I Died So You Can Live: The NBA Regular Season Sucks So I Watched It For You

MMD March 20, 2014 0
I Died So You Can Live: The NBA Regular Season Sucks So I Watched It For You

For most of the year, the NBA is boring as hell.  Basketball is a star-driven league with so few upsets; the regular season isn’t much more than a formality. There are 16 playoff spots and never more than five or six legitimate championship contenders. There have been 137 first round match-ups including #1 seeds in NBA playoff history and their combined series record is 134-3. Since 1984 only eight different teams have won the championship, and only nine teams have won in the last 34 years. Of the last 30 NBA champs, 19 have included either Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq or Duncan. Now add Hakeem, Kobe, Isaiah and LeBron and you’ve accounted for 27 of the 30 titles. The best players always win.
Watching some NBA games before playoff time is basically like watching a bunch of super-tall guys toss a ball around to kill time until they are allowed to go the club and fuck ho’s. The results are inevitable. Finally the end of the season comes and the NBA transforms into one of the greatest athletic competitions on the planet and we get to find out if someone not named LeBron can win the title. Here’s a preview of what’s to come with a look at the performance of each team thus far:



UTAH – The Jazz have the worst DefRtg (Defensive Efficiency Rating) in the league at 108.5.  Combine an aversion to staying in front of their man with a front office that deems Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins worthy of being the two highest paid players on the team, then force them all to live in Utah – and you have a pretty shitty squad.

NEW ORLEANS – In an effort to become the least intimidating sports team in history they changed their name to the Pelicans, and they still wear teal.

SACRAMENTO – This was once a proud franchise that competed for the championship every year but it has been a while since those days.  They’ve struggled for so long they have been able to acquire an impressive amount of draft busts, so it’s no surprise that only Phoenix has a lower percentage of their buckets assisted.  The main question for the future is whether they will decide to build around DeMarcus Cousins, or trade him for more draft busts.

LAKERS – What the fuck has happened to this team?  Other than Kobe being hurt and L.A. being the worst rebounding team in the game – it is mainly the work of GM Mitch Kupchak.  He has made some ill-advised moves to say the least: having the Gasol-Paul trade fall through, trading for Steve Nash who has been a disaster while eating up about 10 million bucks against the cap, the Dwight Howard experiment, paying Kobe $30 million per and having Mike D’Antoni bring in his vaunted defensive system have all combined to equal a big pile of crap.

DENVER – Bryan Shaw may be the coach now but they still play up-tempo basketball.  Ty Lawson is having his best season averaging 18 points and 9 assists.  There is a lot of talent on this team and they have had a bunch of injuries, if they can add a star next year they could be a contender.  Too bad superstar athletes who can play in any place they want rarely choose Colorado, unless they have broken necks and underperform in Super Bowls.

MINNESOTA – Kevin Love is one of the most under-the-radar stars in any sport.  He’s having a ridiculous season averaging 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists coming back from an injury.  Combine him with Nikola Pekovic and they have two big horses in the front court.  Ricky Rubio is finally healthy and contributing plus this year they added a scorer in Kevin Martin, giving them a nice core group to build upon.  Now they just need a few guys who can shoot, as they are in the bottom third of the league in TS% (True Shooting Percentage) and eFG% (effective field goal percentage).  Each of the last few years they seem like they’re ready to break out and have a great year but can’t quite seem to do it.  Learning to hit jump shots might help.


MEMPHIS – The Grizz have been one of the best defensive teams for years but this season they have slipped a little to ninth.  They also lack a legitimate #1 scoring option as Mike Conley is leading the team in that department, which isn’t a knock on Conley it’s just never good when your point guard has to score all the points.  This is another once promising team that now looks to have a not-so-bright future.  It bears repeating that despite the dearth of teams that can’t shoot and seem to feel no need to acquire a player who can get his own shot; these are essential elements to winning in a sport where the average game has 200 points scored.

DALLAS – The Mavs are one of the best offensive teams as well as one of the worst defensive teams.  They play horrid D inside allowing opponents to hit well over 60% from within 5 feet, and abysmal D outside as they have yielded the second-highest three-point shooting % against.  Dirk can still score but not at the elite level he used to, combine him with Shawn Marion and Vince Carter and you have what would’ve been a great team in 2002.

