James Harden is a “Thirsty Scorer.” What is a Thirsty Scorer?

On ESPN Thursday morning, Max Kellerman referred to the Rockets’ James Harden as “the thirstiest scorer, but not the best scorer.” The quip set NBA Twitter on fire—Kellerman wasn’t the first to use the term, but he has certainly at least for the moment popularized it—but what it didn’t do was explain just what the heck a thirsty scorer is and what separates one from a great scorer. Fortunately, we can invoke Sheed’s Law around here—ball don’t lie—and devise a stat which we’ll call Thirst Points to separate efficient scoring (there are plenty of stats for that) from pure, selfish, …

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Statistical Test: How Well Does Net Rating Correlate With Wins?

There is a maxim that this site lives by, and most of you who follow me on Twitter (@RealFoxD) know what I’m about to say: “Great teams win big and lose close.” Which, in layman’s terms, ultimately reduces to the fact that the higher a team’s point differential over the course of a season, the more games they win. It makes logical, intuitive, downright obvious sense. But the bigger question at work here is “just how much is, say, an extra point per game worth over the course of an 82-game season?” Since this site’s inception, I’ve used an assumption …

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America’s Greatest Slovenian: Luka Doncic’s November MVP Case

Luka Doncic is on pace for 17.6 Win Shares while nearly averaging a 30-point triple-double (29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game). He has 3.0 Win Shares…on a Dallas Mavericks team that, in total, has nine wins. Do the math. The Mavs, on pace for 49 wins, are getting fully a third of their advanced stat value from a single player, the greatest second-year player since LeBron James on the 2004-05 Cleveland Cavaliers, and Luka is doing this not only with arguably just as bad a supporting cast (news flash: Kristaps Porzingis‘ reputation is greater than his actual …

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The D’Antoni Index: A Simple Statistical Test for NBA Coach Quality

We have spoken before in this space about Scott-Hollins Syndrome, the affliction (named for Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins) whereby a coach can destroy his team’s chances at a championship through nothing more than failing to adopt modern NBA offensive principles. If your team shoots lots of midrange jumpers, never attacks the rim, and shoots about as many threes as NBA teams did before 1979 (I hope to the gods you don’t need this joke explained to you), then it is your duty and obligation as a fan to call your local sports talk radio station, go on Twitter, and …

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Achtung Panzer! #1: The Tanking Golden State Warriors

Welcome to Achtung Panzer, a series that will take a look at the teams buying a few extra tickets for the 2020 NBA Draft lottery. We begin with an unlikely entrant, the Golden State Warriors. For each of the past five seasons, the Golden State Warriors have represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, the longest streak for one franchise in either half of the NBA since the Boston Celtics went to eight straight championship rounds between 1957 and 1966 (winning seven!) This year, the Warriors, down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to extended injuries and down Kevin Durant …

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Take Note: The Utah Jazz So Far, By the Numbers

Heading into a Friday night tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Utah Jazz stand 5-3, fifth in the top-heavy Western Conference, and fresh off a gut-check 106-104 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night. The Jazz rearmed and loaded up this offseason, and so far so good for them, but let’s take a look at some of the fundamental stats and patterns of this team and see if coach Quin Snyder is getting the most he can get out of them or if Jazz fans should be hoping for a fundamental shift in style in order to take a playoff …

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Early Favorites: Evaluating the Los Angeles Clippers

Through games of November 3, the Los Angeles Clippers, the early favorites to win the Western Conference, stand third behind the Lakers and Timberwolves at 5-2. This is all the more impressive since Paul George, one half of “The 213” combination (both Los Angeles’ area code and their uniform numbers) with Kawhi Leonard, has yet to appear in a game this season due to injury. This is a team that hasn’t even reached its final form and is still tearing up a Western Conference with ten of its 15 teams at or above .500 as Monday morning dawned this week …

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Zion Who? The NBA’s Rookie of the Year Candidates Through October

The first calendar month of the young NBA season has come and gone, in a manner of speaking, as even though the season started just nine days ago, it’s still “the end of October.” And with a four- or five-game sample size, we’re still very much in wild overreaction territory but certain narratives are coming together about who in the NBA’s 2019-20 rookie class is truly “NBA ready” and who, at best, needs some seasoning in the G-League (looking at you, Goga Bitadze, after that massive egg you laid in nine minutes against Brooklyn Wednesday night for the Pacers) and …

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Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics

Is there anything better than gross overreaction to a hot start in any sport? Two or three games into a season, when the Law of Averages Police have not yet been called in to restore order, a guy who had a big game or two still has gaudy counting stats, a team that smashed their opening-night opponent has the kind of net rating that you’d expect from a team that wins 250 games in an 82-game season, and fans start dreaming of horrifically unsustainable statistical runs that nonetheless pop off the page. Don’t believe me? Consider the following! If Trae …

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How Not to Build a 60-win NBA Team

A maxim in NBA team-building holds that you can’t win an NBA championship without a superstar, and it’s certainly true that every title team since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird featured at least one Hall of Fame player and usually at least two solid Hall of Famers and a third guy who if he wasn’t a Hall of Famer had a fine argument. There are exceptions—Stephen Curry might end up the only Hall of Famer off the 2015 Warriors depending on what Hall voters think of the career of Andre Iguodala. It’s hard to see Kyrie Irving actually ending up …

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