Jonathan Isaac: Is He Any Good?

One of the oldest and most basic rules of this regular feature is “never evaluate a player before his third season in the league.” Because there have been some truly dreadful debut campaigns by guys who went on to become solid NBA players. In recent years, we’ve seen De’Aaron Fox put up a truly dreadful rookie campaign, posting a minus-1.1 VORP and negative Win Shares in his first year in the league. In Year 2, Fox posted 2.3 VORP and .103 WS/48, which are the kinds of numbers you see from borderline All-Stars, and in 45 games in Year 3, …

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The 2020 NBA Eastern Conference is Historically Bad

Since 1996-97, when the Los Angeles Clippers made the playoffs with a 36-46 record (and promptly got swept in the first round by the eventual Finals team in Utah), the Western Conference has sent zero teams to the playoffs with a losing record. In that same stretch of 22 full seasons, the East has sent 12 teams to the playoffs with a losing record, the worst of which was a plug-awful Boston Celtics team that went 36-46 with Mark Blount as their second-best player by VORP (1.7) and Raef LaFrentz as the team leader in WS/48 (.137; Paul Pierce put …

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Are the 2019-20 Orlando Magic Good?

The Orlando Magic won the Southeast Division in 2018-19 mostly because somebody had to. Late in the season, it looked entirely possible that the division winner would post a losing record, and the Magic made the playoffs as a 7 seed because there weren’t 8 good teams in the other two divisions in the East (it turned out there were seven, with the Bulls, Cavs, and Knicks finishing 13-15 in the conference. The Southeast Division took spots 9 through 12 inclusive.) Thankfully, the NBA did away with division seeding a few years back, so the 42-40 Magic didn’t get a …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part III: Southeast Division

In the previous two editions of this series, we took a look at the best and worst contracts in the Atlantic and Central Divisions, and we finish our look at the Eastern Conference today with the Dumpster fire that is the Southeast Division—a division Orlando won with a 42-40 record and sent no other teams to the playoffs. Which, in turn, points to the wisdom of the NBA making its playoff standards division agnostic. In the old days, the 4 seed Magic would’ve hosted the 5 seed Celtics in Game 1 of the first round, a Celtics team that won …

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Breakfast Special: Nice Knowin’ Ya, Brett Brown

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award for seeing the Sixers through the deepest dark of the Process and into the playoffs. But the question needs asked: Is Brown going to be tarred with the brush of a “rebuilding coach”, the guy you hire when you’re going to do a franchise teardown and then let go when the team is good to bring in a guy who’s more a veteran-leadership playoff coach in the mold of guys like Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Phil Jackson? Not that there’s anything wrong with turnaround guys; for every …

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Breakfast Special: Blazin’ the Nets in Portland

There were only four NBA games on Monday night, so of course one of them had to go 10 extra minutes to make up for it. The Portland Trail Blazers held home court, clinched a playoff berth, and made the race between 6 and 9 in the East a little more interesting by dropping the Brooklyn Nets 148-144. Damian Lillard was wildly inefficient in this one, scoring 32 points but requiring 31 shots to do it, while D’Angelo Russell wasn’t much better for Brooklyn with 39 points on 16-of-34. All the same, even by the standards of double ovetime, this …

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Breakfast Special: Better Than the Oscars

If the Academy Awards taught us anything last night, it’s that there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than performative wokeness in the service of its own racism. But this is a basketball column, so I’m not going to rant about “Green Book” winning Best Picture, instead choosing to rant about the NBA sticking us with three games that were anything but Oscar bait. But on the other hand… The Knicks Are an Ed Wood Jr. Movie New York beat San Antonio because they can’t even tank right (or San Antonio is a disaster on the road, take your pick.) Earlier this …

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Breakfast Special: Limping into the Break

There were three games in the NBA Thursday night, and from the looks of them, the players on some of those teams were already dreaming of wherever it is they’re spending All-Star week, whether it’s at some travel destination, at the game itself, or just home with their families getting healthy and enjoying a brief respite from the long grind of the NBA season. The net result of all this was that we got some real stinker games. Like… Charlotte Fixes a Problem There are two ways you can fix the problem of having a positive point differential and a …

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Breakfast Special: James Harden, LVP

Allow me a moment of gleeful bias in an otherwise objective statistical and visual roundup of NBA action. Because James Harden shot 1-of-17 from three-point land, making one more three-pointer than Ben Simmons did yesterday, as the Rockets lost to the Magic 116-109. But here is why Harden is fundamentally absurd. He had 38 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds, shot 11-of-32 from the field overall, and made 15-of-16 from the line, and every nitwit who’s willing to ignore his blatant manipulation of the referees and horrible shooting when they’re not giving him the calls (and the turnovers; he’s averaging …

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Nikola Vucevic: Is He Any Good?

This week, we’re taking a look at Nikola Vucevic, a guy who’s getting some All-Star buzz in the East even as he flies under the radar as the center of an Orlando Magic team firmly planted in that Mediocrity Hell between the Easy First-Round Outs (Miami, Brooklyn, and Charlotte, of whom only the Heat are even so much as at .500; the other two squads are below it through games of January 10) and the Panzer Battalion that is the Hawks, Bulls, Knicks, and Cavaliers. The Magic are in 10th place in the East, 2.5 games out of eighth place …

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