Achtung Panzer! #4: The Tanking New York Knicks

The New York Knicks, owners of the worst record in the NBA through games of December 6 (and as this goes to press currently trailing the Pacers) at 4-18, just took that “things have officially gone too far” step and fired coach David Fizdale. Which means a team on pace to win just 15 games has franchise upheaval just as they’re starting to try to bring along promising rookie RJ Barrett, and if that isn’t the most Knicks thing you can imagine, just wait until interim coach Mike Miller slowly loses his mind having to salvage something from this dumpster …

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James Harden is a “Thirsty Scorer.” What is a Thirsty Scorer?

On ESPN Thursday morning, Max Kellerman referred to the Rockets’ James Harden as “the thirstiest scorer, but not the best scorer.” The quip set NBA Twitter on fire—Kellerman wasn’t the first to use the term, but he has certainly at least for the moment popularized it—but what it didn’t do was explain just what the heck a thirsty scorer is and what separates one from a great scorer. Fortunately, we can invoke Sheed’s Law around here—ball don’t lie—and devise a stat which we’ll call Thirst Points to separate efficient scoring (there are plenty of stats for that) from pure, selfish, …

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Myles Turner Vs. the Filthy Casuals

One of the problems with social media is it gives an equal forum to experts and idiots, watering down the discussion and often drowning out nuanced discussion with the bleating of Orwellian sheep. And while the first thing one might immediately think of is politics and “the death of democracy” (how’s that for irony when the idea is to give everyone a voice?), sports suffer from it far more insidiously. Take Myles Turner for example. The Indiana Pacers standout is averaging 12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 31.1 minutes per game, causing a certain subset of Pacers Twitter …

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Achtung Panzer! #3: The Tanking Atlanta Hawks

Losers of nine straight and 12 of 13, the Atlanta Hawks now stand 4-15, dead last in the Eastern Conference and just half a game ahead of the woeful Golden State Warriors for the worst record in the NBA. A team that was supposed to have their breakout year instead finds itself mired in the throes of awful, as John Collins serves a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, Kevin Huerter sits in street clothes with injury, and Trae Young puts up monster stat lines (like his 49-point outburst against the Indiana Pacers on Black Friday) in …

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Indiana Pacers: By the Numbers Through 16 Games

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching, and before we all head out on congested roads for plywood turkey, salmonella stuffing, that uncle that nobody can stand any of the other 364 days of the year, and riots masquerading as commerce on Black Friday, let us take a moment to examine whether the Indiana Pacers, at 10-6 following a win Monday over the Memphis Grizzlies, are overwhelming, underwhelming, or merely whelming statistically. Pardon my lack of my normal erudition in this space; I work back office for a retailer and it’s been my job to make sure the point of sale …

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Statistical Test: How Well Does Net Rating Correlate With Wins?

There is a maxim that this site lives by, and most of you who follow me on Twitter (@RealFoxD) know what I’m about to say: “Great teams win big and lose close.” Which, in layman’s terms, ultimately reduces to the fact that the higher a team’s point differential over the course of a season, the more games they win. It makes logical, intuitive, downright obvious sense. But the bigger question at work here is “just how much is, say, an extra point per game worth over the course of an 82-game season?” Since this site’s inception, I’ve used an assumption …

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Achtung Panzer! #2: The Tanking Portland Trail Blazers

Some teams, you know they’re tanking. They dump salary, let G-League rejects and second-rounders have big minutes, sign just enough veteran salaries to get above the league’s salary floor, and go out there and suck the way everyone knows they’re destined to suck. And then there are the 2019-20 Portland Trail Blazers, with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and a 5-11 record good for 14th place in the Western Conference above only last week’s Achtung Panzer entrant, the Golden State Warriors. The Blazers, on paper, shouldn’t be this bad. But there are clear signs that they are stealth tanking, convincing casual …

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America’s Greatest Slovenian: Luka Doncic’s November MVP Case

Luka Doncic is on pace for 17.6 Win Shares while nearly averaging a 30-point triple-double (29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game). He has 3.0 Win Shares…on a Dallas Mavericks team that, in total, has nine wins. Do the math. The Mavs, on pace for 49 wins, are getting fully a third of their advanced stat value from a single player, the greatest second-year player since LeBron James on the 2004-05 Cleveland Cavaliers, and Luka is doing this not only with arguably just as bad a supporting cast (news flash: Kristaps Porzingis‘ reputation is greater than his actual …

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How Well Do the Indiana Pacers Force Other Teams Into Bad Shots?

On Sunday in this space, I introduced the D’Antoni Index, a stat that combines three hallmarks of efficient basketball—3-pointers, shots near the rim, and free throws—into one handy stat that can be compared team to team and game to game against either a team itself (do they improve during the season?) or against the league (by using league average as the “index” part of the stat’s name.) The worst team in the league for D’Antoni Index is, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Indiana Pacers, one reason the #FireNate chants echo across Twitter every time the Pacers lose a …

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The D’Antoni Index: A Simple Statistical Test for NBA Coach Quality

We have spoken before in this space about Scott-Hollins Syndrome, the affliction (named for Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins) whereby a coach can destroy his team’s chances at a championship through nothing more than failing to adopt modern NBA offensive principles. If your team shoots lots of midrange jumpers, never attacks the rim, and shoots about as many threes as NBA teams did before 1979 (I hope to the gods you don’t need this joke explained to you), then it is your duty and obligation as a fan to call your local sports talk radio station, go on Twitter, and …

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