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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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72 Games? Starting on Dec. 22? What’s the NBA’s Plan Here?

The NBA and its union have agreed upon a 72-game season to begin on December 22, ensuring not only that the league fulfills its obligations to the networks under its television contracts but also that statistically speaking, the texture of overall stat totals will look a lot like 2020 and provide about 85 percent of the stats of a true 82-game season. This is important for, say, LeBron James‘ pursuit of NBA history—72 games puts him in range to accomplish the “career triple-double” of 10,000 rebounds and assists to go with his roughly 34,000 and counting career points—and it also …

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Collin Sexton and De’Aaron Fox: Don’t Judge A Rook By His Cover

Collin Sexton and De’Aaron Fox had two of the worst rookie seasons it’s possible to imagine NBA players having, especially if they’re lottery picks and potential franchise cornerstones in Cleveland and Sacramento, respectively. Indeed, Sexton’s rookie year was so awful—under Basketball Reference’s revised version of VORP, Sexton had the seventh-worst rookie season in the 3-point era, and it was second-worst behind only fellow 2018 draftee Kevin Knox—that to instantly call him a bust would be an entirely understandable reaction. Fox’s rookie year in 2017-18 wasn’t much better—he ranks 45th in the 3-point era for worst VORP by a rookie—and yet …

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Chris Paul: Greatest Point Guard Ever?

Way back when I was writing my “Which Advanced Stats Make the Best GOAT Lists?” article in April of 2019, most of the results produced some version of the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan argument, as any good GOAT discussion ought to. The weird thing, though, was that while combing through the data, one name kept coming up as one of the top ten if not top-five guys of all time, and it wasn’t who you’d expect. Chris Paul is fourth all-time in Win Shares per 48 minutes, fifth in Box Plus-Minus, 10th in Value Over Replacement Player, and fifth …

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What’s the Best NBA Team You Can Build With Second-Round Picks?

During this month of 30 articles in 30 days here at Pace and Space, inspiration can come from some very interesting sources. Like this delightful distraction from constant political news that hit Twitter last night from Paul Headley: The top-5 ppg leaders among 2nd round picks is Middleton, Dinwiddie, Bogdanovic, Jokic, Harrell in that order. How many games would that team win? — Paul Headley NBA (@PaulHeadleyNBA) November 6, 2020 A starting lineup of Spencer Dinwiddie at point guard, Khris Middleton and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wings in the shooting guard and small forward positions, Montrezl Harrell at power forward, …

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