Is Paul George 2019 MVP Material?

Russell Westbrook was the NBA MVP in 2017, the first of what has become three straight years in which he’s averaged a triple-double. Russell Westbrook is nearly inarguably the second-best player on his own team. Yet the Thunder are 45-33, and they’re almost certain to win either 47 or 48 games this year, which were their win totals in 2017 (when Westbrook put a G-League team on his back and dragged them to the playoffs) and 2018 (when Carmelo Anthony happened.) It is against this backdrop that we’re trying to build an MVP case for Paul George. The Thunder ditched …

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Is James Harden 2019 MVP Material?

Welcome to the first of a four-part series where Is He Any Good takes on the 2019 MVP race. It’s the same as regular Is He Any Good except the bar’s been set a lot higher; the only way someone’s getting Confirmed on these is if in the estimation of the advanced stats and the Standard MVP Voter Rules™ (“best player on the best team” or exceptional statistical accomplishment like Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 or “his team would be drafting Zion Williamson if they didn’t have him”) says that he’s the MVP. We’ll be looking between now and the end …

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Devin Booker: Is He Any Good?

Devin Booker is, in the sense that the object of basketball is to score points and he once scored 70 points in a game, good at basketball. But on the other hand, basketball is a team sport and it doesn’t matter if you put up numbers higher than some professional golfers routinely put up in their sport if your efforts do not ultimately lead to your team scoring more points than the other team. The Phoenix Suns are, to put it as charitably as possible, a garbage fire. I’ll leave it to your imagination to find less charitable ways than …

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Zach LaVine: Is He Any Good?

In the NBA, there are Dunk Contest Guys and there are actually-plays-in-real-games guys as far as effectiveness is concerned. Rare is the man who can combine greatness in the dunk contest with the kind of career that, say, Michael Jordan had or Dominique Wilkins had or Vince Carter had. Look at the past few years of the dunk contest for All-Star weekend. Hamidou Diallo and Glenn Robinson III and Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. The only guy to do real damage in the dunk contest who isn’t a Dunk Contest Guy, at least not in how he’ll be remembered, was …

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Derrick Rose: Is He Any Good?

Derrick Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball, with eye test fans insisting that he’s the Sixth Man of the Year and statheads countering with “go home, you’re drunk.” Rose drew a ton of All-Star fan votes, but fan vote alone wasn’t enough to get him into the game, and when sensible people got to decide who the All-Stars were, Rose was wisely left off the list. But that’s not the question we’re asking here. We’re asking if Rose is good, and the stats in 2019 don’t care that Rose was MVP once and got a salary …

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Taj Gibson: Is He Any Good?

Defense is a thorny subject when it comes to player evaluation. On the one hand, you’ve got guys like Klay Thompson, who are excellent defenders by reputation but who get murdered in the advanced stats because they’re constantly put on the other team’s best player, and if they’re not quite the superstar defender their reputation makes them out to be, the problem compounds into a point where they have the same advanced stats as the guy who hides on the opponent’s fifth option and can’t even guard him. And on the other hand, you’ve got a guy like LeBron James, …

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Jeremy Lamb: Is He Any Good?

Jeremy Lamb has begun to evolve into not just Kemba Walker‘s safety valve in Charlotte’s offense that forces the defense to respect him but into a bona fide second or third option in Charlotte’s overall game plan. His scoring on a counting-stat basis is at a career-high level, and he’s taking a lot more shots to tie or take the lead in the close games Charlotte always seems to lose, one reason that the Hornets, with their +0.2 point differential, nonetheless carry a losing 27-29 record into the All-Star break, the third year in a row they’re posting a positive …

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Wilson Chandler: Is He Any Good?

Wilson Chandler has started 32 games of the 36 in which he’s played for the Philadelphia 76ers this year, and to say that he’s the fifth option is mainly to say that five men exist on the basketball court at one time for each of the teams. When Philadelphia acquired Chandler, Denver threw in a pair of second round picks in exchange for nothing but a cash payment and the Sixers’ willingness to take Chandler’s $12.8 million salary off their hands. Chandler is an unrestricted free agent after this season, at which point he’ll either sign with some team on …

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Malcolm Brogdon: Is He Any Good?

As Rookies of the Year go in NBA history, Malcolm Brogdon is one of those guys that you’d never remember won the award. You’d say to yourself, “OK, who was a rookie that year, Joel Embiid…Buddy Hield…Jamal Murray…Ben Sim, no, wait, Ben Simmons got hurt that year…” Brogdon, the 36th overall pick, a second-rounder, ended up walking away with the award. Of the players in that 2016 draft, Brogdon is already third in Win Shares behind Simmons and Pascal Siakam, and just ahead of Domantas Sabonis. And if you think that looks an awful lot like a pattern developing before …

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Is Luka Doncic Really an All-Star Candidate?

Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic is currently second in the fan vote, behind only LeBron James, for the Western Conference All-Star starting forwards. Lukamania has seized the nation, as he has seized the mantle from Goran Dragic as America’s Best Slovenian. But what do NBA fans know? These are the same dingbats who have Derrick Rose second among guards in the same balloting. At least Dwyane Wade‘s vote total in the East is understandable given a lot of fans don’t care about his stats, they just want to see a Farewell Tour stop that involves sharing a court (albeit as …

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