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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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part VI: Pacific Division

As we wrap up our look at NBA contracts, a few things—good and bad—about Wiggins Factor as a stat start to come through in the analysis. In one case, it’s a sins-of-the-father argument… This really should say ‘the Wolves HAD one of the worst front offices in the league’. None of those bad contracts were signed by the current regime. — Jake Paynting (@jakepaynting) August 23, 2019 It’s going to take the new front office awhile to take out the trash. And in another case, it’s an example of Stewart’s Maxim: “It’s not funny anymore when it’s your guy.” @RealFoxD …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part V: Southwest Division

Welcome to Part 5 of our 6-part series taking a look at every contract in the NBA—except for rookies and two-way contracts, plus anyone who didn’t play in the league last season due to injury or having been overseas or something—and quantifying the ratio of minute-weighted dollars paid to Win Shares produced. To remind folks who haven’t read previous entries in this series: As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should produce a Wiggins Factor below 100, a rotation player with a rotation salary should be under 200, and ideally you want your superstar-level contracts …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part III: Southeast Division

In the previous two editions of this series, we took a look at the best and worst contracts in the Atlantic and Central Divisions, and we finish our look at the Eastern Conference today with the Dumpster fire that is the Southeast Division—a division Orlando won with a 42-40 record and sent no other teams to the playoffs. Which, in turn, points to the wisdom of the NBA making its playoff standards division agnostic. In the old days, the 4 seed Magic would’ve hosted the 5 seed Celtics in Game 1 of the first round, a Celtics team that won …

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