PHOENIX – The Suns are over .500 for the first time since Stoudemire and Nash weren’t cripples.  Goran Dragic has really come into his own and is having a good year despite the Suns being the worst assist team in the league.  If you look at their roster it is nothing short of a miracle that they have a winning record (their second best player is Channing Frye) and speaks volumes about new coach Jeff Hornacek.  Imagine what he could do with some talent.

GOLDEN STATE – The Warriors still play at a quick pace and score lots of points, but they have improved their defense exponentially.  They are third in the league in DefRtg allowing less than 100 points per 100 possessions.  They also have David Lee back healthy and have added Andre Iguodala to the mix.  How this translates to them being lower in the standings than they were last year is a testament to how tough it is in the West.  Stephen Curry has been dominant, averaging 23 points and 9 assists.  He can break a game open and the Warriors have a chance to pull an upset in the playoffs because of him.  If they add some depth to the bench they can be a championship team.

PORTLAND – Yes I am aware that the Blazers record suggests they should be in the “championship contenders” group.  They have been the Cinderella team in the league this year and have posted a record that has them hanging with the big dogs, so let’s break that glass slipper.  The Blazers are similar to Dallas in the sense that they have no problem scoring, but play real weak defense.  There are in the bottom third in DefRtg.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are developing into a real nice combo and they definitely would kick-ass in NBA Jam, but in real life if you have a defense similar to New Orleans and the Lakers you’re not going anywhere in the postseason.


HOUSTON – The Rockets are loaded.  James Harden has become an elite scorer and Dwight Howard is back on his game, then there’s Chandler Parsons.  Parsons is a very underrated player who can shoot as well as drive and score inside.  We’ve never really seen how he performs in a playoff series and I think he’ll be the deciding factor. Teams will double Harden late in games and since Howard is a big man who can’t get his own shot, Parsons is going to have to come up with some big buckets in crunch time.  We will either see a new star born, or an Achilles heel ruptured.

CLIPPERS – This team is stacked.  Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league hands down.  Blake Griffin is a beast and they have a big time supporting cast.  Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison would make a good team on their own.  This is the deepest team in the NBA and come playoff time they are going to cause mismatches all over the court.  This could be the year for that other L.A. team.

OKLAHOMA CITY – In the off-season they lost sixth man Kevin Martin a year after losing James Harden.  Then Russell Westbrook spends a good portion of the season hurt and might not get back to 100% this year.  Somehow this results in the Thunder having one of the best records in the NBA.  The main reason for this is obviously soon-to-be MVP Kevin Durant.  He’s leading the league in scoring averaging at a Jordan-esque 31.8, and a Pippen-esque 8 boards and 6 dimes, but that barely tells the tale.  Without overloading you with numbers – basically no player has ever been on the floor more than him AND taken as many shots as him AND hit as many as he has this season (except for LeBron this season.)  He and LeBron are simply having the most efficient season(s) in the history of basketball.  LeBron and Durant are the two best shooters in the game, but Durant is doing it without much help.  This most likely doesn’t bode well for the Thunder come playoff time, but the numbers Durant is putting up in the regular season are mind-boggling.  The Thunder do everything well, coming in near the top of the league in rebounding and defense so the question is: Do they need Westbrook in top form or can Kevin Durant wreck the whole league with a bunch of role players?

SAN ANTONIO – Have you watched basketball at any point over the last 17 years?  If you have you’ve seen the Spurs make the playoffs every one of those seasons.  Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Gregg Popovich, blah blah blah.  They’re really fucking good.  All the fucking time.



MILWAUKEE – The Bucks have won 13 out of their first 68 games.  No real statistical analysis is necessary after that, but what the hell – they’re tied for last in the league in TS%, second to last in DefRtg, dead last in Offensive Efficiency (OffRtg) and Brandon Knight is leading the team in scoring.

ORLANDO – The Magic are in year two of a rebuilding phase after trading Dwight Howard, so not much was expected.  They are actually middle of the pack in defense and have a nice core group to build around.  Nikola Vucevic is a double-double every night, Arron Afflalo can score, Jameer Nelson is an extremely underrated PG, and the rookie Victor Oladipo is a stud.  A few more players like that and they’ll be almost halfway to fielding a competitive team.

