A Study In Glorious Failure Part 2: Mike D’Antoni

Yesterday, we did a deep dive into the legacy of Don Nelson, Hall of Famer, legendary coach…and one-time conference finalist without so much as an NBA Finals appearance, never mind a ring. But no discussion of the Marty Schottenheimers of the NBA is complete without the recently-sacked maven of Houston Rockets playoff disappointment, good ol’ Mike D’Antoni. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love MDA and campaigned for him to be the new head coach of my beloved Indiana Pacers. But nobody in the history of basketball coaching embodied “live by the sword, die by the sword” like Mr. Seven …

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Kevin Willis, The Greatest Lousy NBA Player

A few years ago, Jon Bois of SBNation did an episode of Chart Party where he talked about Jeff Francoeur, describing him as “my favorite worst baseball player.” The idea was that “Frenchy” had one of the most explosive first months of a career in the history of Major League Baseball, then dropped off a cliff. Go watch it. It’s good. The weird part is despite that, he lasted 12 years in the league, played in over 1400 major league games for his career, and all this despite frequently ending up with negative Wins Above Replacement (for those who don’t …

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Russell Westbrook’s Nonexistent Trade Value

When an NBA front office decides whether to trade for a player, there are a few questions that need to be answered before either pulling the trigger or calling the other team back to say “no dice.” The first and most obvious is “is the guy we’re trading for any good?” There are plenty of reasons to trade for a guy who sucks, and we’ll get into why as we go down this list of questions, but as a good rule of thumb, you don’t trade for players who suck. The second is “how much money does he make and …

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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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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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Robert Horry: Was He Any Good?

The ultimate counter-arguments to “count the rings” as a measure of NBA greatness exist in the forms of James Jones (“the only player besides LeBron James to appear in eight straight NBA Finals since the merger”, because Jones was LeBron’s teammate first in Miami and then in Cleveland), Steve Kerr (piggybacked off Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan to win five rings), and our subject for today, Robert Horry, Big Shot Rob Himself, a legend of the ’90s and the Dark Ages who won a combined seven rings with the Rockets, Spurs, and Lakers, or “more rings than anyone who never …

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Yao Ming: Was He Any Good?

During this long dark tea time of the NBA soul, the debates worth having have gone silent in the current game, replaced by a social media wasteland of pointless and endlessly rehashed fanboy arguments that resonate like we’re all stuck in the Devil’s sports bar for all eternity or until a vaccine is developed for Covid-19, whichever comes first. Indeed, this very site has largely gone dark because (a) traffic in evergreen content is holding up just fine, and (b) I refuse to get suckered into those very arguments on a public NBA soapbox I take too much pride in …

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Are the 2019-20 Houston Rockets Good?

No team in all of sports confounds expectations quite like the Houston Rockets with the possible exception of the discussed-Monday San Antonio Spurs. They are the ultimate dichotomy, the Spurs a testament to the power of brutalist old-school efficiency on two-point shots and fundamentally sound play that left them sixth in eFG% despite being dead last in 3PAR. The Rockets are the polar opposite, freewheeling with an astounding 51.7 percent of their overall attempts on the floor coming from long range and the fourth-highest eFG% despite the seventh-worst raw FG%—that’s right folks, in case you needed reminding, three is more …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part V: Southwest Division

Welcome to Part 5 of our 6-part series taking a look at every contract in the NBA—except for rookies and two-way contracts, plus anyone who didn’t play in the league last season due to injury or having been overseas or something—and quantifying the ratio of minute-weighted dollars paid to Win Shares produced. To remind folks who haven’t read previous entries in this series: As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should produce a Wiggins Factor below 100, a rotation player with a rotation salary should be under 200, and ideally you want your superstar-level contracts …

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Breakfast Special: New Year, Same Great Choking Rockets Taste

Last year in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State, the Houston Rockets choked away Game 7 at home by missing 27 three-pointers in a row. This year, in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Rockets took a lead into the fourth quarter and choked it away, but this time they shot just fine from three-point land (43.6 percent for the game) but just couldn’t get a defensive stop when they needed one. The Warriors didn’t have Kevin Durant, and even though they should’ve been the weaker squad sans merc, they managed a win and pulled off a cool feat in …

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