2021 Playoffs: The Terrible Coach Redemption Tour

Editor’s Note: I made the mistake of assuming Brooklyn would win Game 7 of the East semis and wrote this column accordingly. Of course, Milwaukee won that game, so Mike Budenholzer, not Steve Nash, is coaching against McMillan and the Hawks in the ECF. Pace and Space regrets the error. The NBA was, for decades, a coaches’ league. Great leaders like Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson, and Pat Riley became synonymous with the teams they led to greatness and were linked to the careers of their star players in Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan (and later Kobe Bryant), and Magic Johnson. In …

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The 2021 Brooklyn Nets: Overrated or Underrated?

The Brooklyn Nets were supposed to self-destruct. With Kevin Durant‘s questionable health following a ruptured Achilles, an injury that has effectively claimed the career of all players 30 and older to suffer it before him, the Nets were supposed to have a reliability problem that would drag them down the way Durant missing all of the 2020 season dragged them down in the bubble. With Kyrie Irving and James Harden two of the biggest head cases in the league, they were supposed to be at each other’s throats in as much time as it took coach Steve Nash to try …

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The James Harden Trade Or: COVID-19, Brooklyn Nets 0

Man, what a time for the power to go out. Yesterday, while your intrepid columnist was sitting in the dark waiting for Puget Sound Energy to get to me among the 400,000 other customers who lost power in the Seattle area thanks to a huge windstorm that blew through—tip your waitress, I’m here all week—Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers worked out a bombshell of a four-team trade that (functionally) sent James Harden to Brooklyn, Victor Oladipo to Houston, Caris LeVert to Indiana, and Jarrett Allen to Cleveland. Sure, there were some other players …

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Should the NBA Learn About Coaching from the NFL?

When the Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash, there were questions about what kind of system Nash would bring in to make the best use of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and the rest of the talent on that team as they worked their way back from a disappointing 2020 campaign riddled with injury. The Nets then brought in Mike D’Antoni after MDA’s departure from the Houston Rockets, and Nash immediately declared that D’Antoni would be the architect of Brooklyn’s offense. Then Nash went a step further, describing lead assistant Jacque Vaughn explicitly as his “defensive coordinator.” If this sounds familiar, it …

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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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Will Steve Nash Reinvent Former-Player Coaches?

Former NBA players, if they were any good at all during their careers, tend to make terrible NBA coaches. When you look at guys like Byron Scott, Lionel Hollins, and Nate McMillan, you see guys whose understanding of basketball strategy is rooted in the time when they played the game and tends to lag behind more innovative coaches who come from the college ranks or from the ranks of guys who may have played but never played particularly well (look up Pat Riley or Mike D’Antoni on Basketball Reference for an example of the latter.) Which is what makes the …

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The 2020 NBA Eastern Conference is Historically Bad

Since 1996-97, when the Los Angeles Clippers made the playoffs with a 36-46 record (and promptly got swept in the first round by the eventual Finals team in Utah), the Western Conference has sent zero teams to the playoffs with a losing record. In that same stretch of 22 full seasons, the East has sent 12 teams to the playoffs with a losing record, the worst of which was a plug-awful Boston Celtics team that went 36-46 with Mark Blount as their second-best player by VORP (1.7) and Raef LaFrentz as the team leader in WS/48 (.137; Paul Pierce put …

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Are the 2019-20 Brooklyn Nets Good?

If you’re the type of person who just skips to the end of these looking for that graphic I ganked from Mythbusters, let me spare you some scrolling: What everyone will say when Kyrie kills the clubhouse vibe and Durant isn’t the same after he comes back. — Fox #PreviewsAreBack Doucette 🏀🍳🥓🥞 (@RealFoxD) September 12, 2019 Yeah, I’ve got jokes, alright. But the bigger question does remain, what on earth do the Brooklyn Nets think they’re going to gain from a prima donna point guard who’s never won anything without LeBron James and a guy who is coming back from …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part I: Atlantic Division

We have talked extensively on the subject of Wiggins Factor, a formula designed to relate NBA salary to Win Shares on a per-minute basis and determine which players provide the most bang for the buck in terms of powering good teams to titles…or, by contrast, the players who are such a waste of money that every minute they’re on the floor all they do is bring your team closer to the draft lottery. But now it’s time to pull all the data together from across the league and give all those raw numbers some context. Over the next six days, …

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Jason Collins and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season

Jason Collins was one of the greatest defensive players ever to take the floor in an NBA game, a perpetual stay-away shutdown guy who wasn’t a great rebounder, wasn’t a great shotblocker, and put up cover-your-eyes box score stats but who continually altered opposing game plans by going full “you shall not pass” Gandalf on walling off the restricted area. In that sense, he was like a great NFL defensive back who doesn’t get a lot of pass deflections or interceptions for the sole reason that quarterbacks are terrified to throw the ball to his side of the field; guys …

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