Which Defensive Stats Matter Most in the NBA in 2021?

The Milwaukee Bucks have built a 27-14 record on three defensive pillars. One, don’t let the other team get good looks. The Bucks are ninth in opponents’ eFG% despite being 20th in opponents’ 3PT%. They’re forcing opponents into bad two-point shots and stand fourth in that metric. Even though teams shoot well and often from three, it’s offset by their inability to get to the rim and get an easy two. Two, limit the other team to one shot. Milwaukee is tied with the Orlando Magic for the best defensive rebounding percentage in the league. And three, defend without fouling; …

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A Study In Glorious Failure Part 1: Don Nelson

There have, in the annals of NBA history, been great players who never won a title. The mere mention of the concept immediately brings to mind a slew of guys who, because they came through the league during the reign of a team they weren’t on, retired without that elusive ring. Like “every star in the league who wasn’t on the Celtics in the 1960s.” Or “Every star in the league who was in his prime between 1991 and 1998 and wasn’t on the Bulls or Rockets.” Or the stars of the Dark Ages who weren’t on the Lakers or …

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Anatomy of a Fleecing: How NBA Teams Make Bad Trades

As this goes to press, Twitter is exploding with news that the Milwaukee Bucks traded Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and (get ready, folks) three first-round picks and two future pick swaps to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday. The Bucks are in blatant win-now mode trying to put a Big Three together (and saying in no uncertain terms that Bledsoe is not a Big Three third guy) alongside two-time reigning MVP and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton. But in the process, they’ve pretty much told their fans “if Giannis leaves in …

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Are the 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks Good?

The Milwaukee Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018-19 before falling to a team of destiny in the Toronto Raptors, who went on to win the NBA championship. This year, Kawhi Leonard is in Los Angeles, the Bucks find themselves atop one of the weakest divisions (if the Pacers run aground on injury problems) in the league, and expectations are so high that the squad has the highest over/under win total in the league at 57. You’ll notice that’s three wins less than the 60-22 record they put up in 2018-19, meaning that if MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

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Breakfast Special: Bucks Die by the Sword in Toronto

Rigidity of doctrine, no matter where it crops up, is a killer. It’s how once-prosperous businesses fail, it’s how politics stagnates into nations and empires in decline, and it’s how armies lose wars before the first shot is fired. For Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, his rigidity of doctrine in terms of his offense and his commitment to minutes and rotations got him completely outcoached by Nick Nurse (!) as the Toronto Raptors beat Milwaukee 100-94 in Game 6 and won the series four games to two after dropping the first two games on the road in Milwaukee and looking …

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Breakfast Special: Fred VanVleet Comes Back from the Dead

Earlier in the Eastern Conference Finals, when the Milwaukee Bucks won the first two games and nearly ended up going up 3-0 on the road in Toronto, Fred VanVleet was so utterly awful that Raptors fans were ready to throw him off the CN Tower and openly questioned coach Nick Nurse on social media about his usage of the embattled guard. Well…fast forward to Game 5, where the Raptors, after winning Game 3 in overtime and taking Game 4 easily at home, traveled to Milwaukee and busted this series wide open, going up 3-2 with a 105-99 win that sends …

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Breakfast Special: The Raptors Missed the Surrender Memo

After a 120-102 Toronto win in a game that the Milwaukee Bucks did not play particularly poorly in, and after the Eastern Conference Finals got evened at two games apiece, and after we all collectively realized that the Bucks don’t have nearly the kind of playoff experience you need to show out and dominate at this level quite yet—not to say they’re going to lose the series, only that they look like they’re “a year away”—we have got ourselves a series. Granted, it’s a series where the home team has so far won all four games, but when the Raptors …

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Breakfast Special: Scott Foster’s Rigged Game 3 Adventure

I risk sounding like yet another angry NBA casual when I complain about the officiating, but even in double overtime, 60 fouls, Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and Giannis Antetokounmpo all watching Game of Thrones on their tablets while their teammates play a basketball game that completely screwed up the East Coast’s HBO viewing (even the second most-popular sports league in America knew better than to try and mess with the biggest TV finale since Seinfeld)… …well, let’s just say Scott Foster should never, ever be allowed to officiate a playoff game again, because the only thing more puzzling than the …

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Breakfast Special: Massive Milwaukee Mismatch

The Milwaukee Bucks played like absolute garbage in Game 1 and beat the Toronto Raptors anyway. The Bucks played more like the team that won 60 games in the regular season in Game 2 and stomped the Raptors 125-103. People sometimes forget that this Bucks team was tops in the entire league in Defensive Rating in the regular season, and with the exception of Kawhi Leonard, who had 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, the Raptors could not solve the Bucks’ defense. Raptors not named Kawhi shot 27-of-69 (39.1 percent) and the squad shot just 42.5 percent overall. Milwaukee, during the …

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