T.J. Warren: King of the NBA Bubble

T.J. Warren has been an absolute tour de force for the Indiana Pacers as the team has gone 4-1 in five games so far in the NBA’s restart, clinching the tiebreaker against the Philadelphia 76ers with a win to open the eight-game slate at Disney World and knocking off the championship favorite Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. Warren has cooked a 50 burger, dropping 53 points in that Sixers game, and he’s served up the fries and Coke with 34.8 points per game overall and four games with at least 32 points on the board, including 39 in that …

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The NBA is Back…but is the Level of Play Back?

After weeks of filling in the gaps in the posting schedule with some NBA history and a lot of waiting around, the “Whole New Game” relaunch of the coronavirus-delayed 2019-20 season started up last Thursday. And looking at the box scores, one of two things happened. Either the league’s offensive explosion never missed a beat…or the defensive level of play dipped to the level of an All-Star Game. There are some interesting theories kicking around the NBA Twitterverse about what’s going on—J.E. Skeets pointed out that referees are calling the games tighter because without the crowd noise to drown out …

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The Greatest Offensive Teams in NBA History

The second most-popular post in the history of this site, according to my analytics, is “The Greatest Defensive Teams in NBA History”, where I took a look at Defensive Rating relative to league average to crown teams like the Jeff Van Gundy-coached Knicks, glory-days Spurs, and the 2008 Celtics as owners of the greatest defensive seasons of all-time. More recently, the subject came up on Twitter about where the championship-winning Warriors in recent years or the Mike D’Antoni-coached Rockets rank among the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history. Sure, those guys keep shattering records year in and year out for …

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Just How Bad Was the 1940s NBA?

We take for granted the high-flying, athletic, 3-pointers-from-the-logo NBA of today, where fast-paced, efficient offenses lead to a game seemingly every night where the teams combine to score 250 points, whether it’s a 126-124 “whoever has it last wins” squeaker or a 149-101 blowout. But nearly 75 years ago, when the fledgling Basketball Association of America launched as a way to fill indoor arenas in between hockey games and before anyone could even imagine an entire nation of people going utterly stir crazy cooped up in the house with no sports to watch on TV, the quality of play was…atrocious? …

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The 2020 NBA Eastern Conference is Historically Bad

Since 1996-97, when the Los Angeles Clippers made the playoffs with a 36-46 record (and promptly got swept in the first round by the eventual Finals team in Utah), the Western Conference has sent zero teams to the playoffs with a losing record. In that same stretch of 22 full seasons, the East has sent 12 teams to the playoffs with a losing record, the worst of which was a plug-awful Boston Celtics team that went 36-46 with Mark Blount as their second-best player by VORP (1.7) and Raef LaFrentz as the team leader in WS/48 (.137; Paul Pierce put …

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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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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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