An Open Letter to #NBATwitter

Since the dawn of my basketball writing journey in 2015, I’ve relied heavily on social media in general and Twitter in particular to drive content decisions, engage with fans, and watch the culture of basketball unfold in order to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on. In particular, every friend I have in Indiana, I met on Twitter—even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, heart-on-my-sleeve Pacers fan through and through, as readers of this site learn time and again every Tuesday, my only actual connection to the Hoosier State is a girl from Elkhart I was sweet on for …

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First-Mover Advantage: Why Basketball Games Don’t End 2-0

Consider the following two equal-but-opposite scenarios in sports. On one end, you have a penalty kick in top-flight, World Cup or elite European club league soccer. The offense, as in the guy who’s about to kick the ball, knows exactly where he intends to put the ball, can do so with a nearly pinpoint degree of accuracy as he’s practiced these kicks for hours on top of hours, and as a result has almost all the control over the ensuing result. The goalkeeper is nearly helpless; at best he can try to guess where the ball is going, leap at …

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Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats (2020-21 Edition!)

Last year, early in the season when most teams had only played two or three games, I took a look at the insane NBA records that would not only fall but be shattered if the players who had wild openings to the season kept up that pace for 82 games. After Trae Young went for 37 points on just 12 shots and for one game had an absolutely bonkers PER of 59, it was clear that a sequel was in order. So welcome to the Second Annual Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics column! Rather than get caught …

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Happy 129th Birthday, Basketball

On December 21, 1891, in a gym in Springfield, Massachusetts, a Canadian physical education instructor by the name of James Naismith nailed a couple of peach baskets to the walls, rolled out a soccer ball, and created the most “I probably don’t need to tell you what you’re supposed to do” simplicity-itself moment in the history of sports. Indeed, other than soccer itself—a ball, two goals at opposite ends of a pitch, and a self-evident implied instruction as to what one is supposed to do that is so simple that a five-year-old child can easily play the ensuing game—there is …

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The Bizarre Coaching Career of Bill Fitch

When the NBA named its 50 Greatest Players on the occasion of its 50th anniversary season in 1996, they also named a list of the 10 greatest coaches. And on that list was a guy who had a losing record for his career on the sideline, a guy whose 55-54 playoff record was all but completely the result of coaching in Boston in the early 1980s, a guy who has the second-most coaching losses in NBA history. The guy is Bill Fitch. And how he got to a 944-1106 career coaching record, led only by Lenny Wilkens in losses (and …

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The NBA’s Brilliant 2020-21 Schedule Plan

Earlier this month, when the NBA announced a 72-game season to commence on December 22, I posed the question “when’s the season supposed to end? How are they supposed to avoid cramming in too many games in not enough time like they did when they started a 66-game season on December 25 back in the 2011-12 season?” Well, the NBA seems to have learned its lesson from the mistakes made during and after the 2011 lockout, and they’ve taken a powerful first step toward making the 2020-21 season a success. First off, the planned end of the season is May …

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2013 NBA Draft: Drafting the Decent

Wrapping up Draft Week, let’s take a look back at 2013, the greatest collection of good-not-great mediocrity ever to go in the first round. Sure, the first round produced three All-Stars—Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, and Victor Oladipo—but this was otherwise in hindsight a draft that was so beautifully “blah”, so dreary in its mediocrity, and oh by the way included one of the worst first-overall-pick busts in NBA history (Anthony Bennett) that it goes down in history as a special sort of screwed up. There are no second-round salvations to be had in this draft the way there were in …

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2002: The Last NBA Draft Before The Fever Broke

An old saying holds that the darkest hour is just before the dawn. For the NBA, this was certainly true of the 2002 draft. A year before LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, and a slew of journeymen and role players arrived to haul the NBA out of the Dark Ages, the league barfed out one last wretched draft class to ensure that the league wouldn’t emerge from the doldrums until that next draft class came of age. Yao Ming went first overall to the Houston Rockets, and while in theory that’s a great way to start a …

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2000: Possibly the Worst NBA Draft Ever

As the 2020 NBA Draft wraps up and people who actually follow the college game because they mistakenly believe it provides insight into an NBA player’s potential go nuts over their team’s selections, it’s time to take a moment and look back into the past when great players stepped up to the podium as the beginning of their Hall of Fame journey to greatness… …nah, forget all that. It’s time to go ahead and dig a prime example out of the vault of why the college game is stupid, the NBA Draft is stupid, and you can’t tell a single …

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Remembering the 1986 NBA Draft: Coke Is It!

What do you get when you cross Rasheed Wallace with Eric Clapton? You get the 1986 NBA draft. Because ball don’t lie, ball don’t lie, ball don’t lie…cocaine. The ’86 draft represents a low point in what was otherwise a seemingly uninterrupted 19-year run of awesome for the league, from the 1979 draft (where Magic Johnson went first overall and, after Larry Bird finished his senior season at Indiana State, he finally took up the mantle of having been the sixth overall pick a year earlier and joined the Celtics as a rookie) through “The Last Shot” at the end …

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