Is Luka Doncic Really an All-Star Candidate?

Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic is currently second in the fan vote, behind only LeBron James, for the Western Conference All-Star starting forwards. Lukamania has seized the nation, as he has seized the mantle from Goran Dragic as America’s Best Slovenian. But what do NBA fans know? These are the same dingbats who have Derrick Rose second among guards in the same balloting. At least Dwyane Wade‘s vote total in the East is understandable given a lot of fans don’t care about his stats, they just want to see a Farewell Tour stop that involves sharing a court (albeit as …

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The Spurs’ Success Is in Spite of, Not Because of, Gregg Popovich

Earlier this week, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote a fantastic breakdown of the San Antonio Spurs’ offense that is well-written, eye-opening, and dead wrong. In it, O’Connor correctly points out that the Spurs, since December 1 (and through games of January 2) have the best offensive rating in the NBA despite shooting the lowest percentage of their shots from three-point range. And on the day that piece ran Thursday, the Spurs didn’t just beat the Toronto Raptors, they pulled their pants down, stole their lunch money, and kicked their bare asses back to Canada. It was a 125-107 beatdown …

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The Greatest Defensive Teams in NBA History

In a basketball era where scoring is completely off the charts and the NBA seems to break its league-wide record for Offensive Rating with each passing season and with every made three-pointer, in a world gone mad where even centers like Brook Lopez are making eight triples in a game, and in a league where defense would, it seems, be a thing of the past, there are still great teams having great defensive seasons. After all, if the average team scores 110.1 points per game (as the NBA is league-wide this year, with a 109.7 Offensive Rating because pace is …

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Did the Three-Pointer Really “Kill Basketball”?

There has been plenty of complaining in NBA circles by the likes of Gregg Popovich that the 3-point shot “ruined basketball.” And on some level, having a shot that is worth fully 50% more points than other shots on the court does threaten to over-value it. After all, so far this season, teams are making 35 percent of their three-pointers, while 51.7 percent of two-pointers are going in. This means that per 100 attempts (and not counting and-ones, which we will eventually get to), teams score 105 points on threes and 103.4 points on twos. And that’s not much of …

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Trevor Ariza Breaks NBA Advanced Stats

As a general rule, advanced stats tend to move in, if not lockstep, at least some reasonable degree of correlation with each other. Higher PER, higher win shares. Higher Win Shares/48, higher Box Plus/Minus. Better BPM, better VORP. And in any combination thereof, when one stat moves, so do the others. But there’s one very notable exception; PER tends to undervalue catch-and-shoot wings. Need examples? Well, earlier this week I pointed out that Bojan Bogdanovic has a PER better than league average (15, by definition and baked in the stat) in just one season in his career, namely this one, …

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The NBA’s Most-Entertaining-Team Power Rankings

If you have NBA League Pass, and all you’re using it for is to watch your favorite team because you live out of market, you are badly shortchanging yourself basketball-wise. (I mean yeah, don’t get me wrong, I love the Pacers, but I am first and foremost a lover of fine basketball and I must admit that Indiana doesn’t always play the most entertaining brand of basketball out there.) So for you, the League Pass viewer, I’m going to offer you a very simple statistical model to rank 1-30 the teams you should be watching if you like entertaining basketball. …

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Gregg Popovich Needs To Retire Right Now

Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, a five-time champion, the man who is to Tim Duncan what Bill Belichick is to Tom Brady in football. The Spurs won 50 games or more for 18 straight seasons between 1999-2000 and 2016-17. Stretching back to David Robinson‘s rookie year in 1989-90, San Antonio has, in all but one season (the 1996-97 tank-o-rama that netted them Duncan in the draft), won at least 47 games out of every 82 (they went 37-13 in the ’99 lockout year, a 61-21 full-season pace.) They are the ultimate proud NBA franchise. …

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Why Do 50-Point Games Come So Often In Losses?

Back on November 17, Kemba Walker scored 60 points in a game his Hornets lost in overtime to the 76ers. Since then, Kevin Durant‘s scored 51 in a loss, and James Harden scored 54 in a loss as well. In fact, so far this season, players scoring 50 or better in a game are just 5-3 overall, a 51-win pace over 82 games. (Thanks are due to Basketball Reference’s excellent Play Index for making this analysis possible.) These are some of the biggest scoring explosions you see in the league. A 50-piece is a crowning achievement. Heck, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the …

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Kemba Walker Is One of the Worst Clutch Players of All-Time

Kemba Walker is one of the most enigmatic stars in the sport of basketball. His Hornets have outscored their opponents in each of the past three seasons, but their record in those years, respectively, are 36-46, 36-46, and 10-10. For the two full seasons, they underperformed their win expectation by six each of those two years, and this year, a team that should be on pace for 53 wins is instead on pace for 41. That, assuming Charlotte would be 13-7 if they held serve with their record this year, is 15 wins below expectation across a mammoth sample size …

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Darren Collison Fought Regression and Regression Won

I want you to take a look at a picture I just took on Basketball Reference and tell me what you think it means, and for fun pretend that I didn’t completely gave it away in the headline. That is Darren Collison‘s right-side-of-the-chart advanced stats for the ten seasons, including the first 15 games of this one (through the Heat game on Nov. 16), of his career. You see the beautiful symmetry in it? Collison comes into the league, shows some promise, has a pretty good rookie season where it’s obvious he’s got a lot of potential if he can …

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