The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Best Season: 2012

The Oklahoma City Thunder have the odd distinction of owning the history of what most fans consider a completely different franchise, at least officially. Since moving from Seattle in 2008, the NBA considers the old SuperSonics to be merely the precursor to the modern Thunder, on the same level as the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers and Rochester/Cincinnati Royals/Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (phew!) for franchise continuity. But indeed, most fans—and this very publication—think of the Thunder more like the Baltimore Ravens in football or the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA. Their history is their own; their old home, should it get an …

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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 …

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Are the 2019-20 Oklahoma City Thunder Good?

Remember when Chris Paul played games in Oklahoma City when he was with the then-New Orleans Hornets after Hurricane Katrina? When he put up 5.7 VORP as a rookie and 3.9 in his second year, that first season good for fifth all-time among rookies since VORP became possible to keep as a stat in 1973-74, he set the world on fire in a city that didn’t even have a team yet. The top four, in order? Michael Jordan (8.1), David Robinson (6.4), Tim Duncan (6.0), and Alvan Adams (5.8.) Three Hall of Famers and one guy who made his only …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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Breakfast Special: It’s What We Broadly Expected

The NBA playoffs are fundamentally a problem of mathematical certainty given a large enough sample size. When you combine 82 games of regular-season basketball with best-of-seven series, and especially in the first round stir in teams with a high likelihood of a talent disparity due either to the simple fact that there’s a big difference between contender and mid-first-round draft pick team or due to that circumstance being forced by injury… …well, nobody should be surprised that Toronto and Boston both won on the road Friday. The Indiana Pacers, who finished the season 16-19 after Victor Oladipo went out, are …

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Breakfast Special: Get Your Hot Buttered Playoff Scenarios

Well, that’s 1,219 games down in the NBA this season, just 11 to go as we prepare for a wild finish to the season. Eight teams played their last game Tuesday night. The other 22 play their last game tonight. And 15 of the 16 playoff participants are decided. Only Detroit and, shockingly, Charlotte are down to the last game to determine who gets the right to get smacked in the face in five by Milwaukee in the first round. So let’s start there. The Inexplicable Charlotte Hornets The Not Cats were left for dead after losing three in a …

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Is Paul George 2019 MVP Material?

Russell Westbrook was the NBA MVP in 2017, the first of what has become three straight years in which he’s averaged a triple-double. Russell Westbrook is nearly inarguably the second-best player on his own team. Yet the Thunder are 45-33, and they’re almost certain to win either 47 or 48 games this year, which were their win totals in 2017 (when Westbrook put a G-League team on his back and dragged them to the playoffs) and 2018 (when Carmelo Anthony happened.) It is against this backdrop that we’re trying to build an MVP case for Paul George. The Thunder ditched …

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Breakfast Special: Players Only Make Broadcasts Worse

There is a classic formula in sports broadcasting that has worked for at least my entire lifetime (since 1977.) If you credit Monday Night Football with codifying the modern sports broadcast format and mainstreaming the three-man booth in 1970, it’s been nearly 50 years. You have a play-by-play announcer, usually someone with a background in traditional journalism and broadcasting, a torch that has been passed, depending on the sport, between the likes of Chick Hearn and Keith Jackson and Mike Breen. You have a color man, a former player or coach, giving expert analysis (indeed, the term “color commentator” is …

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Breakfast Special: Devin Booker, You Poor, Poor Fool

Devin Booker just had his third 50-point game of his career and his second in as many games Wednesday night in Phoenix. The Suns lost 124-121 to the Washington Wizards, dropping Booker to 0-3 in his career when he scores at least 50. Because Booker’s teammates are such a dumpster fire that we get yet another insane box score to gawk at the morning after. At least this time the Suns got five guys into double figures, but Booker was 19-of-29 shooting…and the rest of the team was 24-of-58 (41,4 percent.) The only reason this game was even as close …

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Breakfast Special: Revenge of the Scrubs

There were a few real head-scratcher losses by good teams in the NBA Wednesday night, and while we’ll save the recaps for the lightning round because they don’t merit a feature (with one exception for the top three that you’ll see when we get there), it is endlessly interesting every year when March and April roll around and for every team that provides a compelling storyline as they fight for a playoff spot (Pacers and West Coast road trip, anyone?), there are five more that are either bad teams winning as their garbage fire roster finally provides some hope for …

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