Antoine Walker: Was He Any Good?

Antoine Walker is as well-known for being a punchline in jokes about broke athletes (thanks to blowing $100 million on bad investments) as he was for anything he ever did on a basketball court. The epitome of both wasted potential and hilariously inefficient shooting—well, it was funny if you were a fan of the other team—Walker is a guy whose legacy is one of a cautionary tale. But he was also the second-best player on a Celtics team that nearly went to the NBA Finals at a time when the Eastern Conference existed entirely to provide cannon fodder for the …

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Mitch Richmond: Was He Any Good?

The early-90s “Run TMC” combination of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in the NBA as the sun set on the era of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas. Michael Jordan inherited the mantle of Eastern Conference dominance that Boston and Detroit vacated, while the new power in the West was supposed to include the Warriors alongside the Gary Payton/Shawn Kemp Sonics, the John Stockton/Karl Malone Jazz, Hakeem Olajuwon‘s Rockets, and the Charles Barkley Show in Phoenix once the 76ers finally got rid of the disgruntled Round Mound of Rebound. …

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Yao Ming: Was He Any Good?

During this long dark tea time of the NBA soul, the debates worth having have gone silent in the current game, replaced by a social media wasteland of pointless and endlessly rehashed fanboy arguments that resonate like we’re all stuck in the Devil’s sports bar for all eternity or until a vaccine is developed for Covid-19, whichever comes first. Indeed, this very site has largely gone dark because (a) traffic in evergreen content is holding up just fine, and (b) I refuse to get suckered into those very arguments on a public NBA soapbox I take too much pride in …

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Josh Jackson: Is He Any Good?

Josh Jackson, in his first two years in Phoenix, was one of the worst players in the entire league, one of those complete garbage fires that so often end up on draft day as dishonorable mentions for “the biggest bust ever to go No. __ overall” (in Jackson’s case, fourth to the Suns in the 2017 draft, a year after they’d drafted another candidate for “worst 4th pick ever” in Dragan Bender.) How utterly putrid was Jackson in his first two years? Well, how about not just a negative career total for Win Shares but a catastrophically bad one, namely …

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Jonathan Isaac: Is He Any Good?

One of the oldest and most basic rules of this regular feature is “never evaluate a player before his third season in the league.” Because there have been some truly dreadful debut campaigns by guys who went on to become solid NBA players. In recent years, we’ve seen De’Aaron Fox put up a truly dreadful rookie campaign, posting a minus-1.1 VORP and negative Win Shares in his first year in the league. In Year 2, Fox posted 2.3 VORP and .103 WS/48, which are the kinds of numbers you see from borderline All-Stars, and in 45 games in Year 3, …

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Kyle Kuzma: Is He Any Good?

Bob Costas once said of Michael Jordan that “you could surround him with the Spice Girls and the Bulls would still make the playoffs.” The Lakers seem to be attempting something like this, as behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis stand the South Bay Lakers, just getting out of the superstars’ way, letting them 2020 it out there, and occasionally making some spot-up 3-pointers or dunking a basketball while looking like Steve from Accounting (I see you there, Alex Caruso.) It’s a tried and true modern NBA method to win games despite minimal actual talent in aggregate in that “this …

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Lonzo Ball: Is He Any Good?

The mere inability to shoot the basketball does not necessarily disqualify a player from becoming an all-time great. After all, Jason Kidd couldn’t shoot for beans (40.0 FG% for his career, and his five years in Phoenix were the only stretch with one team where he shot above that mark) and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Further away from the basket, Russell Westbrook is arguably the worst 3-point shooter of all-time. His 30.4 percent mark is second behind only Charles Barkley‘s 26.6 for players with at least 2,000 attempts, but Russ has attempted 3,150 through games of January 9, …

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Jayson Tatum: Is He Any Good?

It’s a funny thing sometimes…you sit down to write an article and as you’re getting ready to tell people on Twitter to stay tuned for it, this happens. Jayson Tatum, how?! 😳#Celtics pic.twitter.com/ffIbJv5pgq — NBA TV (@NBATV) January 4, 2020 That’s Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, the subject of this week’s Is He Any Good, doing something that indeed says yes, he’s any good. He’s pretty good. One might even say very good. But that’s not really what we’re asking in the headline. Tatum is bandied about by Celtics fans as a would-be All-Star, a superstar in the making, …

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Does Andrew Wiggins Have a Most Improved Player Case?

How bad does someone have to be where “minimum acceptable level of competence” is so much of an improvement that we celebrate it like a superstar making a leap into the elite? Andrew Wiggins is posting .090 WS/48, 1.1 VORP/82, a 1.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, and (let’s roll with it) a 19.4 PER. In other words, “not total crap.” Not good, not by any reasonable standard for a guy making a max post-rookie extension, and certainly not enough to elevate the woeful 10-16 Timberwolves, losers of eight in a row and none by even two possessions (the smallest margin of …

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Jaylen Brown: Is He Any Good?

Jaylen Brown caused much consternation among a subset of Celtics fans when Boston signed him to a 4-year, $107 million contract extension ahead of Brown entering the final year of his rookie deal after getting drafted third overall in the 2016 draft. After all, a guy who averaged 13 points a game on .547 True Shooting and put up exactly zero VORP (as in, the same value you’d expect from a guy if you gave his minutes to an NBA-ready G-League player) is not the kind of guy to whom smart teams typically give max extensions. Worst-case scenario, the Celtics …

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