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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

OT - NBA 2017-2018 Tip-off Thread

I estimate only 10-12 Primates care about the NBA, some of whom still care about baseball playoffs, but all of whom agree the Celtics gave up too much for Irving.

Here’s the thread’s top 50 players ranking.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2017 at 11:21 AM | 3977 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: basketball, nba, off-topic

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   1901. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2017 at 04:19 PM (#5590386)
Careful, might need to pull out all the tricks to avoid a 3rd straight win: Kyrie and Morris are out for Boston, and Horford is questionable.

Can Portis break Mirotic's face again? You know, just to be safe.

Nikola Mirotic‏ @threekola Dec 9

Great to be back !!! 2 - 0 ✔
   1902. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2017 at 04:21 PM (#5590387)
I meant to post this earlier, but Spivey's post on CP3 and the Rockets reminded me:

John Schuhmann‏ @johnschuhmann Dec 10

LeBron James...

Restricted area FG%: 77.6% (career high)

3P%: 41.7% (career high)

% of total FGA from restricted area or 3-point range: 72.1% (career high)
   1903. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 11, 2017 at 04:31 PM (#5590392)
Philadelphia All Access Dec. 15 content highlights include:

* Jeff Van Gundy’s one-on-one interview with Sixers head coach Brett Brown;
* Doris Burke’s interview with Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo;
* Stephen A. Smith, former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, on site in Philadelphia for First Take (10 a.m. – noon) and SC6 (6 p.m.);
* Joel Embiid to appear live with Stephen A. Smith on First Take;
* Footage from this Thursday’s Sixers practice to air on SportsCenter AM Friday morning;
* Doris Burke will conduct a one-on-one interview with Ben Simmons;
* An exclusive look inside the training program of Markelle Fultz, as he works toward a return to the court with Todd Wright, Sixers assistant coach and head of strength and conditioning;
* A feature on the Sixers team executive chef JaeHee Cho;
* Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil to appear on the The Ryen Russillo Show (between 1-4 p.m.), plus guests on Golic & Wingo (6-10 a.m.) on ESPN Radio;
* Several Sixers-related com pieces throughout the week, including Ramona Shelburne on Joel Embiid, and Kevin Arnovitz on Ben Simmons and his love of Australian Rules Football;
* ESPN NBA reporters Royce Young, Ian Begley and Nick Metallinos (ESPN Australia) on-site in Philadelphia;
* Sixers content on ESPN’s daily NBA show, The Jump, at 3 p.m.
   1904. Fourth True Outcome Posted: December 11, 2017 at 05:53 PM (#5590433)
Odd, I don't see Hinkie anywhere in that schedule...
   1905. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 11, 2017 at 06:29 PM (#5590453)
Markkanen out for the Bulls tonight, back spasms. The Celtics catch a break :)
   1906. If on a winter's night a baserunner Posted: December 11, 2017 at 06:52 PM (#5590469)
Markkanen out for the Bulls tonight, back spasms.


I'm legit bummed about this. I haven't caught any Bulls games so far this season, and I've been wanting to watch the kid play.

I hope that, between the loss of a few scoring mainstays and a Chicago defense that hasn't exactly been lighting up the statsheet*, the Celtics ramp up Tatum's usage some. I don't necessarily expect it, though.

* Not that you can gain particularly authoritative answers from looking at DRtg over a sample of just a third of a season, but the Bulls are 27th at the moment.
   1907. JC in DC Posted: December 11, 2017 at 10:40 PM (#5590535)
I just don't think Fizdale was the problem.
   1908. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: December 11, 2017 at 11:59 PM (#5590553)
Markkanen out for the Bulls tonight, back spasms. The Celtics catch a break :)


Or BFFs Portis and Mirotic could combine for 47 points on 19-29 shooting in his stead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

   1909. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:57 AM (#5590567)
Checking in on the Raptors, their transformation seems to be sticking. They're shooting 32 threes a game instead of 24 last year, and with their midrangers gone (and more rim attempts), their 2P% is up from .505 to .565 (their 3pt percentage has stabilized at a similar rate to last year after lagging earlier in the season -- .355 now to last year's .363). Their FTA are down and turnovers are up, which does moderate some of the gains.

One interesting thing is that they've done this BOTH by incorporating more rim-and-3 players and by existing players changing their methods. DeRozan, the midrange king, is shooting 32% of his shots this year from at the rim and behind the arc, compared to 24% last year (he has almost doubled his 3PA%). Lowry is taking 84% of his shots from those ranges compared to 70% last year. Ibaka is at 58% compared to 45%. Valanciunas is at 55% compared to 45%. Siakam is at 73% compared to 50% (! -- this difference is mostly in starting to shoot 3s). For some more benchy players, Norm Powell 75% -> 77%, Poeltl 72% -> 74%, Delon Wright 63% -> 80%. Then the new people are doing this at high rates too, Anunoby at 91% restricted + 3, VanVleet 79%, CJ Miles 86% (Cory Joseph, leading minutes player last year who's not on the team this year, was at 45%).

