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 Chicago Bulls’ Best Season: 1996

Let’s face it. If you want me to talk about Bulls teams you haven’t heard about a thousand times, just scroll to the bottom—there’s some fun stuff for you there in Honorable Mentions. But I’m not here to be edgy, contrarian, or to show about as firm a grip on objective reality as a politician. We all know the 72-10, NBA champion, greatest of all time (thanks in no small part to Golden State choking away their case for that particular honor in 2016), glorious Michael Jordan‘s-back-and-you’re-gonna-be-in-trouble 1996 Chicago Bulls. So without further ado… The On-Court Record It’s hard to …

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1992: The Glorious Apex of Horace Grant

There have, at points in NBA history, been seasons where a good-but-not-great player came out of absolute nowhere to reach such lofty heights that, when they regressed back to their natural talent level, lapsed into history as one of those seasons that becomes a gee-whiz moment like “wait, he did WHAT?” Josh Smith did it in 2010, finishing fourth in the league in VORP in the only season he hit more than half of his shots before shooting his way out of the NBA entirely. Brandon Roy did it a year before—he was always very good during his brief but …

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The Greatest Dynasties in NBA History

In celebration of their new sponsorship deal with the NBA, Mondelez International, makers of delicious junk food, decided to launch a line of Oreo cookies celebrating the NBA’s great dynasties. Featured on the cookies will be the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Golden State Warriors, and…the Miami Heat. Excuse me, what? A Miami team that won just two titles in four years while being broadly regarded as responsible for the only two of LeBron James‘ six Finals losses that could be legitimately said to tarnish the legacy of a guy who otherwise has a claim …

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What Could Michael Jordan’s Career Stats Have Been?

Michael Jordan stands fifth all-time in scoring in NBA history, third in steals, fifth in Win Shares, and second in VORP. By any account, the argument for the greatest player ever to play professional basketball is a two-horse race between Jordan and LeBron James. But what if Jordan—who played in 1,072 career NBA games, 90th all-time—didn’t spend two seasons of his prime trying to play baseball? What if he hadn’t taken three years off before an ill-fated comeback attempt in Washington in 2001 that nearly knocked him out of the top spot for points per game, leaving him in a …

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Are the 2019-20 Chicago Bulls Good?

Bad teams must someday become good unless they’re the Knicks. The Chicago Bulls were good when some guy from North Carolina played shooting guard for them in the 1990s, then they were bad, then Derrick Rose was briefly healthy and amazing and they were good again, and now they are terrible. They will be good again. Nobody knows when, or what catalyst will spark that leap from garbage to quality. But unless Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, and Luke Kornet somehow morph into Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant, this ain’t the year. It’s hard to believe in the core …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

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LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and “Making Teammates Better”

The Lakers are a burning Dumpster fire of a franchise, and it looks like for the first time since 2005, the NBA playoffs will happen with no LeBron James present. Despite this, LeBron is having another top-notch season statistically, posting 27.4 points per game (above his career average of 27.2) and, considering his 35.3 minutes per game are a career low, he’s actually posting the highest scoring rate on a per-minute basis in 16 seasons in the league. He’s posting a 26.0 PER, .595 True Shooting, .186 WS/48, and 4.5 VORP, all despite playing in just 50 of the Lakers’ …

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Zach LaVine: Is He Any Good?

In the NBA, there are Dunk Contest Guys and there are actually-plays-in-real-games guys as far as effectiveness is concerned. Rare is the man who can combine greatness in the dunk contest with the kind of career that, say, Michael Jordan had or Dominique Wilkins had or Vince Carter had. Look at the past few years of the dunk contest for All-Star weekend. Hamidou Diallo and Glenn Robinson III and Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. The only guy to do real damage in the dunk contest who isn’t a Dunk Contest Guy, at least not in how he’ll be remembered, was …

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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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