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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#FireNate! Pacers Twitter Vs. Nate McMillan

Following a 2-week delay in which I ended up in Twitter Jail AND had my Internet service go out (and it wasn’t just mine, the whole block I live on lost Comcast service before a tech could get out and fix the wiring outside my building), I’m back, and with the All-Star break on, I figure a lighthearted look at the revolt in Pacers fan circles against everyone’s favorite Dark Ages offense-loving, Scott-Hollins Syndrome-afflicted, fire that guy before Victor Oladipo pulls a Paul George and forces his way out of town, worst-in-the-NBA head coach is in order. That’s right. It’s …

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Shooters Shoot: The Re-Integration of Victor Oladipo

The Indiana Pacers, after winning in spectacular fashion in Victor Oladipo‘s first game back with the team, have lost three in a row, including a listless disaster of a game against the Knicks, a garbage loss to a Mavs team that didn’t have Luka Doncic, and a FIRE NATE NOW DEAR GODS HOW DO YOU BLOW AN 8 POINT LEAD IN 83 SECONDS 119-118 disaster movie against the Toronto Raptors. Through all of this, and including Oladipo’s 2-of-8 performance against Chicago that was redeemed in the final seconds of regulation, the Pacers’ two-time All-Star is just 13-of-53 (24.5 percent) from …

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WELCOME BACK VICTOR OLADIPO!

If I told you that a player came off the bench, played 21 minutes, went 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-7 from three, scored just nine points, and added two rebounds and four assists, what would you say? Something along the lines of “that’s not a very good stat line, that’s the kind of thing that costs teams games,” I’d guess. Well, in the words of Charlie Brown, tell your statistics to shut up, because that player is Victor Oladipo, that one three-point make was a monster of a clutch shot that sent the game to an overtime the Pacers …

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Kobe Bryant and the Meaning of Rivalry

Like any kid born in Boston in the late 1970s and treated through childhood to the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, I grew up believing that the Los Angeles Lakers were and are the enemies of all mankind, the hated foe to be vanquished in June, even if Bird and friends only managed to do that once in three tries (winning in 1984 and losing in ’85 and ’87) head-to-head in the Finals. But when Magic Johnson revealed he had HIV in 1991…well, I’ve already written about that. Sure, he played for the hated Lakers, but he was …

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Learning How to Win: The Renaissance of T.J. Warren

Back toward the beginning of the season, I applied some history from my days as a boxing writer to surmise that there are some NBA players who, by virtue of playing on Dumpster fire teams for their early careers, learn how to lose and as such become liabilities when the game is on the line. One of my examples, Kemba Walker, was one of the worst clutch players in the league when he was in Charlotte, shooting atrocious percentages in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime when shooting to tie or take the lead. And for …

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Kyle Kuzma: Is He Any Good?

Bob Costas once said of Michael Jordan that “you could surround him with the Spice Girls and the Bulls would still make the playoffs.” The Lakers seem to be attempting something like this, as behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis stand the South Bay Lakers, just getting out of the superstars’ way, letting them 2020 it out there, and occasionally making some spot-up 3-pointers or dunking a basketball while looking like Steve from Accounting (I see you there, Alex Caruso.) It’s a tried and true modern NBA method to win games despite minimal actual talent in aggregate in that “this …

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See, I Told You So About Malcolm Brogdon and the Pacers

Last week, in this weekly Indiana basketball portion of your Pace and Space program, I spoke at some length about the importance of Malcolm Brogdon to the well-being of the Indiana Pacers. And it just so happens that I tend to decide on an angle for this column around the time the Pacers play a game on a Sunday or Monday night before this feature runs. And this Monday, against the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers, your President and mine showed out to the tune of 21 points (despite 5-of-15 shooting, thanks to an 8-of-9 night at the line and 3-of-6 …

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Lonzo Ball: Is He Any Good?

The mere inability to shoot the basketball does not necessarily disqualify a player from becoming an all-time great. After all, Jason Kidd couldn’t shoot for beans (40.0 FG% for his career, and his five years in Phoenix were the only stretch with one team where he shot above that mark) and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Further away from the basket, Russell Westbrook is arguably the worst 3-point shooter of all-time. His 30.4 percent mark is second behind only Charles Barkley‘s 26.6 for players with at least 2,000 attempts, but Russ has attempted 3,150 through games of January 9, …

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The Indiana Pacers Without Malcolm Brogdon Are a Mess

The Indiana Pacers are losers of five of their last eight games, including a couple of awful losses to the 8-29 Hawks and (in a blowout) the 12-25 Pelicans. Not coincidentally, Malcolm Brogdon has missed six of the last seven games, and the seventh was a decisive 18-point victory over Philadelphia in which Brogdon was ineffective (five missed shots and two assists in eight minutes before leaving with an aggravation of his injury.) Without Brogdon this season (10 of the team’s 37 games), the Pacers are just 5-5, and that once again includes getting destroyed by an awful Pelicans team. …

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