The Worst-Ever NBA Playoff Teams

Not long ago, I was on YouTube watching footage of Michael Jordan‘s legendary 63-point outburst in Game 2 of the 1986 first round, a game his Chicago Bulls lost to the Boston Celtics 135-131 in double overtime on their way to a sweep. That Bulls team, at 30-52 on the regular season, made the playoffs because there were only 11 teams in the Eastern Conference and three of them—29-53 Cleveland, 26-56 Indiana, and 23-59 New York—managed to be even more utterly putrescent than a Bulls team referred to as “a bunch of coke fiends” in ESPN’s 2020 smash hit documentary …

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Gordon Hayward’s Incomprehensible Legacy

Gordon Hayward is perhaps the greatest modern example of parlaying one great season into a career of making far more money than a player of his caliber has any business putting into the bank. The Boston Celtics signed him to a big free agent deal that earned Hayward about $90 million in three years between 2018 and 2020, then traded him to the Charlotte Hornets on a sign-and-trade valued at $120 million over four years. Throw in the roughly $45 million Hayward made on his restricted free agent extension after his rookie deal, and the $10 million or so he …

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“Suck Faster” Revisited: Relating Pace to Net Rating

It’s been awhile since we’ve taken a deep, obscure statistical dive around here and squeezed every little dust particle of data out of it, hasn’t it? So why not put that hat back on and revisit a concept first examined in the very early days of this site’s existence? In 2017, I wrote about the Brooklyn Nets under Kenny Atkinson, long before they got their current roster, and considered how combining an up-tempo style with a plug-awful team only managed to make Brooklyn 9-35, holders of the league’s worst record on January 25, 2017, a state of affairs that ultimately …

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The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Problem

For the past few seasons, it has become an annual event at some point around the All-Star break to point out the problems that Russell Westbrook has caused for his teams. In 2019, the question was whether Westbrook could finally break out of his “the best you’re going to get out of this guy is 48 wins and a first-round playoff exit” problem in the absence of Kevin Durant. The Oklahoma City Thunder stood at 26-18 on Jan. 17 after a loss to the Lakers, and while they would win 11 of their next 12 contests to go to 37-19, …

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Headed For A Fall: The 2022 NBA Overachievers

Through games of January 14, the 2022 NBA season is effectively at its halfway point. Only three teams—Chicago, Denver, and Toronto—have not yet played their 41st game, while Memphis and Sacramento have played 45 contests, most in the league. Some teams have grossly underachieved so far, perhaps none more so than the 15-28 Indiana Pacers, whose Net Rating stands at just minus-0.9 even after Boston and Phoenix slaughtered them this week. But perhaps more interesting is the list of teams at the other end of the scale, teams whose records on the court are better than their records on the …

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The Indiana Pacers: The NBA’s Agony Booth

Since Christmas, the Indiana Pacers are 0-6, dropping their overall season record to 14-25. On the bright side, that’s the combined win total of the two teams—Detroit and Orlando, with seven wins each through games of January 7—below them. On the downside, this is a team with a minus-0.3 Net Rating, basically a 40-win team on paper, on pace to go 29-53. That would be the worst record by an Indiana squad since Reggie Miller‘s second year in the league in 1988-89, when they went 28-54 and got to pick George McCloud seventh in a truly awful ’89 draft in …

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Achtung Panzer! The 6-25 Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic inexplicably beat the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night to run their record to 6-25, still second-worst in the league ahead of only the dreadful Detroit Pistons, but they should’ve been 5-26 after playing the likes of Brooklyn, even with three Nets players in health and safety protocols and Kyrie Irving in anti-vaxxer hell. But in the grand scheme of the 2022 NBA season, the Magic didn’t exactly upend the order of the Eastern Conference. Coming into the Brooklyn game, Orlando was 28th on offense, 29th on defense, and 30th for Net Rating…in a 30-team league. They’re third up …

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What We Learned from Warriors-Suns This Week

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns extended their winning streak to 17 games, beating the Golden State Warriors 104-98 and in the process ending the Warriors’ seven-game stretch of success. After Phoenix disposed of Detroit to run that winning streak to 18, they headed up to San Francisco…and lost 118-96 to at last drop their fourth game of the season and end up at 19-4. In so doing, the Suns ended up in second place in the Western Conference, behind that 19-3 Golden State squad that now leads them by half a game in the standings once more. That’s right. …

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Breaking Down the 2022 Eastern Conference Free-For-All

The NBA’s Eastern Conference standings are proof that when you take your eye off the league for even one minute, let alone an entire week, much like a momentarily neglected toddler with a distracted parent, those 15 teams get into all kinds of trouble. As of Thanksgiving Day, just three games separated the tied-for-second-place Miami Heat and Washington Wizards and the 12th-place Toronto Raptors with nearly a quarter of the season in the books. Things both did and did not shake out a bit over the weekend thus far. Miami beat Chicago and Washington beat Dallas on Saturday night, bringing …

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Montrezl Harrell is the 2022 NBA MVP So Far

The Washington Wizards are a rather inexplicable 10-5 to start the 2022 season, fourth in the East. And leading the team in WS/48 and VORP by a country mile? Montrezl Harrell, the 2020 Sixth Man of the Year, a guy who may not look like a superstar in a traditional sense out on the floor but who racks up counting and advanced stats seemingly effortlessly whenever he’s in the game. Harrell is sitting on .323 WS/48 in 15 games and 430 minutes this season. He’s posting a 7.0 Box Plus/Minus and 1.0 VORP, that last projecting over 82 games to …

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