Larry Bird vs. LeBron James At Age 30: Who Was Really Better?

This graphic has been making the rounds on Facebook. It’s a collection of cherry-picked counting stats without context about Larry Bird and LeBron James. In case that’s not showing up in detail on your mobile device: Bird: 28.1 pts/9.2 reb/7.6 ast/52.2 FG%/26.4 PER. LeBron: 25.3 pts/6.0 reb/7.4 ast/48.8 FG%/25.8 PER. The moral of the story, such as it seems to be, is that Bird soundly beats LeBron, and if you go by counting stats, at age 30 that’s absolutely the case. Things fall apart in a hurry when you start into Advanced Stats 101. We begin by breaking down those …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Eric Bledsoe’s Sweet Release

Eric Bledsoe finally got what he wanted, and hopefully whichever hair salon in Milwaukee his wife chooses, he won’t have to tweet that he doesn’t want to be there. The former Suns guard got himself traded to Milwaukee in exchange for Greg Monroe and a protected first-round pick, so Phoenix essentially got nothing. The question for the Bucks becomes whether Bledsoe’s volume-shooting game, trouble staying healthy, and need for the ball will fit their offensive needs. It’s an open question. Meanwhile, the Bucks dropped to 4-6 with a 124-119 loss in Cleveland. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points on 16-of-21, Khris …

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For the Indiana Pacers, Losing Is Productive

It’s a funny thing about expectations. When the Indiana Pacers still had Paul George and had designs on a deep playoff run, every loss, especially the kind of blown-fourth-quarter-lead loss endemic to bad teams, was a rage-inducing moment for fans, who got vicious and called for the heads of coaches and front office people. Now that PG13 is in Oklahoma City and the Indiana core is young enough that no small few of them are still on their rookie contracts or the extensions that came from them, those same losses are chalked up to the growing pains of an up-and-coming …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Dub Nation Defense

The Golden State Warriors are good at defense. Everyone always forgets this. Dub Nation got to see a slugfest at the Oracle Arena Monday night, as the Warriors beat Miami 97-80, dominating the boards 51-44 including a 13-7 edge on the offensive glass. They held the Heat to just 36.1 percent shooting from the field and limited Hassan Whiteside to only three points and six rebounds. Nobody on Golden State made more than five shots; all of their Big 4 made that many, but Stephen Curry missed 14 shots, Klay Thompson missed ten, Kevin Durant whiffed on eight, and Draymond …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Kristaps Porzingis, Pacers Killer

Kristaps Porzingis might as well just grow a horn out his forehead and make it official, because the NBA’s unicorn just had one of those games where he did to the Indiana Pacers what Reggie Miller used to do to the New York Knicks all those years ago in the playoffs. Porzingis went for 40 points, including at one point scoring 15 straight Knicks points as they roared back from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit in a game where they trailed by as many as 19, pulling out a 108-101 lead behind a 36-17 final frame. I mean, it’s pretty much …

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Why Assists Are A Useless NBA Stat

In a year where Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double while being only third in the league (behind James Harden and John Wall) in assists, yet at the same time putting up the highest assist percentage (as in percent of teammates’ baskets assisted while he’s on the floor) by a player not named John Stockton in NBA history, and while all three guys I just mentioned are on playoff teams, we need to ask and answer one simple question. Is ball movement really all it’s cracked up to be? As in, do assisted baskets have greater effect on wins than …

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Total Team Effort: Does Spreading the Scoring Lead to NBA Wins?

A staple of our NBA coverage has been an unofficial team stat called the Total Team Effort, defined as any game in which seven or more players score in double figures. The general assumption is that either the team distributed the ball well with the starters and made good use of the time they had their second unit in, or the game was a blowout and therefore the bench guys just got enough minutes for two of them to top the 10-point threshold. The NBA is also a star-driven league; you often hear stories like “Westbrook scores 50 as the …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Lonzo Ball Still Sucks

Damian Lillard was a hero on national television. Lonzo Ball continued to live up to his moniker of Dollar Store Westbrook, managing to fail to score, get rebounds, and dish assists. Ball had zero points on 0-of-2 shooting as he got frozen out of the Lakers’ offense at a time when if he’d been as good as the idiot yahoo on Twitter who once tried to tell me that Ball would average a triple-double (this was after that game in Phoenix the first week of the season), Los Angeles might not have lost the game. Instead, Lillard did this… IT'S …

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Is This NBA Player Any Good?: C.J. McCollum

Any discussion of great NBA backcourts always seems to eventually veer to Portland and the Blazers’ combination of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Their scoring prowess is unrivaled, but there’s more to quality basketball than simply putting the ball in the basket. You’ve got to stop the other guy from doing it too, for example. With that in mind, and with acknowledgment that Lillard is one of the top 20 players in the league in a bunch of the advanced stats, let’s put the spotlight on the other guy in this partnership and ask a simple question: Is C.J. McCollum …

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NBA Breakfast Special: LeBron’s Trauma to the Groin

Sing it with me folks, because LeBron just got “nothing’s quite as funny as a trauma to the groin” treatment from Lance Stephenson: If you haven’t seen it yet, well, shield your eyes… Lance Stephenson got a flagrant 1 for this shot to LeBron's groin. pic.twitter.com/nFs0o9lyTY — SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 2, 2017 On the bright side, Pacers Twitter had plenty of fun with it: Roses are red Women are thicc The Pacers are goodLance hit LeBron in the dick pic.twitter.com/TRLYfFqtgG — Miller Time Podcast (@MillerTimePod) November 2, 2017 The Pacers won 124-107, finishing the game on an 18-6 run in …

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