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 …

Read More

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, …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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, …

Read More

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, …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More

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 …

Read More