Is Paul George 2019 MVP Material?

Russell Westbrook was the NBA MVP in 2017, the first of what has become three straight years in which he’s averaged a triple-double. Russell Westbrook is nearly inarguably the second-best player on his own team. Yet the Thunder are 45-33, and they’re almost certain to win either 47 or 48 games this year, which were their win totals in 2017 (when Westbrook put a G-League team on his back and dragged them to the playoffs) and 2018 (when Carmelo Anthony happened.) It is against this backdrop that we’re trying to build an MVP case for Paul George. The Thunder ditched …

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Is James Harden 2019 MVP Material?

Welcome to the first of a four-part series where Is He Any Good takes on the 2019 MVP race. It’s the same as regular Is He Any Good except the bar’s been set a lot higher; the only way someone’s getting Confirmed on these is if in the estimation of the advanced stats and the Standard MVP Voter Rules™ (“best player on the best team” or exceptional statistical accomplishment like Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 or “his team would be drafting Zion Williamson if they didn’t have him”) says that he’s the MVP. We’ll be looking between now and the end …

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Devin Booker: Is He Any Good?

Devin Booker is, in the sense that the object of basketball is to score points and he once scored 70 points in a game, good at basketball. But on the other hand, basketball is a team sport and it doesn’t matter if you put up numbers higher than some professional golfers routinely put up in their sport if your efforts do not ultimately lead to your team scoring more points than the other team. The Phoenix Suns are, to put it as charitably as possible, a garbage fire. I’ll leave it to your imagination to find less charitable ways than …

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Zach LaVine: Is He Any Good?

In the NBA, there are Dunk Contest Guys and there are actually-plays-in-real-games guys as far as effectiveness is concerned. Rare is the man who can combine greatness in the dunk contest with the kind of career that, say, Michael Jordan had or Dominique Wilkins had or Vince Carter had. Look at the past few years of the dunk contest for All-Star weekend. Hamidou Diallo and Glenn Robinson III and Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. The only guy to do real damage in the dunk contest who isn’t a Dunk Contest Guy, at least not in how he’ll be remembered, was …

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Derrick Rose: Is He Any Good?

Derrick Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball, with eye test fans insisting that he’s the Sixth Man of the Year and statheads countering with “go home, you’re drunk.” Rose drew a ton of All-Star fan votes, but fan vote alone wasn’t enough to get him into the game, and when sensible people got to decide who the All-Stars were, Rose was wisely left off the list. But that’s not the question we’re asking here. We’re asking if Rose is good, and the stats in 2019 don’t care that Rose was MVP once and got a salary …

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Taj Gibson: Is He Any Good?

Defense is a thorny subject when it comes to player evaluation. On the one hand, you’ve got guys like Klay Thompson, who are excellent defenders by reputation but who get murdered in the advanced stats because they’re constantly put on the other team’s best player, and if they’re not quite the superstar defender their reputation makes them out to be, the problem compounds into a point where they have the same advanced stats as the guy who hides on the opponent’s fifth option and can’t even guard him. And on the other hand, you’ve got a guy like LeBron James, …

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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Is He Any Good?

A fine argument could be made that the Los Angeles Lakers have the mother of all roster problems after superstar/unofficial GM LeBron James effectively tried to trade the entire roster plus their wives, children, and household pets to the New Orleans Pelicans in the ongoing dumpster fire that is the Anthony Davis fiasco. At perhaps greater issue is what this means in terms of a bunch of guys the Lakers are inevitably going to have to move if they’re to have any hope of maintaining even the faintest semblance of team chemistry. It may be deader than disco now, to …

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Jeremy Lamb: Is He Any Good?

Jeremy Lamb has begun to evolve into not just Kemba Walker‘s safety valve in Charlotte’s offense that forces the defense to respect him but into a bona fide second or third option in Charlotte’s overall game plan. His scoring on a counting-stat basis is at a career-high level, and he’s taking a lot more shots to tie or take the lead in the close games Charlotte always seems to lose, one reason that the Hornets, with their +0.2 point differential, nonetheless carry a losing 27-29 record into the All-Star break, the third year in a row they’re posting a positive …

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Wilson Chandler: Is He Any Good?

Wilson Chandler has started 32 games of the 36 in which he’s played for the Philadelphia 76ers this year, and to say that he’s the fifth option is mainly to say that five men exist on the basketball court at one time for each of the teams. When Philadelphia acquired Chandler, Denver threw in a pair of second round picks in exchange for nothing but a cash payment and the Sixers’ willingness to take Chandler’s $12.8 million salary off their hands. Chandler is an unrestricted free agent after this season, at which point he’ll either sign with some team on …

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Jusuf Nurkic: Is He Any Good?

The Portland Trail Blazers rely heavily on their backcourt offensively, using Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to take most of the shots and do most of the scoring. But at the same time, they’ve got a big Bosnian in the middle of the paint defensively protecting the rim and in the low block offensively to create a focus to keep the defense from simply ranging out on Portland’s shooters and short-circuiting their offense. The big Bosnian, Jusuf Nurkic, is the subject of this week’s examination of his skillset, and on a Blazers team with aspirations toward genuine contention in the …

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