Karl-Anthony Towns: Is He Any Good?

Karl-Anthony Towns made his first All-Star Game in the third year in the league in 2017-18, but his Minnesota Timberwolves barely made the playoffs, and this year the Wolves stand at 13-15, 13th in the Western Conference standings. And granted, he’s playing alongside Andrew Wiggins, one of the worst players in the league, and the one competent star he had alongside him, Jimmy Butler, got traded to Philadelphia for a bag of peanuts. OK, so maybe Robert Covington and Dario Saric are pretty good quality peanuts, but they’re not Jimmy Butler. But Minnesota’s been down this road before. A team …

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Breakfast Special: O Canada, Our Warrior-Crushing Land

No Kawhi Leonard? No problem! The Toronto Raptors were good before, they engaged in some serious addition-by-subtraction shipping the three-pointer-averse DeMar DeRozan out of town, and they they went out and demonstrated that team-first supremacy in Oakland Wednesday night as they beat the Golden State Warriors 113-93 on national television. If you’re going to wreck the Dubs, holding Stephen Curry to 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting—and watch as this becomes a theme later, since “take away the star” got another team a big win that we’ll get to in a minute—is a fine way to do it. Once again, Serge …

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Breakfast Special: Even Boban Cannot Save You

When Boban Marjanovic has one of those HERO OF SERBIA games off the bench, shoots 7-of-9, leads the Clippers with 18 points in just 16 minutes, pulls down seven rebounds, and keeps the game within the margin (he was minus-1) in that time frame, that’s a good sign for Los Angeles. Unfortunately, that was just the third of the game that wasn’t total garbage for the Clips, as the Raptors pounded them like cheap steak 123-99 in a game that was over by the end of the third quarter, when the score was 103-74. Serge Ibaka had 25 points to …

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Are the Indiana Pacers Better Without Victor Oladipo?

Hey, who’s ready for some STEAMING HOT TAEKS about how the Pacers, 8-4 in their last 12 games, 11 of which were played without Victor Oladipo and the 12th, against the Hawks, featuring Vic leaving the game early in the first quarter, are better off without their star? That’s right, we’ve got cherry-picked stats, gross miscarriages of context, and shameless fanboying! Get ready, folks! The Defense Is Amazing! The Pacers are 3rd in the league in Defensive Rating, and a big part of why is that they’ve allowed under 100 points in six of the 12 games. In fact, if …

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Breakfast Special: LeBron, D-Wade, and Era Farewells

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade brought the world four Finals runs in Miami, tons of entertaining basketball, and no small few great matchups as foes when the King toiled in Cleveland. And Monday night, we got the last time the two men will meet on a basketball court in a regular-season NBA game (and no, Wade doesn’t get to be an All-Star. Unless Victor Oladipo stays hurt. Then we can talk.) Of course it was a competitive game. The Lakers won 108-105 to go to 17-10 overall and 11-4 at home. Wade got some extended run off the bench and …

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Did the Three-Pointer Really “Kill Basketball”?

There has been plenty of complaining in NBA circles by the likes of Gregg Popovich that the 3-point shot “ruined basketball.” And on some level, having a shot that is worth fully 50% more points than other shots on the court does threaten to over-value it. After all, so far this season, teams are making 35 percent of their three-pointers, while 51.7 percent of two-pointers are going in. This means that per 100 attempts (and not counting and-ones, which we will eventually get to), teams score 105 points on threes and 103.4 points on twos. And that’s not much of …

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Breakfast Special: Bucks 2, Raptors 0

Twice this season, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have met in a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. And twice this season, the Bucks have emerged victorious. Sunday, they even did it on the road, winning 104-99 in Canada in a surprisingly defensive matchup between two powerhouse offenses. Then again, even though the Bucks and Raptors are 2nd and 4th respectively in Offensive Rating, they’re also 4th and 7th on defense, and yes, that’s Milwaukee in the better position in each case even as they trail the Raptors by 2.5 games in the East standings. The Bucks shot 41.4 …

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Klay Thompson: Is He Any Good?

Klay Thompson is a flash point. Doubt his prowess in a room full of Warriors fans and it doesn’t matter what else you say, they’re going to say you don’t know what you’re talking about. Thompson has a reputation as a great wing defender, he puts up three-pointers like they’re going out of style, and he’s a four-time All-Star. But the stats hate him. So who do you believe, me or your own eyes? The question under discussion here is whether Thompson’s deserving of his role as a four-time All-Star and the association that guys who are perennial All-Stars tend …

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Breakfast Special: Garbage Day

When the closest game in the NBA on any given night is 22 points, you know you weren’t exactly treated to the best competition the game has to offer. But what did you expect when two games involved a playoff team against a tank crew and the third involved one of the most feast-or-famine teams in the league? Boston beat the Knicks 128-100 in a snoozefest opener, Utah beat Houston 118-91 in the nightcap, and over on League Pass Portland pantsed the Suns 108-86 in a game that was over in the first quarter—Portland led 34-9 after one and cruised …

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Trevor Ariza Breaks NBA Advanced Stats

As a general rule, advanced stats tend to move in, if not lockstep, at least some reasonable degree of correlation with each other. Higher PER, higher win shares. Higher Win Shares/48, higher Box Plus/Minus. Better BPM, better VORP. And in any combination thereof, when one stat moves, so do the others. But there’s one very notable exception; PER tends to undervalue catch-and-shoot wings. Need examples? Well, earlier this week I pointed out that Bojan Bogdanovic has a PER better than league average (15, by definition and baked in the stat) in just one season in his career, namely this one, …

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