The 2021 Brooklyn Nets: Overrated or Underrated?

The Brooklyn Nets were supposed to self-destruct. With Kevin Durant‘s questionable health following a ruptured Achilles, an injury that has effectively claimed the career of all players 30 and older to suffer it before him, the Nets were supposed to have a reliability problem that would drag them down the way Durant missing all of the 2020 season dragged them down in the bubble. With Kyrie Irving and James Harden two of the biggest head cases in the league, they were supposed to be at each other’s throats in as much time as it took coach Steve Nash to try …

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Can the Miami Heat Void Meyers Leonard’s Contract?

Meyers Leonard, the Ivan Drago lookalike center who has been in street clothes due to a shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the season, did the second-dumbest thing an NBA player can do, and now his team is at a decision point. I say “second-dumbest” because “getting caught on a hot mic using an anti-Semitic slur” is only slightly less dumb than the same scenario but using or implying the N-word—see Sterling comma Donald for the fallout of that particular error in judgment. But still, using a word guaranteed to offend not only Miami Heat owner Micky Arison …

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The 2021 Minnesota Timberwolves: A Living Worst-Case Scenario

Remember the lead-up to the 2020 NBA draft, when people were openly questioning whether Anthony Edwards had the makeup mentally to be a contributor to a pro team and whether he cared enough about the game to be any good? Or remember the many, many times stat nerds with media mouthpieces pointed out that Ricky Rubio is one of the worst-shooting point guards of the past 40 years? Or maybe the chorus of voices who looked at his time with Andrew Wiggins as his best teammate as a sign that the career of Karl-Anthony Towns was going nowhere fast? Or …

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Welcome to the Indiana Pacers Collapse

On January 27, the Indiana Pacers beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-106, ran their record to 11-7, and looked like they might even make a surge and ride it all the way to a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference, which is as bad as any NBA conference has been below its top teams in 40 years. As this article goes to press, the Pacers are 15-18, losing four straight and five of their last six. They are 4-11 since that win in late January. The natural question is “what happened?” Well, you know how the cracks were showing as early …

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Examining the Lakers Without Anthony Davis

The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves without the services of their second and, arguably, third-best players in Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder during a stretch in which they lost four in a row and five out of six games to drop from 21-6 and nipping at the heels of the red-hot Utah Jazz (who are an astonishing 27-7 and look every bit like a Finals team) to 22-11 and at risk of falling below the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers to drop all the way into fourth place and a second-round matchup with that Jazz team. The moral of …

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The NBA Eastern Conference Was Bad in 2020. It’s Getting Worse in 2021.

Almost exactly one year ago (on February 24, 2020), this site took a look at the Eastern Conference and noted that the last time a 7 seed had a losing record before it happened again with the 35-37 Brooklyn Nets was when the Boston Celtics went 40-42 in 2015. The Orlando Magic finished 33-40, which prorated to 82 games is a 37-45 record, itself the worst record by a playoff team since the Indiana Pacers won 37 games in 2011 and grabbed the 8 seed. Even worse, the ninth-best winning percentage in the East in 2020 was the 23-42 (.354) …

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There Are No New Indiana Pacers Stories

Everything that can be said about the 2021 Indiana Pacers has already been said, and we’re just two months into the regular season. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon are the stars, and this team is a G-League team without both of them healthy. Myles Turner is what he is at this point; an elite shotblocker who can’t rebound and is such a liability on offense that no amount of involving him as a stretch 5 is going to change the fact that he’s just not a scorer. The sole upside of this is that his four-year, $72 million contract is …

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In Search of the “League Average” NBA Player (Part 3: VORP)

In the previous two iterations of this series, we took a look at PER and WS/48 in an effort to determine what constitutes a “league average” NBA player—that is, a guy who is basically a 41-41 team over 82 games (man, remember 82-game seasons? Such nostalgia) distilled into one player across one season. Today, we take a few steps back and consider not just the VORP per 82 games of the guys we’ve considered so far, a cross-section of players from the 2019 and 2020 seasons who had league-average PER (between 14.8 and 15.2) or WS/48 (between .095 and .105) …

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The NBA’s Hot Garbage Media Ruins the Sport

Today is Valentine’s Day, and with the steaming hot smell of breakups accompanying some petty BS argument between partners in a relationship wafting up from the frozen tundra of a brutal 2021 winter and your columnist too snowed in by the greater Seattle area’s complete failure to understand the concept of “winter storm awareness” to get businesses back up and running and with COVID and the American vaccine response a complete failure so egregious that it makes the owners and front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-20! Jesus, guys, get it together!) look like a triumph of leadership to make …

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In Search of the “League Average” NBA Player (Part 2: WS/48)

Last week, we looked at PER to try and figure out just what constitutes a “league average” NBA player. Since that stat is normalized to 15 every season, it gave us a cross-section of players across positions and even perceived talent levels (any time you have Brook Lopez, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier on the same list, that’s a wide swath to cut.) But Tatum especially is nothing even resembling “league average”. He’s become the breakout star on a Celtics team that has made three of the last four Eastern Conference finals. Hardly “league average”. So let’s try a stat …

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