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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Achtung Panzer! #3: The Tanking Atlanta Hawks

Losers of nine straight and 12 of 13, the Atlanta Hawks now stand 4-15, dead last in the Eastern Conference and just half a game ahead of the woeful Golden State Warriors for the worst record in the NBA. A team that was supposed to have their breakout year instead finds itself mired in the throes of awful, as John Collins serves a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, Kevin Huerter sits in street clothes with injury, and Trae Young puts up monster stat lines (like his 49-point outburst against the Indiana Pacers on Black Friday) in …

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Achtung Panzer! #2: The Tanking Portland Trail Blazers

Some teams, you know they’re tanking. They dump salary, let G-League rejects and second-rounders have big minutes, sign just enough veteran salaries to get above the league’s salary floor, and go out there and suck the way everyone knows they’re destined to suck. And then there are the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers, with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and a 5-11 record good for 14th place in the Western Conference above only last week’s Achtung Panzer entrant, the Golden State Warriors. The Blazers, on paper, shouldn’t be this bad. But there are clear signs that they are stealth tanking, convincing casual …

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Whoa, Devin Booker Isn’t Trash Anymore!

When the Phoenix Suns got off to a hot start and Devin Booker appeared to be maturing into the player that Suns fans have always claimed he could be, I was hesitant to move off my belief that Booker is nothing more than a great stats, bad team guy who puts up gaudy counting stats while doing nothing of value to help his team win. Well, it’s November 14 as this goes to press, the Suns are 6-4 and just gave the Lakers all they wanted and then some in a hard-fought loss on the road, if the season ended …

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For the love of Lithuanian basketball

The FIBA Basketball World Cup gets underway Saturday in Australia, and while the eyes of most of the NBA media are squarely on the United States team, there’s one American hoop junkie whose eyes are firmly cast to the east when picking a squad to root for. It’s not that I’m against USA Basketball per se, it’s just that one country has such an inspired history both with the sport and as a country that I have to root for them out of a go-get-em-guys admiration. I’m talking about Lithuania. “Lietuva” in the local tongue over there. For one thing, …

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Basketball is the Ultimate Sport About Failure

Move over, baseball. Your title as biggest sport about failure has just been usurped by basketball. Because in baseball, “you can fail 70 percent of the time and be an All-Star” is both untrue (batting average is dead; all hail on-base percentage, and you’d better be getting on base closer to two times in five if you want to be a true star) and irrelevant; once you are out, you are back in the dugout and your ability to contribute meaningfully to your team’s success is done for another two or three innings. In basketball, on the other hand, some …

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On NBA Sidelines, We See the WNBA’s True Value

As a business entity, the WNBA is just about a complete non-factor, a small blip on the NBA’s balance sheet, a league that makes barely more money in a year than one NBA player on a four-year supermax will in Year 4 of that contract. But in terms of its contributions not just to women’s sports but to sports irrespective of gender, the WNBA punches far above its weight—like on a Little Mac in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out level of punching above its weight. Kara Lawson, WNBA and Olympic champion and Washington Wizards broadcaster, was hired by the Boston Celtics to …

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Dell Demps, Sam Hinkie, and the Meaning of NBA Genius

  Dell Demps just managed to do completely by accidental bumbling what Sam Hinkie did by deliberate, willful arrogance, and in the Process managed to prove once and for all that the gods have one heck of a sense of humor. After all, what difference is it truly between New Orleans being a garbage fire for years under an incompetent GM, lucking into a couple of top draft picks, and rebuilding the franchise into a contender under a smarter GM, and Philadelphia being a garbage fire for years under an incompetent GM, whiffing on a bunch of draft picks and …

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The Pacers’ Point Guard Options Are All Terrible

The Indiana Pacers have so many trade and free agency rumors swirling around who is going to start at point guard when the 2019-20 season tips off that you could plug any name from the entire NBA into a Mad Libs and send it off for editing and readers would tweet it far and wide with no regard for its credibility. Part of this is because every offseason for every team at every position of need is like this and part of it is the simple fact that the Pacers, by virtue of Darren Collison being about to turn 32 …

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NBA Awards and the “Media Doesn’t Watch Games” Argument

Every time the question of analytics and the “eye test” comes up, someone starts in with the “these media guys never played the game” argument, suggesting that you have to play the game at a high level to fully understand it. Now, I don’t buy that argument for a variety of reasons. For one, most former NBA players who get into coaching tend to be awful at it. Sure, they’re great at the management of egos and the team cohesion side of the job, but when it comes to the Xs and Os, most former players revert to the style …

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