Statistical Tests: How Important is the Turnover Battle?

There are certain basketball platitudes out there like “you have to control the glass” or “the team that gets more assists wins the game.” But in both cases, they’re either obvious (the team that got more assists probably made more shots and therefore scored more points) or questionable (if you got a bunch of offensive rebounds, it might just be because you couldn’t shoot the ball that night, so you scored fewer points, and you lost.) With players like James Harden and Russell Westbrook setting records for turnovers even as they’ve put up MVP-level seasons, and with some teams just …

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NBA Breakfast Special: LeBronzo

Lonzo Ball got a chance to showcase his skills in front of someone who, if the rumors are true, will be his teammate next year. Against LeBron James, Ball had 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, dished 11 assists, and grabbed eight rebounds, but a near-triple-double was no match for an actual triple-double; LeBron had 25 points, 12 boards, and 12 dimes. Kyle Kuzma continues to stand as the Lakers’ best rookie; he had 20 points off the bench on 8-of-16. It was a curious game from long range for Cleveland. LeBron was 1-of-7; Jae Crowder was 1-of-6. The rest of …

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Lou Williams: Is He Any Good?

Lou Williams, who may just end up being the last prep-to-pro from the old era left at the rate he’s going, was drafted out of high school in 2005 and immediately banished to obscurity; he’s been a starter for only 95 of his 808 career NBA games. But the 31-year-old journeyman, playing for his fifth team in the past four years, is making an incredibly strong case for Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 20 points per game off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. So this leads us to a simple question. Is Lou Williams a starter in …

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NBA Breakfast Special: The Sort-Of Triumphant Paul George

The Indiana Pacers remained tied for fourth in the East, but they did it losing to Paul George and the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the ugliest games you’ll ever see from star players in today’s NBA. PG13 had 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting. Russell Westbrook had a Dark Ages triple-double, one of the worst high-volume stat games of the year. Westbrook had 10 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists, but he shot 3-of-17 from the field. Carmelo Anthony was terrible, but we’re used to that from him by now; his 4-of-14 and 12 points was just par …

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NBA Breakfast Special: For Boban So Loved Us That He Gave Us 13 Minutes

To begin today, we point out that Boban Marjanovic has a 25.8 PER, which if he were qualified for the title in such things, would put him seventh in the entire league. HERO OF SERBIA had 14 points in 13 minutes on 4-of-6 shooting and 6-of-8 from the line, pulled down five rebounds, dished two assists, and did not turn the ball over even once. That 14 points was second-best on the Pistons, trailing only Langston Galloway‘s 18, as Detroit… …well, OK. They got their tails handed to them 103-84 by the Denver Nuggets, their freefall toward oblivion having gone …

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Victor Oladipo Belongs in the All-Star Game

With the Indiana Pacers sitting at 16-11 and fifth in the Eastern Conference fully a third into the NBA season, the idea that the team’s early 5-3 start was properly negated by the subsequent four-game losing streak has been pretty well established as rubbish, two winning streaks of four and five games speaking quite well to that as the team has won 11 of its last 15. And in the midst of all that, Victor Oladipo has emerged as a legitimate, no-bones-about-it All-Star. Of course, it helps that two of his would-be competitors at guard, John Wall and Isaiah Thomas, …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Nothing Makes Sense Anymore

The Boston Celtics rested Kyrie Irving, essentially punting the game against the Chicago Bulls on the road; for Chicago, they have as many wins in their last three games as in their first 23. As in, they’ve got three. Boston shot a horrifying 39.8 percent from the field and 10-of-40 from three. Curiously, they were 23-of-43 on two-point shots, good for 53.5 percent. Jayson Tatum was horrible (1-of-7 from the field, four points) in a rare off day for him. Chicago, meanwhile, won the turnover battle 15-8, shot 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) from beyond the arc, and got 24 from Nikola …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Joel Embiid, Papier-Maché Hero

Whoever said it’s always sunny in Philadelphia never saw a Philly sports team in their lives. On the same day that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz went down with an ACL tear just as the football team clinched a playoff berth, Joel Embiid was a late scratch for the 76ers, who lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 131-124 for their fourth straight loss, sixth in their last eight, and who dropped from 11-7 and just a game out of second place to 13-13 and currently ninth in the playoff race. J.J. Redick was 8-of-14 from the field and 9-of-9 from the …

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“Great Teams Gut Out Close Wins in the NBA”: WRONG!

The NBA is a league where point differential is the single strongest predictor across an 82-game season of success and failure. 30 points is worth a win (give or take, and adjusted for pace, but it’s right around 30.) Which is to say, for every plus-one in point differential over a season, it’s good for about 2.7 wins. Every major advanced stat that deals with wins (from playoff-odds projections to Estimated Wins Added/WAR) is based on this principle. Which, in turn, creates a simple maxim. If you want to win lots of games, you need to win by big margins, …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Like A Good Neighbor, Chris Paul Is There

The Utah Jazz have turned back into a pumpkin offensively, and questions must now be raised whether Rudy Gobert is doing more harm than good to the team since his presence tends to turn Utah’s offense into a clogged toilet. There are more questions than that, however. Donovan Mitchell has turned into the focal point and the primary scorer—and his team-high 26 points in Utah’s 112-101 loss to the Houston Rockets on national TV Thursday night certainly spoke to that development—but what is the rest of the offense doing? Ricky Rubio‘s not facilitating, and he’s not the kind of player …

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