How Do Fringe NBA Teams Make the Playoffs?

It’s a maxim in the NBA that your typical 8 seed gets into the playoffs by taking care of business against bad teams and then winning just enough against other teams in their neighborhood to get a little separation when the wins are counted after 82 games. And sure, because it’s a long season, there will be some surprising wins in there, beating Houston or Golden State on the road, and there will be some cringeworthy losses, dropping a game to a tanking team at home, but for the most part, you get to that 42-win range (East) or 48-win …

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Does Trae Young Really Have a Rookie of the Year Case?

Trae Young has been picking up a ton of Rookie of the Year momentum in the giant kangaroo court that is NBA Twitter. Especially among the hey-look-at-the-highlights crowd, the Barkley and Scott-Hollins Syndrome and “eye test” people, who if you’re reading hi welcome to Pace and Space we don’t do that here, Young is the rallying cry for the backlash against a season of people anointing Luka Doncic as Rookie of the Year and treating the debate as settled. Now granted, there’s some merit to the idea that Young should get the benefit of the doubt if you believe that …

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How Deep is the NBA At Each Position?

Recently, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about the “top 10 or 15 point guards” in the league, and other superlatives that are so oddly specific that they start to veer into “great, you just designated a guy above average, what are we supposed to do, make him an All-Star?” After all, there are only 30 teams and therefore 30 starting point guards, and while some team’s backups may be better than other team’s starters, the fact remains that saying someone is the 15th-best point guard in the league is essentially saying “this guy is league-average for …

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You Don’t Need to Create Your Own Shot in the NBA Anymore

Back during the Dark Ages, someone decided that one of the greatest virtues of any scorer in the NBA was “he can create his own shot.” Meaning that a player can get the ball, isolate one-on-one against his defender, pull a series of jab steps, dribble crossovers, or whatever Harlem Globetrotters gimcrackery he learned on the playground, then get the defender out of position and hit what is inevitably a midrange jump shot. And in 2002, when every NBA team seemed to have a playbook that was dumbed down to the level of “give ball to best athlete, have best …

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The 2019 NBA All-Stars According to Advanced Stats

Sports fans are, by and large, idiots. Need proof? OK, look at the All-Star fan vote counts and take a look at Draymond Green and Derrick Rose. Sentimentality is one thing (I am all for Dwyane Wade getting an All-Star appearance as a sort of Lifetime Achievement Award for a fantastic Hall of Fame career, the same way I was OK with a washed-up Michael Jordan in 2003 and an equally ‘he’s toast’ Kobe Bryant in 2016.) I am also OK with a player becoming an instant fan favorite and getting a sort of ‘borrow against future stardom’ star next …

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The Greatest Defensive Teams in NBA History

In a basketball era where scoring is completely off the charts and the NBA seems to break its league-wide record for Offensive Rating with each passing season and with every made three-pointer, in a world gone mad where even centers like Brook Lopez are making eight triples in a game, and in a league where defense would, it seems, be a thing of the past, there are still great teams having great defensive seasons. After all, if the average team scores 110.1 points per game (as the NBA is league-wide this year, with a 109.7 Offensive Rating because pace is …

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Did the Three-Pointer Really “Kill Basketball”?

There has been plenty of complaining in NBA circles by the likes of Gregg Popovich that the 3-point shot “ruined basketball.” And on some level, having a shot that is worth fully 50% more points than other shots on the court does threaten to over-value it. After all, so far this season, teams are making 35 percent of their three-pointers, while 51.7 percent of two-pointers are going in. This means that per 100 attempts (and not counting and-ones, which we will eventually get to), teams score 105 points on threes and 103.4 points on twos. And that’s not much of …

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Trevor Ariza Breaks NBA Advanced Stats

As a general rule, advanced stats tend to move in, if not lockstep, at least some reasonable degree of correlation with each other. Higher PER, higher win shares. Higher Win Shares/48, higher Box Plus/Minus. Better BPM, better VORP. And in any combination thereof, when one stat moves, so do the others. But there’s one very notable exception; PER tends to undervalue catch-and-shoot wings. Need examples? Well, earlier this week I pointed out that Bojan Bogdanovic has a PER better than league average (15, by definition and baked in the stat) in just one season in his career, namely this one, …

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The NBA’s Most-Entertaining-Team Power Rankings

If you have NBA League Pass, and all you’re using it for is to watch your favorite team because you live out of market, you are badly shortchanging yourself basketball-wise. (I mean yeah, don’t get me wrong, I love the Pacers, but I am first and foremost a lover of fine basketball and I must admit that Indiana doesn’t always play the most entertaining brand of basketball out there.) So for you, the League Pass viewer, I’m going to offer you a very simple statistical model to rank 1-30 the teams you should be watching if you like entertaining basketball. …

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Gregg Popovich Needs To Retire Right Now

Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, a five-time champion, the man who is to Tim Duncan what Bill Belichick is to Tom Brady in football. The Spurs won 50 games or more for 18 straight seasons between 1999-2000 and 2016-17. Stretching back to David Robinson‘s rookie year in 1989-90, San Antonio has, in all but one season (the 1996-97 tank-o-rama that netted them Duncan in the draft), won at least 47 games out of every 82 (they went 37-13 in the ’99 lockout year, a 61-21 full-season pace.) They are the ultimate proud NBA franchise. …

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