Triple 20: Examining The Impact of the NBA’s Big Three Concept

Ever since Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce joined forces ten years ago to win the 2008 title for the Boston Celtics, the maxim in the NBA has become that you need a Big Three (or, in Boston’s case, The Big Three Featuring Rajon Rondo) in order to have a chance of winning a title. While it took awhile for this to truly get off the ground, as the Lakers and Mavericks, who won the next three titles, were very clearly driven by a single superstar/decent cast paradigm with Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, the idea truly flowered in …

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Larry Bird vs. LeBron James At Age 30: Who Was Really Better?

This graphic has been making the rounds on Facebook. It’s a collection of cherry-picked counting stats without context about Larry Bird and LeBron James. In case that’s not showing up in detail on your mobile device: Bird: 28.1 pts/9.2 reb/7.6 ast/52.2 FG%/26.4 PER. LeBron: 25.3 pts/6.0 reb/7.4 ast/48.8 FG%/25.8 PER. The moral of the story, such as it seems to be, is that Bird soundly beats LeBron, and if you go by counting stats, at age 30 that’s absolutely the case. Things fall apart in a hurry when you start into Advanced Stats 101. We begin by breaking down those …

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For the Indiana Pacers, Losing Is Productive

It’s a funny thing about expectations. When the Indiana Pacers still had Paul George and had designs on a deep playoff run, every loss, especially the kind of blown-fourth-quarter-lead loss endemic to bad teams, was a rage-inducing moment for fans, who got vicious and called for the heads of coaches and front office people. Now that PG13 is in Oklahoma City and the Indiana core is young enough that no small few of them are still on their rookie contracts or the extensions that came from them, those same losses are chalked up to the growing pains of an up-and-coming …

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Why Assists Are A Useless NBA Stat

In a year where Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double while being only third in the league (behind James Harden and John Wall) in assists, yet at the same time putting up the highest assist percentage (as in percent of teammates’ baskets assisted while he’s on the floor) by a player not named John Stockton in NBA history, and while all three guys I just mentioned are on playoff teams, we need to ask and answer one simple question. Is ball movement really all it’s cracked up to be? As in, do assisted baskets have greater effect on wins than …

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Total Team Effort: Does Spreading the Scoring Lead to NBA Wins?

A staple of our NBA coverage has been an unofficial team stat called the Total Team Effort, defined as any game in which seven or more players score in double figures. The general assumption is that either the team distributed the ball well with the starters and made good use of the time they had their second unit in, or the game was a blowout and therefore the bench guys just got enough minutes for two of them to top the 10-point threshold. The NBA is also a star-driven league; you often hear stories like “Westbrook scores 50 as the …

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Are the Indiana Pacers Better Without Paul George?

Hey, Indiana Pacers fans, remember when stuff like this happened? Am I the only one convinced that the #Pacers will lay a giant egg at home against the Kings tonight because that's just what the Pacers do against bad teams after big wins? — Fox Doucette🏀 (@RealFoxD) October 31, 2017 Well, Indiana whipped Sacramento’s hide, handing the Kings a 101-83 smackdown in the process. And not only that, but the team showed that—dare I say it?—they kickstarted the future by trading Paul George not for a win-now quick fix on a fundamentally bad team but instead for pieces that are …

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