Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Stats (2020-21 Edition!)

Last year, early in the season when most teams had only played two or three games, I took a look at the insane NBA records that would not only fall but be shattered if the players who had wild openings to the season kept up that pace for 82 games. After Trae Young went for 37 points on just 12 shots and for one game had an absolutely bonkers PER of 59, it was clear that a sequel was in order. So welcome to the Second Annual Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics column! Rather than get caught …

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Allen Iverson: The Most Overrated NBA Player Ever

Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer, an 11-time All-Star, a 4-time scoring champion, a 3-time leader in steals, a 7-time All-NBA selection, the 2001 MVP…and the most overrated player who ever lived, a guy who if someone with his same game came into the league today, he would be immediately sent to the G-League until he figured out how not to shoot his team out of games and play the most hideously inefficient basketball ever seen from a star player in the history of the league. Iverson was the ultimate thirsty scorer. All the criticisms being leveled against James …

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How Well Does NBA Draft Order Predict Player Careers?

The Los Angeles Lakers have two first-overall NBA draft picks on their roster—LeBron James (2003) and Anthony Davis (2012)—who have so far had careers that make LeBron an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame and quite possibly make Davis one should the Lakers win the title even if Davis suffers a career-ending injury during the offseason and never plays another game. Meanwhile, the “curse of the No. 2 pick” haunts guys like Sam Bowie (1984), Darko Milicic (2003), Hasheem Thabeet (2009), and Lonzo Ball (2017), while the No. 3 pick in those drafts? How about Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, …

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The Importance of Shortened NBA Playoff Rotations

During the NBA regular season, bench depth is a vital way to make sure that starters are fresh for the playoffs. Whether it’s pounding weak teams into dust so teams can use their end-of-the-bench guys in garbage time or simply having a second unit that can play 15 or 20 minutes a game and hold a lead, using every one of the 13 guys at a team’s disposal pays dividends in the spring (or, if there’s a plague around, the early fall.) Case in point, the Los Angeles Lakers. During their five-game series win over the Denver Nuggets, eight players …

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Sunday Statistical Test: How Much Better Can NBA Offense Get?

The NBA continues to set records for offensive efficiency even as pace continues to quicken. Offensive Rating has risen steadily since the 2012 lockout season, from 104.6 in that ill-fated 66-game crammed session that produced the worst offense since 2004, setting all-time highs in 2017 (108.8), 2019 (110.4), and 2020 (110.6). Likewise, league pace has gone from 91.3 in that lockout season eight years ago to 100.3 in 2020, the fastest the league has played since 1989 (100.6, the last time before the 2018-19 season that league pace exceeded 100 possessions per 48 minutes.) The fastest the league has ever …

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Sunday Statistical Test: Should Hack-A-Shaq Come Back?

The old “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy of fouling a poor free throw shooter to send him to the line whereupon he’d then miss at least one free throw and have to be removed from the game as an offensive liability never made much sense statistically. Unless the player was truly horrid from the line (even Shaq, a career 52.7 percent free throw shooter, would thus generate 105.4 points per 100 possessions before a single one of his free throws went for an offensive rebound and got the Magic, Lakers, or whoever an extended possession and often a putback), the strategy inevitably generated …

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Go Home Will Buikema, You’re Drunk (Reaction to SBNation Piece)

Over on SBNation, Will Buikema put together an amusing piece suggesting that the “ideal” number of points to score in an NBA basketball game is 107, resting his argument on a combination of factors including bathroom breaks for fans watching at home, desired scoring efficiency, and the contrast of these things with the current state of NBA basketball in 2020. Jon Bois chimed in down in the comments, saying he was more of a 94 points kind of guy, resting that argument on nothing but whatever bizarre surrealist pretzel logic underlies his cryptic sense of humor and, apparently, a masochist’s …

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Why Is Luka Doncic So Good?

One of the oldest arguments in basketball is, when given a player with eye-popping counting stats, “is that guy actually a great player or does he just get stats from getting a ton of touches?” It came up on Twitter again in regards to Luka Doncic, who had 42 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in the Mavericks’ Game 1 loss to the Clippers Monday night and yet drew unfavorable comparisons to the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (who had 32 points and 13 rebounds in the Celtics’ win over the 76ers.) Is Luka better or do they just funnel their offense …

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The NBA is Back…but is the Level of Play Back?

After weeks of filling in the gaps in the posting schedule with some NBA history and a lot of waiting around, the “Whole New Game” relaunch of the coronavirus-delayed 2019-20 season started up last Thursday. And looking at the box scores, one of two things happened. Either the league’s offensive explosion never missed a beat…or the defensive level of play dipped to the level of an All-Star Game. There are some interesting theories kicking around the NBA Twitterverse about what’s going on—J.E. Skeets pointed out that referees are calling the games tighter because without the crowd noise to drown out …

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The Greatest Offensive Teams in NBA History

The second most-popular post in the history of this site, according to my analytics, is “The Greatest Defensive Teams in NBA History”, where I took a look at Defensive Rating relative to league average to crown teams like the Jeff Van Gundy-coached Knicks, glory-days Spurs, and the 2008 Celtics as owners of the greatest defensive seasons of all-time. More recently, the subject came up on Twitter about where the championship-winning Warriors in recent years or the Mike D’Antoni-coached Rockets rank among the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history. Sure, those guys keep shattering records year in and year out for …

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