Collin Sexton and De’Aaron Fox: Don’t Judge A Rook By His Cover

Collin Sexton and De’Aaron Fox had two of the worst rookie seasons it’s possible to imagine NBA players having, especially if they’re lottery picks and potential franchise cornerstones in Cleveland and Sacramento, respectively. Indeed, Sexton’s rookie year was so awful—under Basketball Reference’s revised version of VORP, Sexton had the seventh-worst rookie season in the 3-point era, and it was second-worst behind only fellow 2018 draftee Kevin Knox—that to instantly call him a bust would be an entirely understandable reaction. Fox’s rookie year in 2017-18 wasn’t much better—he ranks 45th in the 3-point era for worst VORP by a rookie—and yet …

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Chris Paul: Greatest Point Guard Ever?

Way back when I was writing my “Which Advanced Stats Make the Best GOAT Lists?” article in April of 2019, most of the results produced some version of the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan argument, as any good GOAT discussion ought to. The weird thing, though, was that while combing through the data, one name kept coming up as one of the top ten if not top-five guys of all time, and it wasn’t who you’d expect. Chris Paul is fourth all-time in Win Shares per 48 minutes, fifth in Box Plus-Minus, 10th in Value Over Replacement Player, and fifth …

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What’s the Best NBA Team You Can Build With Second-Round Picks?

During this month of 30 articles in 30 days here at Pace and Space, inspiration can come from some very interesting sources. Like this delightful distraction from constant political news that hit Twitter last night from Paul Headley: The top-5 ppg leaders among 2nd round picks is Middleton, Dinwiddie, Bogdanovic, Jokic, Harrell in that order. How many games would that team win? — Paul Headley NBA (@PaulHeadleyNBA) November 6, 2020 A starting lineup of Spencer Dinwiddie at point guard, Khris Middleton and Bojan Bogdanovic on the wings in the shooting guard and small forward positions, Montrezl Harrell at power forward, …

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Adam Silver and Michele Roberts Are the Best Leaders in Sports

The first big question to be answered after the NBA Finals concluded around the same time that the regular season would normally start up was “so when ARE they going to start next season, anyway?” Now, it appears we have that answer, as Shams Charania reported Thursday that the NBA and the union have agreed upon a 72-game 2020-21 season to begin Dec. 22. The National Basketball Players Association has voted to tentatively approve NBA’s proposal for the 2020-21 campaign starting on Dec. 22 and playing 72-game season, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. NBA set to tip off Christmas week. — …

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Sudden Death? A New NBA Overtime Rule Proposal

The NBA, like basketball leagues at most levels of the sport, uses a timed overtime period—five minutes—in order to decide games tied at the end of regulation. If the game’s still tied after that, another five minute overtime is played, as long as it takes to decide a winner at a snapshot moment at the 53, 58, 63, 68-minute mark, and so on. Quite a few folks have expressed their dissatisfaction with this, and in 2020, the NBA All-Star Game adopted the “Elam Ending”, first popularized by The Basketball Tournament. The short version of how it works is, at the …

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LeBron James’ Amazing Playoff Statistical Legacy

In March of 2019, I took a look at LeBron James‘ amazing career statistically. I talked about the Grand Triple-Double (10,000 each of points, assists, and rebounds; based on his career averages, LeBron will reach that mark sometime during the 2021-22 season if he stays healthy.) I talked about his chances of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list—he has 4,147 points to go to get to 38,388, and at his career scoring rate of 27.1 points per game, he’ll do that in two seasons, maybe early in a third if the NBA truncates the 2020-21 season to 60 …

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Who Would Past Greats Be In Today’s NBA?

Michael Jordan‘s agent, David Falk, recently said that his client would, if he were in his prime, score 60 points on 75% shooting in today’s NBA. Likewise, there’s an old familiar refrain of old-school NBA fans who claim that (insert superstar here) would never be able to hang with the Bad Boys Pistons or the Shaq and Kobe Lakers or whoever they grew up rooting for. The young folks then counter with “Bill Russell was only 6’9, he wouldn’t even make the roster today” and other such nonsense. The takeaway, generally, is that “you can’t compare players across eras, so …

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The NBA: The Best Sport For Analytics

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic messing up the schedule for the NBA, most of the people normally tweeting about the nascent NBA season that’s underway by the end of October have turned their attention to football; the World Series is over, hockey has the same questions surrounding the beginning of next season as basketball does, but the NFL—with a few interruptions when players test positive for the virus ahead of gameday—marches on. And one thing NBA Stat Nerd Twitter tends to notice when watching football is the sheer volume of suboptimal play that comes with the territory in your average …

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Daryl Morey’s Legacy of Mediocrity

Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets have finally parted ways; for the first time since 2007, the Rockets will start a season with someone’s name other than Morey’s on the “Executive” line on Basketball Reference. Morey is rightly seen as a guy who wasn’t afraid to shake up the conventional wisdom of the NBA; he is the patron saint of the analytics movement and it is no coincidence that his arrival in Houston heralded the true end of the NBA’s Dark Ages—sure, Mike D’Antoni‘s Suns had shown us the future in 2005, and the Suns leading the league not only …

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The Indiana Pacers Hired Nate Bjorkgren. Wait, Who?!

It is no secret that this site’s official editorial position in regards to the Indiana Pacers’ coaching search was, in Dire Straits intonation, “I want my MDA.” Considering this site practically worships at the altar of 3-pointers, layups, and free throws, it makes sense; one of my coinages here is “D’Antoni Index”, a catch-all stat that combines 3PAR, FTR, and percentage of shots taken within three feet of the basket (a proxy for layups and dunks) to determine a team’s (or a coach’s) propensity for designing a system with an optimal potential average outcome per shot attempt. D’Antoni is the …

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