“Threes And Layups”: The Evolution of NBA Offense In One Stat

On this here site, D’Antoni Index has become a catch-all stat for measuring “modern” NBA offense. If the goal is to shoot your outside shots from 3-point land, your inside shots inside the restricted area, and to draw lots of fouls, adding up the rate at which teams accrue such things must by definition measure how well teams are achieving that goal. What’s more, what constitutes a “high” 3PAR, for example, has radically changed over the year. For example, the Indiana Pacers, through games of January 17, 2021, stand 21st in 3PAR at .373; the majority of NBA teams take …

Read More

First-Mover Advantage: Why Basketball Games Don’t End 2-0

Consider the following two equal-but-opposite scenarios in sports. On one end, you have a penalty kick in top-flight, World Cup or elite European club league soccer. The offense, as in the guy who’s about to kick the ball, knows exactly where he intends to put the ball, can do so with a nearly pinpoint degree of accuracy as he’s practiced these kicks for hours on top of hours, and as a result has almost all the control over the ensuing result. The goalkeeper is nearly helpless; at best he can try to guess where the ball is going, leap at …

Read More

5 NBA Teams Are 4-1. They’re Completely Different.

As the NBA heads into the 2021 calendar year, the 76ers, Pacers, Magic, Clippers, and Suns are all 4-1, tied for first in their respective conferences. Indeed, the Magic were the last unbeaten holdout, winning their first four games before losing to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve. But if five games have taught us anything, there’s more than one way to win four out of five in professional basketball. Let’s take a look at the five best teams in the league as of ten days into the season and see what they have in common…and what makes no sense about …

Read More

Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats (2020-21 Edition!)

Last year, early in the season when most teams had only played two or three games, I took a look at the insane NBA records that would not only fall but be shattered if the players who had wild openings to the season kept up that pace for 82 games. After Trae Young went for 37 points on just 12 shots and for one game had an absolutely bonkers PER of 59, it was clear that a sequel was in order. So welcome to the Second Annual Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics column! Rather than get caught …

Read More

Pacers Win! A Massive One-Game Overreaction to Nate Bjorkgren’s Glory

The Indiana Pacers won their season opener 121-107 over the New York Knicks Wednesday night, giving all of Pacer Nation a Christmas present to savor while simultaneously reinforcing just how wonderful it is that Nate McMillan is not the coach anymore. The team was behind at halftime. They pulled it together in the third quarter, gave up just 16 points while scoring 27, and took control of the game. What’s more, the team was up nine points with seven minutes to play and, unlike during the McMillan years, there was not the imminent sense of doom that accompanies clock-watching and …

Read More

What Could Michael Jordan’s Career Stats Have Been?

Michael Jordan stands fifth all-time in scoring in NBA history, third in steals, fifth in Win Shares, and second in VORP. By any account, the argument for the greatest player ever to play professional basketball is a two-horse race between Jordan and LeBron James. But what if Jordan—who played in 1,072 career NBA games, 90th all-time—didn’t spend two seasons of his prime trying to play baseball? What if he hadn’t taken three years off before an ill-fated comeback attempt in Washington in 2001 that nearly knocked him out of the top spot for points per game, leaving him in a …

Read More

A Study In Glorious Failure Part 2: Mike D’Antoni

Yesterday, we did a deep dive into the legacy of Don Nelson, Hall of Famer, legendary coach…and one-time conference finalist without so much as an NBA Finals appearance, never mind a ring. But no discussion of the Marty Schottenheimers of the NBA is complete without the recently-sacked maven of Houston Rockets playoff disappointment, good ol’ Mike D’Antoni. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love MDA and campaigned for him to be the new head coach of my beloved Indiana Pacers. But nobody in the history of basketball coaching embodied “live by the sword, die by the sword” like Mr. Seven …

Read More

Trying to Make Sense of the Atlanta Hawks Hype

NBA Twitter seems to be under the impression that the Atlanta Hawks are poised to make a major leap in 2021, as the young talent they’ve drafted or acquired in free agency comes together to create the nucleus of a powerhouse team. Tommy Beer broke down the Hawks’ depth chart, and that means we can start to make some projections and take a look at whether this team’s going to be any good. A tremendous offseason for the a #Hawks. A look at Atlanta’s depth chart: PG: Trae YoungRajon RondoKris Dunn SG:Bodgan BogdanovicKevin HuerterCam Reddish SF:Danilo GallinariDe'Andre HunterTony Snell PF:John …

Read More

Kevin Willis, The Greatest Lousy NBA Player

A few years ago, Jon Bois of SBNation did an episode of Chart Party where he talked about Jeff Francoeur, describing him as “my favorite worst baseball player.” The idea was that “Frenchy” had one of the most explosive first months of a career in the history of Major League Baseball, then dropped off a cliff. Go watch it. It’s good. The weird part is despite that, he lasted 12 years in the league, played in over 1400 major league games for his career, and all this despite frequently ending up with negative Wins Above Replacement (for those who don’t …

Read More

Russell Westbrook’s Nonexistent Trade Value

When an NBA front office decides whether to trade for a player, there are a few questions that need to be answered before either pulling the trigger or calling the other team back to say “no dice.” The first and most obvious is “is the guy we’re trading for any good?” There are plenty of reasons to trade for a guy who sucks, and we’ll get into why as we go down this list of questions, but as a good rule of thumb, you don’t trade for players who suck. The second is “how much money does he make and …

Read More