in games in which Oladipo appeared. They were 23-27 without him, including an awful 6-15 in the last 21 games including the playoff sweep against Boston. In fact, they managed to lose to the Celtics six times in the space of a month. This year, Oladipo …

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The LeBron-Davis Lakers’ Death Lineup Scares Nobody

Sometimes, in the wonderful world of NBA Twitter, you see something so brain-explodingly silly that all you can do is laugh your little head off at it. Like this tweet from Magic Johnson, for example: Laker Nation, I’m dreaming about the 4th quarter Lakers team with LeBron, AD, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Kyle Kuzma. That’s almost unbeatable! — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 8, 2019 Magic asserts that a fourth-quarter lineup of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Kyle Kuzma is “unbeatable”. I mean, the joke writes itself, doesn’t it? But OK, Magic, I’m a man …

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The Toronto Raptors Are Headed for a Historic Dropoff

Kawhi Leonard finally made his free agency decision, and he’ll be teaming up with Paul George on the Microsoft Clippys…er, Los Angeles Clippers, looking to become the kings of Staples Center in a rivalry with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Leonard’s former Spurs and Raptors teammate Danny Green. Meanwhile, the Raptors have a dinosaur mascot, an aging Kyle Lowry, and a slammed-shut championship window that followed the greatest one-season free agent rental in NBA history. It stands to reason that the Raptors aren’t going to come anywhere close to the lofty heights they achieved in 2018-19. The Milwaukee Bucks have …

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Kevin Pritchard is the King of the NBA Offseason

A GM in a big NBA market like Los Angeles or New York is under tremendous pressure to bring home the truly epic prizes, guys like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant, and with all the advantages in the world, any fool can close the deal—the Lakers, after all, got LeBron James for no better reason than because LeBron wanted to be closer to his media empire during the season. A GM in a small NBA market has to operate on the margins, bringing in value talent, drafting well, and winning trades in order to build even a perennial first-round playoff …

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On NBA Sidelines, We See the WNBA’s True Value

As a business entity, the WNBA is just about a complete non-factor, a small blip on the NBA’s balance sheet, a league that makes barely more money in a year than one NBA player on a four-year supermax will in Year 4 of that contract. But in terms of its contributions not just to women’s sports but to sports irrespective of gender, the WNBA punches far above its weight—like on a Little Mac in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out level of punching above its weight. Kara Lawson, WNBA and Olympic champion and Washington Wizards broadcaster, was hired by the Boston Celtics to …

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The Pacers’ 2019 Draft Has Something For Every Fan

To say Kevin Pritchard had a whirlwind of activity on draft night Thursday is to say that Dorothy got caught up in a light breeze on a calm Kansas evening. Normally that kind of capacity for understatement is reserved for British political leaders in the midst of a war. No, what Kevin Pritchard did was a full-scale, F5 tornado whirlwind of activity that saw the Pacers acquire a known commodity (T.J. Warren, one of those guys I love to watch play because when his shot starts falling he scores a lot of points in not a lot of time) for …

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Dell Demps, Sam Hinkie, and the Meaning of NBA Genius

  Dell Demps just managed to do completely by accidental bumbling what Sam Hinkie did by deliberate, willful arrogance, and in the Process managed to prove once and for all that the gods have one heck of a sense of humor. After all, what difference is it truly between New Orleans being a garbage fire for years under an incompetent GM, lucking into a couple of top draft picks, and rebuilding the franchise into a contender under a smarter GM, and Philadelphia being a garbage fire for years under an incompetent GM, whiffing on a bunch of draft picks and …

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Jason Collins and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season

Jason Collins was one of the greatest defensive players ever to take the floor in an NBA game, a perpetual stay-away shutdown guy who wasn’t a great rebounder, wasn’t a great shotblocker, and put up cover-your-eyes box score stats but who continually altered opposing game plans by going full “you shall not pass” Gandalf on walling off the restricted area. In that sense, he was like a great NFL defensive back who doesn’t get a lot of pass deflections or interceptions for the sole reason that quarterbacks are terrified to throw the ball to his side of the field; guys …

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Breakfast Special: Golden State Bluesmobile

The Golden State Warriors always prided themselves on “strength in numbers”, but the only numbers anyone’s counting in Oakland as the team prepares to depart across the Bay next season are the ones on the potential lost free agent contracts for Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Durant suffered what history says will be a career-ending injury to his Achilles in Game 5, while Thompson, after scoring 30 points, collapsed in a literal sense down the stretch when his ACL finally said “no mas” in his left knee. Although, to Klay’s credit, holy crap: Klay walking back onto the court WITH …

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