I've probably written more about Portland on this blog than any other team aside from perhaps the Timberwolves, and I've definitely watched more Blazers games than any other team this season. They not only have for my money the prettiest offense in the league, but also my favorite player (Nic Batum, don't think there isn't a 5,000 word opus on him coming sometime this season). And there games are almost always entertaining. But that entertainment value contains the kernel of their own downfall; Blazer games are fun because no on e can stop them, but they can't stop anyone either.
As you might have heard, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 1-12 in close games, and are floundering around .500 (currently 23-24) when their Pythagorean Record (what their record "should be" based on season long point differential) is 30-17. Generally speaking, large divergence from expected W-L is mostly down to luck. Very few players and teams have consistently shown an ability to out- or under-perform this measure, though one notable exception is Dirk Nowitzki, whose game translates to late game situations better than any player in recent memory. However in the case of the Timberwolves, there is something more than bad luck at work.
Thanks to Ian and the crew at Hickory High, today seems to be a day where a lot of people visit WOH for the first time, so I thought I throw up a quick set of links to a few of my favorite posts I've done over the 2+ months of this blogs' existence. Please peruse and enjoy!
Some of my favorite hard analytics have been trying to make something useful from NBA.com's SportVU "Player Tracking Data". I think the useful information that comes from that data is almost accidental as I doubt teams were willing to share the reports they actually run on the data, but I think I have been able to parse some of the data in two interesting ways - Rim Protection, first post here and "True Usage" a measure of offensive involvement combining both shooting and playmaking, first post here.
I took a look at tanking and the overvaluation of future draft picks here
Several posts breaking down Portland's efficient yet highly aesthetically pleasing offense starting here
I haven't regularly watched college basketball since probably the year J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison battled for College POTY. I'm not sure which season was Rob's last as a regular viewer. So, to speak intelligently about the upcoming extremely hyped, but suddenly mysterious draft, we turned to someone who is watching a lot so we don't have to, Dean Demakis from Dean on the Draft.
Over the last month-plus, Kevin Durant has quickly changed the conversation from "maybe LeBron James isn't the MVP for this season" to "maybe LeBron isn't the best player anymore?" While I'm not ready to countenance the latter question, the former is, barring injury, plague or LeBron tiring of this talk and showing us mortals what's what, settled. KD's last month or so has sealed it. He has done so by not only using up basically all the possessions formerly the purview of Russell Westbrook, but using them at an incredible rate of efficiency.