When “3s And Layups” Goes Wrong

Critics of NBA aesthetics often say that the league has degenerated into a dumbed-down version of basketball where the only thing that matter are “3s and Layups”. And to a degree, they’re right—add in free throws to the mix and you’ve got the essentials of efficient basketball, which can be statistically measured and which have time and again borne out that those elements are the best way to score points. And since you can’t win if you don’t score more points than your opponent (duh), it stands to reason you want to maximize your efficiency. Granted, the critics of aesthetics …

Read More

The Houston Rockets’ Best Season: 1994

The 2021 Houston Rockets just had arguably the worst season in franchise history, going 17-55 over 72 games and posting the first sub-.500 record since 2006, when they went 34-48. In turn, that 34-48 season was itself an aberration for a franchise that, in its 54-year history since entering the league first as the San Diego Rockets in 1967 and then moving to Houston for the 1971-72 campaign (this coming season is the 50th anniversary, so enjoy it, Rockets fans), has been a perennial playoff fixture. Indeed, since 1974, the team has not suffered more than four consecutive years out …

Read More

“Threes And Layups”: The Evolution of NBA Offense In One Stat

On this here site, D’Antoni Index has become a catch-all stat for measuring “modern” NBA offense. If the goal is to shoot your outside shots from 3-point land, your inside shots inside the restricted area, and to draw lots of fouls, adding up the rate at which teams accrue such things must by definition measure how well teams are achieving that goal. What’s more, what constitutes a “high” 3PAR, for example, has radically changed over the year. For example, the Indiana Pacers, through games of January 17, 2021, stand 21st in 3PAR at .373; the majority of NBA teams take …

Read More

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 …

Read More

A Study In Glorious Failure Part 2: Mike D’Antoni

Yesterday, we did a deep dive into the legacy of Don Nelson, Hall of Famer, legendary coach…and one-time conference finalist without so much as an NBA Finals appearance, never mind a ring. But no discussion of the Marty Schottenheimers of the NBA is complete without the recently-sacked maven of Houston Rockets playoff disappointment, good ol’ Mike D’Antoni. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love MDA and campaigned for him to be the new head coach of my beloved Indiana Pacers. But nobody in the history of basketball coaching embodied “live by the sword, die by the sword” like Mr. Seven …

Read More

Kevin Willis, The Greatest Lousy NBA Player

A few years ago, Jon Bois of SBNation did an episode of Chart Party where he talked about Jeff Francoeur, describing him as “my favorite worst baseball player.” The idea was that “Frenchy” had one of the most explosive first months of a career in the history of Major League Baseball, then dropped off a cliff. Go watch it. It’s good. The weird part is despite that, he lasted 12 years in the league, played in over 1400 major league games for his career, and all this despite frequently ending up with negative Wins Above Replacement (for those who don’t …

Read More

Russell Westbrook’s Nonexistent Trade Value

When an NBA front office decides whether to trade for a player, there are a few questions that need to be answered before either pulling the trigger or calling the other team back to say “no dice.” The first and most obvious is “is the guy we’re trading for any good?” There are plenty of reasons to trade for a guy who sucks, and we’ll get into why as we go down this list of questions, but as a good rule of thumb, you don’t trade for players who suck. The second is “how much money does he make and …

Read More

Chris Paul: Greatest Point Guard Ever?

Way back when I was writing my “Which Advanced Stats Make the Best GOAT Lists?” article in April of 2019, most of the results produced some version of the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan argument, as any good GOAT discussion ought to. The weird thing, though, was that while combing through the data, one name kept coming up as one of the top ten if not top-five guys of all time, and it wasn’t who you’d expect. Chris Paul is fourth all-time in Win Shares per 48 minutes, fifth in Box Plus-Minus, 10th in Value Over Replacement Player, and fifth …

Read More

Daryl Morey’s Legacy of Mediocrity

Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets have finally parted ways; for the first time since 2007, the Rockets will start a season with someone’s name other than Morey’s on the “Executive” line on Basketball Reference. Morey is rightly seen as a guy who wasn’t afraid to shake up the conventional wisdom of the NBA; he is the patron saint of the analytics movement and it is no coincidence that his arrival in Houston heralded the true end of the NBA’s Dark Ages—sure, Mike D’Antoni‘s Suns had shown us the future in 2005, and the Suns leading the league not only …

Read More

Robert Horry: Was He Any Good?

The ultimate counter-arguments to “count the rings” as a measure of NBA greatness exist in the forms of James Jones (“the only player besides LeBron James to appear in eight straight NBA Finals since the merger”, because Jones was LeBron’s teammate first in Miami and then in Cleveland), Steve Kerr (piggybacked off Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan to win five rings), and our subject for today, Robert Horry, Big Shot Rob Himself, a legend of the ’90s and the Dark Ages who won a combined seven rings with the Rockets, Spurs, and Lakers, or “more rings than anyone who never …

Read More