Daryl Morey’s Legacy of Mediocrity

Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets have finally parted ways; for the first time since 2007, the Rockets will start a season with someone’s name other than Morey’s on the “Executive” line on Basketball Reference. Morey is rightly seen as a guy who wasn’t afraid to shake up the conventional wisdom of the NBA; he is the patron saint of the analytics movement and it is no coincidence that his arrival in Houston heralded the true end of the NBA’s Dark Ages—sure, Mike D’Antoni‘s Suns had shown us the future in 2005, and the Suns leading the league not only …

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Nate McMillan Fired. PRAISE THE GODS.

A couple of weeks ago, the Indiana Pacers gave Nate McMillan a one-year extension on his contract as a coach, which set off a rash of Michael Scott memes, F-bombs, and plaintive repetitions of the word “why” in a desperate tone previously reserved only for Nancy Kerrigan’s Skyrim guard moment at the hands of Tonya Harding’s goons in 1993. Fun coincidence: The 1993-94 season, Nate McMillan led the league in steals despite only starting eight games and made Second Team All-Defensive; McMillan, for his career, is third all-time in steal percentage behind Alvin Robertson and Pacers broadcaster Quinn Buckner. In …

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The NBA is a Lost Cause in Video Games

NBA 2K used to be a gem in the video gaming space. According to Steam, 2K12 is my third most-played game of all time (behind Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4), with game after game of my MyPlayer career accounting for over a thousand hours of time spent since the game came out way back in 2011. I have found little compelling reason to buy an NBA 2K game more recently and have given up not only on the franchise but on the hope that a licensed NBA game will ever be good again. We can of course start with …

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The Case for Moving the NBA 3-Point Arc to 15 Feet

The NBA, rightly or wrongly, is criticized as a league that is “nothing but 3-pointers and layups.” All the action takes place either right at the basket or way out 24 feet and beyond, the area in between largely reserved as a sort of no-man’s land where there may be plenty of Eurostepping and beating guys off the dribble (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul or Dwyane Wade in their primes come to mind respectively) but very little actual shooting. Meanwhile, there is a very simple reason why that no-man’s land exists. As a matter of efficiency, any shot between 4 …

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The 1970s: The NBA’s Weirdest Decade

Since 1959, when Wilt Chamberlain showed up and, along with Bill Russell, took the NBA out of the Stone Age, every decade of the league’s history has followed the same broad pattern that makes life easier for basketball historians to easily define the league by era. In the 1960s, the Celtics won nearly every year, and the Russell-Chamberlain rivalry defined those early days of the league as we know it today. The 1980s gave us Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and even though it wasn’t quite Lakers-Celtics every single year, eight of the ten titles and 13 of the 20 …

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Kobe Bryant and the Meaning of Rivalry

Like any kid born in Boston in the late 1970s and treated through childhood to the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, I grew up believing that the Los Angeles Lakers were and are the enemies of all mankind, the hated foe to be vanquished in June, even if Bird and friends only managed to do that once in three tries (winning in 1984 and losing in ’85 and ’87) head-to-head in the Finals. But when Magic Johnson revealed he had HIV in 1991…well, I’ve already written about that. Sure, he played for the hated Lakers, but he was …

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Achtung Panzer! #7: The Tanking Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards, losers of 11 of 14 and 9-21 on the season overall, look set to claim another lottery pick in the 2020 draft to go along with Rui Hachimura, the ninth pick in 2019. The Wizards are still a capped-out, injury-riddled nightmare, hence the 9-21 record, as Bradley Beal, once expected to be part of a Big Three with John Wall and Otto Porter, is now just a 26-year-old star without the supporting cast to help him claim his place on the national stage. Speaking of Beal, his stats have fallen off a cliff without quality teammates. His …

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Achtung Panzer! #6: The Tanking Cleveland Cavaliers

Welcome to the debut of Pace and Space from our new digs…two miles from the old digs! Still in rain-soaked suburban Seattle, but I’ve moved house, gotten a good night’s sleep, unpacked (mostly), so let’s talk NBA, shall we? The Cleveland Cavaliers, like the New York Knicks we talked about a couple of weeks back, are less “tanking” and more “a complete joke of a franchise that ought to be compared to the likes of the Browns or Jets in the NFL.” At 8-21 through games of December 21, the Cavs own the third-worst record (bless the Knicks and Hawks, …

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Achtung Panzer! #5: The Tanking New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans were supposed to revive their franchise post-Anthony Davis with a collection of castoffs from the Los Angeles Lakers plus the extraordinary luck of winning the Zion Williamson Sweepstakes last offseason. Instead, Williamson has started the season injured, those Lakers have been exactly the kind of players who couldn’t make the playoffs with LeBron James on their team, and the Pellies stand a woeful 6-20, tied with the Knicks and Hawks for the second-worst record in all of basketball ahead of only the what-on-Earth-happened Golden State Warriors at 5-22. And for all the talk of Brandon Ingram …

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Achtung Panzer! #4: The Tanking New York Knicks

The New York Knicks, owners of the worst record in the NBA through games of December 6 (and as this goes to press currently trailing the Pacers) at 4-18, just took that “things have officially gone too far” step and fired coach David Fizdale. Which means a team on pace to win just 15 games has franchise upheaval just as they’re starting to try to bring along promising rookie RJ Barrett, and if that isn’t the most Knicks thing you can imagine, just wait until interim coach Mike Miller slowly loses his mind having to salvage something from this dumpster …

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