PHILADELPHIA – The Sixers play at the fastest pace of any team in the NBA (averaging more than 102 possessions per game) so maybe they should slow it down a bit.  They lead the league in turnovers which obviously adds possessions, but that’s not the whole story.  The 76ers average almost 3 more possessions per game then the second-quickest-paced team.  To put that in perspective there is a 3 possession difference between the second and 10th quickest teams.  Philly also has taken by far the most shots within 5 feet of the rim (165 more FGA than anyone else) and yet they are third from the bottom averaging an ugly 54% from that distance.  Michael Carter-Williams is one of the best rookies in the league, but the rest of the Sixers (with the exception of Thaddeus Young when he’s in the mood) just aren’t up to his speed.

CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving notwithstanding, the main reason the Cavs struggle is they can’t shoot.  (In basketball, that’s bad.)  They sport an eFG% under 47 (in basketball, that’s bad) placing them in the bottom five, which is where they also rank in TS%.  To top it off they are dead last in FG% within 5 feet (under 53%).  The most interesting part of their year will come in the off-season when we will see if they offer free agent LeBron James a contract, which would be cute.

BOSTON – This is obviously rebuilding time for the Celts.  When you trade away pretty much your entire team that has qualified for the playoffs every year since being put together in ’07-’08 including the coach, you can expect poor results.  Add in an injury that keeps your only remaining star sidelined for the first half of the season, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Jeff Green is their best player.  Fin.

DETROIT – Here is another team that can’t shoot.  The Pistons numbers may not look as bad as the Cavs or Bucks at first glance, but they’re just as awful. They lead the league in Offensive Rebound % but that is because they miss so many shots and have their best player Andre Drummond crashing the boards.  The three players on the team that take the most perimeter jump-shots are shooting under 40%.  Detroit Bad Boys and Deadspin have both had great posts explaining in detail how bad this offense is and specifically Josh Smith – to paraphrase: Smith is 55 for 220 from 3-point range.  (Pause here for dramatic effect.)  He is a freak athlete forward who could be an inside presence and get whatever shot he wants in or around the paint plus block shots at the other end.  What the heck is he doing shooting 3’s?

NEW YORK – Carmelo has become quite an enigma.  He is second in the league in scoring and 8th with a 25.07 PER.  Scoring has never been a problem for him and last year the Knicks were great, but the 2014 squad is a very different story.  They play at the third slowest pace of any team, averaging just over 92 possessions per game.  So yes, those who said Carmelo slows the game down are correct, but when you surround him with the right players (i.e. a core of veteran leaders, a pre injury-riddled Tyson Chandler and Good JR Smith) it works.  When you surround him with Andrea Bargnani, no vets and Bad “LOL I untied his shoes OMGLOL” JR Smith, it doesn’t.  Also, replacing Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace with Metta World Peace doesn’t make for the same locker room.  None of this really matters in the end because the team is owned by a psychopath named James Dolan, who will sabotage any good team they ever might have anyway.  The only difference is now he will blame it on Phil Jackson.


CHARLOTTE – No surprises here, the Bobcats have been horrible every year of their existence.  They stand as sort of a surreal antithetical version of their owner Michael Jordan.  The Bizarro Bulls if you will.  The Bobcats actually play pretty solid D; scoring is their problem.  They rank in the bottom 5 in the league in TS%, eFG% and FG%. Since hitting shots is pretty much the objective of basketball, the Bobcats aren’t having a banner year.  It’s also noteworthy that despite being a horrible shooting team, thanks to the Milwaukee’s and Detroit’s and Cleveland’s, they’re probably the best East team we’ve mentioned so far.  So maybe there’s hope that next year they can surpass the best record in franchise history – which sadly is 44-38.

WASHINGTON – John Wall plays for them.

ATLANTA – The Hawks have been mediocre for a long time.  It once looked as if they were building up a nice squad with Josh Smith back when he had potential, Joe Johnson and the last few good years of Mike Bibby.  Now all that’s left is the oft-injured Al
Horford.  The Hawks front office has surrounded him with Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and DeMarre Carroll, ensuring at least another 3-5 years of mediocrity.

