5 NBA Teams Are 4-1. They’re Completely Different.

As the NBA heads into the 2021 calendar year, the 76ers, Pacers, Magic, Clippers, and Suns are all 4-1, tied for first in their respective conferences. Indeed, the Magic were the last unbeaten holdout, winning their first four games before losing to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve. But if five games have taught us anything, there’s more than one way to win four out of five in professional basketball. Let’s take a look at the five best teams in the league as of ten days into the season and see what they have in common…and what makes no sense about …

Read More

A Study In Glorious Failure Part 2: Mike D’Antoni

Yesterday, we did a deep dive into the legacy of Don Nelson, Hall of Famer, legendary coach…and one-time conference finalist without so much as an NBA Finals appearance, never mind a ring. But no discussion of the Marty Schottenheimers of the NBA is complete without the recently-sacked maven of Houston Rockets playoff disappointment, good ol’ Mike D’Antoni. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love MDA and campaigned for him to be the new head coach of my beloved Indiana Pacers. But nobody in the history of basketball coaching embodied “live by the sword, die by the sword” like Mr. Seven …

Read More

Steve Nash: Was He Any Good?

Steve Nash is a Hall of Famer, one of the best players never to win an NBA championship, and one of the key figures along with Amar’e Stoudamire and coach Mike D’Antoni who helped bring the NBA out of the Dark Ages in the mid-aughts. He is a four-time member of the 50/40/90 Club, an 8-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA, 5-time NBA leader in assists, and two-time MVP. And speaking of the 50/40/90 Club, he averaged those numbers across 8 years of his prime in Phoenix plus 141 games at the beginning of his career before he went to join the …

Read More

Learning How to Win: The Renaissance of T.J. Warren

Back toward the beginning of the season, I applied some history from my days as a boxing writer to surmise that there are some NBA players who, by virtue of playing on Dumpster fire teams for their early careers, learn how to lose and as such become liabilities when the game is on the line. One of my examples, Kemba Walker, was one of the worst clutch players in the league when he was in Charlotte, shooting atrocious percentages in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime when shooting to tie or take the lead. And for …

Read More

Whoa, Devin Booker Isn’t Trash Anymore!

When the Phoenix Suns got off to a hot start and Devin Booker appeared to be maturing into the player that Suns fans have always claimed he could be, I was hesitant to move off my belief that Booker is nothing more than a great stats, bad team guy who puts up gaudy counting stats while doing nothing of value to help his team win. Well, it’s November 14 as this goes to press, the Suns are 6-4 and just gave the Lakers all they wanted and then some in a hard-fought loss on the road, if the season ended …

Read More

Are the 2019-20 Phoenix Suns Good?

With the possible exception of the New York Knicks, is there a bigger Dumpster fire of a franchise in the NBA or indeed all of sports than the Phoenix Suns? As the Pacific Division is last up on the docket before the season starts, we get the benefit of having watched the preseason come and go as these previews go live, and the Suns in particular have had their disaster-movie status confirmed not by their own play on the court (these games are meaningless and have no predictive value for the regular season) but by three guys who aren’t even …

Read More

NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part VI: Pacific Division

As we wrap up our look at NBA contracts, a few things—good and bad—about Wiggins Factor as a stat start to come through in the analysis. In one case, it’s a sins-of-the-father argument… This really should say ‘the Wolves HAD one of the worst front offices in the league’. None of those bad contracts were signed by the current regime. — Jake Paynting (@jakepaynting) August 23, 2019 It’s going to take the new front office awhile to take out the trash. And in another case, it’s an example of Stewart’s Maxim: “It’s not funny anymore when it’s your guy.” @RealFoxD …

Read More

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 …

Read More

Breakfast Special: The Pacers Stink on National TV

Smart Pacers fans knew to watch anything besides ABC yesterday, as smart Pacers fans saw the 106-89 beatdown—featuring 30 second-half points and some of the worst shooting the team’s put up all year—coming down Broad Street in Philadelphia with its doors open. Take a returning Joel Embiid, on the road, on national TV, and that’s a perfect storm for the 76ers to dominate, and so (at least after halftime) they dominated, all while Pacers fans resigned ourselves to wishing we had the dulcet tones of Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner on Fox Sports Indiana/League Pass to soothe our souls instead …

Read More

Breakfast Special: Achtung Panzer!

The New York Knicks just played the most important game of their season, a showdown in Phoenix with the future of the franchise at stake. And the Knicks gloriously lost the game 107-96, getting out on the dance floor to do the Prokhorovka Shuffle and pull a game and a half ahead of the Suns for last place in the NBA; the Knicks are 13-52 against the Suns’ 15-51. Great work, New York. Devin Booker, a guy who exists in a weird vacuum where he puts up All-Star scoring numbers and does absolutely nothing beyond that to help his team …

Read More