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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Is Andrew Wiggins the Worst NBA Player of All Time?

Andrew Wiggins is a favorite bugbear of this here site, as dunking on his atrocious advanced stats and pointing out that he’s the biggest reason the Minnesota Timberwolves are hot garbage that hit their peak with a 47-win season and an 8 seed only because they rented Jimmy Butler is fruit so low-hanging that you’d think it was a potato. Wiggins routinely ranks among the absolute most head-scratching wastes of minutes in the league. Consider the following benchmarks: 2,500 minutes played (or about 32 minutes a game over an 82-game season). Here’s where Wiggins’ first four seasons in the league …

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LeBron’s Legacy by the Numbers

The legacy of LeBron James is bookended by NBA history, trying to be better than the greats of the past while setting a standard that will withstand the challenge of the greats of the future. The legacy of LeBron is also bookended alphabetically, by the letter K on one end—Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Karl Malone—and by the letter M on the other, in the person of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Kareem, Karl, and Kobe are the three guys left in the way of LeBron setting the career record for scoring. Magic is the gold standard for versatility, his …

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Whatever Happened to All Those 14th-Place West Teams?

On October 29, 2018, the Oklahoma City Thunder, losers of their first four games to start the season, beat the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix dropped to 1-5 that day, sinking into last place in the Western Conference, a position they would occupy for the rest of the season (as this goes to press and includes games through March 10, 2019, the Suns’ “tragic number” for clinching last place stands at four; they are 16-52, while the 14th-place Dallas Mavericks are 27-39. In fact, the Suns would only manage to be as good as “tied for 14th” for two days, as they …

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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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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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Could an All-Euro Roster Compete in the NBA?

The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly moving to acquire Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks, on the presumed belief that if one transcendent Euro white dude is good, two must be even better. But if one Euro white dude—whether it’s Dirk Nowitzki or Luka Doncic—can be a franchise cornerstone, why not just go whole hog and put a whole roster together of nothing but European white dudes? And what’s more, let’s limit this to white people, since the commonly held refrain around the NBA is that it’s a “black league” and also so this doesn’t just turn into a World Team kind …

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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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