Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Phoenix Suns

by Fox Doucette For every yin, there is a yang, and for every Golden State Warriors squad tearing up the top of the league and redefining the word dynasty for a modern age, there is a sad-sack franchise with a cheapskate owner and no discernible leadership doomed perpetually to suck. Say hello to your 2017-18 Phoenix Suns, folks, as easy a case of Busted as the Dubs were Confirmed. Let’s unpack the sad tale of a pathetic franchise, which spends every waking moment of its life in the futile pursuit of a sadistic playoff berth, which mocks them and laughs …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Golden State Warriors

by Fox Doucette Are the Golden State Warriors any good? Well hmmmm, let me think about it for a minute. Hold on, this might take me awhile to decide, because… …are you flipping kidding me? Of course they are! They’re the overwhelming favorite to win the title for the third time in four years, it’ll be 2019 before they run into potential contract trouble (when Klay Thompson might up and decide to take a max deal somewhere else because he’s tired of winning all the time and wants to be Raptors-era Chris Bosh for a change…) So rather than make …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Denver Nuggets

by Fox Doucette The first question when asking about the Denver Nuggets isn’t “what’s the over/under on wins?” It’s “what’s the over/under on dumb puns on Nikola Jokic’s last name?” I’m serious, that’s no Jokic. I don’t have kids, but I’ve got dad jokes, folks. Now then. On to the team itself. This team, coming off a 40-42 season in which they missed the playoffs by just one game after a furious 5-2 finish that included a razor-thin one-point loss to Oklahoma City in Game 80 that sank them beneath the waters of a charging Portland squad with less than …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Minnesota Timberwolves

by Fox Doucette The Minnesota Timberwolves added Jimmy Butler to a team that already has Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. They shipped out Ricky Rubio, who can’t shoot and who gets as many assists as he does precisely because he can’t shoot and has to get rid of the ball to guys who can (Rajon Rondo on the Celtics built his reputation that way.) They’re coached by a defensive mastermind in Tom Thibodeau. But this is also a team that couldn’t guard anyone last year, that always seemed to be less than the sum of its parts, and that had …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Portland Trail Blazers

by Fox Doucette Seattle, where this site is based, is not the hotbed of NBA activity it once was. Most of this city’s denizens hold nostalgia for the Sonics; the folks my age remember Payton and Kemp, while the grizzled old folks remember the ’79 title team that brought this city its first (and, until the Seahawks won Super Bowl 48, only) championship. Folks don’t follow today’s game, not since the team naffed off to Oklahoma City. Still, there are Blazers fans in the midst, folks who decided that the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland, at least …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Utah Jazz

by Fox Doucette The Utah Jazz won 51 games last year, dispatched the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, then gave Golden State…not a damn bit of trouble, losing all four games by double digits and shooting 41.9 percent as a team for the series. But hey, the Warriors were 16-1 last year in the playoffs and put up one of the greatest seasons of all time, no reason to panic, right? Well, Gordon Hayward is on the Celtics now. It is time to panic. Utah is now left rebuilding a defensive identity and trying to be a …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Oklahoma City Thunder

by Fox Doucette Russell Westbrook got himself some friends to play ball with this year. A team that featured Westbrook and nobody the goddamn hell else managed to win 47 games despite being the worst three-point shooting team (a cover-your-eyes 32.7 percent), completely incapable of getting an assist that Westbrook didn’t dish out (they were 25th in the league overall, and don’t blame the counting stat on pace; they were ninth-fastest in the Association), and exceptionally turnover-prone (19th in turnover percentage.) On the bright side, they were fantastic at offensive rebounds (grabbing a league-high 27.9 percent of that cavalcade of …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: Houston Rockets

by Fox Doucette Houston is the archetype of the modern NBA analytics revolution. The Rockets won 55 games last year by pulling off the curious combination of looking at the stats on the court and the effect that obvious lack of chemistry got them in real numerical terms. The eye test guys always squawk about how you can’t measure things like team chemistry. If that were the case, Dwight Howard’s departure wouldn’t have been good for 14 wins. The offense was 6.4 points per 100 possessions better, second only to Golden State’s unstoppable juggernaut in terms of efficiency. The defense, …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: San Antonio Spurs

by Fox Doucette Are the San Antonio Spurs any good? Of course they are. They’re the Spurs. Next question. “OK, wiseguy,” you may say at this point, “are the Spurs good enough to hold their ground in an increasingly top-heavy Western Conference and make a run at the Finals?” Well, of course they are. They’re the Spurs. Let’s take a closer look. Stats via Basketball Reference, over/unders via Sports Insights. 2016-17 Record: 61-21 2018 Over-Under: 54.5. The Spurs You Know And Love Tony Parker’s still rehabbing from offseason surgery but will be back around the All-Star Game if projections hold. …

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Is This 2018 NBA Team Any Good?: New Orleans Pelicans

by Fox Doucette One of this site’s biggest running catchphrases is the term “Scott-Hollins Syndrome”. Named after disgraced NBA coaches Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins, whose failure to embrace advanced analytics and the offensive tenets from which we draw our name here, it is our term for when a coach, team, or (Charles Barkley, looking at you) TV guy shoot themselves in the foot with their ignorance of modern basketball. Well, if Scott-Hollins Syndrome put on an NBA uniform and trotted out a team, it would be the 2017-18 New Orleans Pelicans. The Pellies feature DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, …

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