How Much Value Do G-League Replacement Players Have?

One of the most useful catch-all stats in the advanced statistician’s playbook is VORP, Value Over Replacement Player. Like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in baseball, VORP distills the value of a player’s entire offensive and defensive contribution on the floor to one number, defined by Basketball Reference as “A box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.” Very long story very short, this means that a team full of replacement players would post a -5.4 net rating, and …

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How Much Do High-Volume, Low-Efficiency Shooters Hurt NBA Teams?

In the NBA, there’s a certain class of scorer who puts up monumental counting stats but isn’t actually any good. You know the type. The guy who scores 30 points on 30 shots while his team loses by 20. The guy who’s as likely to shoot you out of a game as into it—as Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard once said of Lance Stephenson, “some nights he was the best player on our team and other nights he was the best player on the other team.” Guys like Josh Smith, Allen Iverson, and Jerry Stackhouse in the old days and guys …

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Do Triple-Doubles Lead to NBA Wins?

Earlier in the season, we looked at the strange tendency for 50-point games to come in losses and put forth some thoughts related to whether individual stat-chasing might ultimately hurt team basketball. But nobody’s arguing that players should put the ball in the basket less. If scoring 50 points is what it takes to get the win, just ask the Golden State Warriors how Game 6 went against the Clippers when Kevin Durant did it. But the triple-double, that’s thornier territory. After all, if triple-doubles were the biggest contributing factor to wins, Russell Westbrook would have so many NBA Finals …

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What if 2-Pointers Were Worth 3 and 3-Pointers Worth 4 in Basketball?

Longtime readers of this site back when we were on the old server (I will forever grit my teeth in anger at our previous host losing all our content from 2015-16 and making the stuff from 2016-17 all but impossible to search; that’s why this site migrated to a WordPress server in 2017, but that’s a story for another day…) Anyway, I wrote a piece suggesting that we turn 2-pointers into threes and 3-pointers into fours in an effort to mitigate the spread in eFG% that comes with one shot from farther away from the basket being worth fully 50 …

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Which Advanced Stats, by Themselves, Create the Best NBA GOAT Lists?

Welcome to part 2 of Project Goliath. In our last edition, we took a look at classic NBA counting stats and determined that any set of stats that criminally underrates Michael Jordan and doesn’t do much better with LeBron James cannot be a true metric of “one stat to rule them all.” So it’s time to go back to our old friend the Basketball Reference Play Index, and this time, we’re going to take every NBA player who ever played 820 games (10 full seasons’ worth; to give you an idea, Larry Bird played 897, Magic Johnson played 906, and …

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How Well Do Old-School Counting Stats Create NBA GOAT Lists?

Welcome to Project Goliath, the ultimate statistical test to take just about every stat you can dream up, traditional and advanced, and use them to see which stat (or combination of stats) produces the most reliable lists of the greatest NBA players of all time. Because let’s face it. We know all-time greats when we see them. A stat that leaves Michael Jordan off the list is obviously going to be either a garbage stat or else slanted too far away from shooting guards to be worth comparisons across positions. Likewise, a stat that leaves out Hakeem Olajuwon or Tim …

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Was Paul Pierce Really Better Than Dwyane Wade?

Paul Pierce caused quite a stir when he claimed on national television that he had a better career than Dwyane Wade. The reaction on social media was divided, with Celtics fans of course agreeing with Pierce and the NBA Twitter barbershop generally coming down on the side of D-Wade. Plenty of folks advanced the theory that Pierce is still bitter about his legacy since he didn’t get the Kobe Bryant/Dirk Nowitzki/”One Last Dance” lovefest that other stars got. And the statheads pointed out that the race is tighter than you realize. Your intrepid columnist is all set to wade into …

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The Lakers Without LeBron, By the Numbers

The Los Angeles Lakers are a train wreck, and despite adding LeBron James during the offseason, the team is going to end up barely better than the 35-47 record they posted in 2017-18. With five games left, the Lakers are 35-42, eliminated from the playoffs, and they’ve sat King James for the rest of the year. The even crazier part? This team wasn’t even very good with LeBron in the lineup. In 55 games, LeBron’s Lakers were 28-27. They’re 7-15 without him, a 26-56 82-game pace, nine games worse than last year’s record, and with him, their projected 42-40 mark …

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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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