BROOKLYN – The Nets got off to a horrible start and things weren’t looking good for new coach Jason Kidd, but they have bounced back and become competitive.  Brook Lopez is out for the year and Deron Williams hasn’t been the same for the last two years due to injury.  If those two were healthy or if Jay-Z still owned one third of one percent of the franchise and trotted Beyoncé out court-side once in a while this might be an interesting team.

CHICAGO – Injuries have stifled the Bulls over the last few years.  Derrick Rose was once considered to be one of best players in the league, but this is his second consecutive year with a serious injury.  The Bulls are second in
DefRtg and opponents FG% within 5 feet, and they are one of the best teams at defending the three.  Now, if they only had someone who could “score.”

TORONTO – Yes, Toronto is the third best team in the Eastern Conference, that’s how bad the East is this year.  The Raptors are the best of the worst in a sense, and mainly because they can do what most other teams in the East can’t: make the basketball go through the basket.  They have a DefRtg of 101.3 which places them in the top-5 in the league, and they just sneak into the top-ten with a 105.1 OffRtg – astonishingly efficient for a Canadian basketball team.  They are getting nice contributions from just about everyone on the roster, especially Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.  Nonetheless most Americans will recognize them as the team in all of those YouTube videos they watch of Terrence Ross dunking.


INDIANA – Is this the year the Pacers finally knock off LeBron and the Heat?  If not it will be four straight East titles for Miami.  The Pacers just might be able to pull it off because they are without question the best defensive team in the sport.  Their DefRtg is 95.5 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is off the charts, Chicago is second at 98 just ahead of Golden State, and the rest of the league is over 100.  They’re also the best at defending the rim have allowed a ridiculous 51.8 opponents FG% from within 5ft., Oklahoma City is second at 54.7.  They are without question the best shot defending team.  Roy Hibbert has quietly developed into one of the best centers in the game.  He’s third in blocks and is the anchor of the Pacer defense, but he has been also been developing a nice little offensive game as well.  David West is a beast and a classic power forward.  George Hill is quick at the point and can shoot the 3.  Lance Stephenson is that rare player that can do everything well, he’s somewhat of a poor man’s version of his teammate Paul George – that rare player that can do everything exceedingly well.  An average night for George reads 22 points 7 ‘bounds and 3 or 4 dimes.  Everyone on this team is an exceptional defender, everyone crashes the boards, and everyone is involved in the offense as well.  You really couldn’t dream up a unit that exemplifies team basketball more.  They also have depth with Evan Turner, Luis Scola, and C.J. Watson on the bench.  If defense wins championships, the Pacers will be the last team left standing.

MIAMI – The Heat have been the best team in the NBA for a while now and we know the most obvious reason: LeBron James is the best basketball player on earth.  James is averaging 27 points 7 rebounds 7 assists, is second in PER, and best in TS% shooting over 65%.  He is impossible to defend but he was impossible to defend in Cleveland too, the difference is how unique Miami’s other stars are.  Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are weird.  Wade is a 2-guard who scores most of his points in the paint (376 makes in the paint to 309 outside) and Bosh is a center whose FG attempts are mostly jump-shots (451 makes outside and 310 inside).  Obviously the reverse is usually true, most guards score on jumpers and most centers score in the paint – but that’s not how they do things in South Beach.  These two create mismatches all over the court.  Very few teams have a big-man that can guard the perimeter AND a guard/swingman who can defend in the paint AND won’t be using either of them to guard LeBron fucking James. Teams are also just simply unaccustomed to being attacked in such an ass-backwards manner, and with the level of talent Miami has doing the attacking it’s almost not fair.  For someone to beat this team four out of seven times they’re going to have to be near perfect on D.  The Pacers are the only team in the East with the personnel to do so, but in the final minute of a close playoff game they lack a closer and Miami has three.

PREDICTION: I’ll go out on a limb and say the teams with the two best players end up in the finals, and hedge my bet toward the guy who has won the last two.  Miami over Oklahoma City.  Unless Indiana wins, which would be like 2004 Detroit or 1979 Seattle: most likely the third team to ever win a championship without a Hall-of-Famer.
(Sorry ‘Sheed).


Article By: Anthony Schiano

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