Antoine Walker: Was He Any Good?

Antoine Walker is as well-known for being a punchline in jokes about broke athletes (thanks to blowing $100 million on bad investments) as he was for anything he ever did on a basketball court. The epitome of both wasted potential and hilariously inefficient shooting—well, it was funny if you were a fan of the other team—Walker is a guy whose legacy is one of a cautionary tale. But he was also the second-best player on a Celtics team that nearly went to the NBA Finals at a time when the Eastern Conference existed entirely to provide cannon fodder for the …

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Mitch Richmond: Was He Any Good?

The early-90s “Run TMC” combination of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin was supposed to be the Next Big Thing in the NBA as the sun set on the era of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Isiah Thomas. Michael Jordan inherited the mantle of Eastern Conference dominance that Boston and Detroit vacated, while the new power in the West was supposed to include the Warriors alongside the Gary Payton/Shawn Kemp Sonics, the John Stockton/Karl Malone Jazz, Hakeem Olajuwon‘s Rockets, and the Charles Barkley Show in Phoenix once the 76ers finally got rid of the disgruntled Round Mound of Rebound. …

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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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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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