Anyway, the Raptors are 17-7 with the best point differential in the East (3rd best overall), which of course continues to relegate them to an afterthought behind BOS and CLE until they show up in the playoffs. That's fair, they've earned that rep, but they've changed how they play on offense quite a bit this year.
   1910. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:13 AM (#5590624)
I know I shouldn't, but I feel bad for the middle Ball kid. By all accounts, he won't be a pro, so going to UCLA for four years, getting a degree and just having a good time being part of a storied basketball program and just being a college kid could have been the best years of his life. Too cute by half, LaVar.

Jeez, Jordan Bell. Once he's accrued enough minutes to qualify for bb-ref's leader board he'll be top 10 in BPM and ws/48 and he'll be first in TS%. Of course, those numbers will go down with playing time, theoretically, but damn. More importantly than that, he's getting better on switching onto smaller players on the perimeters which will be the key to him getting minutes. He really struggled with that early in the season but he's really much more committed to getting into his stance and moving his feet now. He's also more confident taking that short mid-range jumper.

OKC is a really expensive dumpster fire. Even their wins recently have been unimpressive. The lesson is that we should all be more circumspect about criticizing trades. (Like everyone else I was dead wrong about the George trade though I was right about the Carmelo trade! I'm only half a dope!)

I wish the NBA had scheduled Warriors-Rockets or Warriors-Thunder for Christmas instead of the Cavs. Even I'm tired of the Cavs.
   1911. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:27 AM (#5590638)
OKC is a really expensive dumpster fire. Even their wins recently have been unimpressive. The lesson is that we should all be more circumspect about criticizing trades.

I'm still convinced Oladipo will come back to earth and make that one okay, but it does seem like OKC has a habit of winning the headlines on the day of these deals but then getting meh returns in the long run.
   1912. JC in DC Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5590641)
[1910] I was thinking about the Ball move as well. How long do they last in Lithuania anyway? There's no chance this is good for either boy, is there? I mean, sure, they get the pop from the media, and will get another when they pull out, but I agree with your "cute by half" comment.

Re OKC: I really wonder how good they'd be if they cut Carmelo loose. To me, it's almost like the Rose situation on Cleveland: he may be more harm than help. I was higher than most on the Knicks end of that trade, and I think even early returns bear this out: it was addition by subtraction and also just addition. Melo, who I think is a good guy and handled himself well last year, is not effective in teams trying to move the ball. He just kills flow.
   1913. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5590658)
it was addition by subtraction and also just addition.

I think so, too. I live in the Knicks broadcast area and just getting rid of Carmelo and Phil Jackson has made the Knicks a regular, fun NBA team to watch. Kanter and McDermott aren't great but they are useful role players and it's freed up Porzingis and Hornacek to do their work. (Also, the Nets are surprisingly fun to watch. They aren't good but they move the ball around and play with energy at least.)
   1914. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:57 AM (#5590661)
I know I shouldn't, but I feel bad for the middle Ball kid. By all accounts, he won't be a pro, so going to UCLA for four years, getting a degree and just having a good time being part of a storied basketball program and just being a college kid could have been the best years of his life. Too cute by half, LaVar.

Feels like a bummer for the younger one, too. Even if he winds up in the NBA, does he really want to spend the equivalent of his junior and senior years in high school in Lithuania? There's also this, from Deadspin:
According to Woj, the brothers will see most of their playing time in the Baltic League, and there are plenty of reasons to think that Vytautas is primarily signing the two teens for marketing reasons. They are apparently having serious financial problems, and they reportedly have no general manager and can’t afford to host practices.

That doesn't seem ideal for development purposes.
   1915. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:03 AM (#5590668)
That doesn't seem ideal for development purposes.

That's all right, LaVar will coach everyone!

If the youngest Ball is such a good prospect, why isn't LaVar approaching some of the bigger teams in Europe like Real Madrid or CSKA? Those clubs actually have real life development programs.
   1916. puck Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:06 AM (#5590671)
If the youngest Ball is such a good prospect, why isn't LaVar approaching some of the bigger teams in Europe like Real Madrid or CSKA? Those clubs actually have real life development programs.

Because then the clubs would have control?

I also wonder if he's such a prospect that clubs would want the headaches. He scores a lot, but there are reports that he and his team didn't play D, to the extent that at times he did a lot of cherry picking.

Edit: also heard it needed to be a package deal--take both Balls. Why kick one ball when you can kick both.
   1917. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5590685)
1916 all makes sense and is another data point that Ball, for all he's done to get his kids to this point, is probably hurting them now. Too bad the ABA isn't around anymore! I finally read (listened during my commute, technically), to Terry Pluto's history of the ABA. I think this is my All Guys Who Should Have Been ABA Players Team:

PG: TJ McConnell
SG: James Harden
SF: Dion Waiters
PF Michael Beasley
C DeMarcus Cousins
   1918. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5590703)
Yeah, I don't think this ends well for either Ball kid. But, we shall see.

As noted, it seems like the team they're going to is a bit of a train wreck.
   1919. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:35 AM (#5590704)
"We talk to each other sometimes. ... And I feel like he basically kind of lost his job because of me, because I missed two years. So I feel like I owe him a lot."
-Joel Embiid, on former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie


If the youngest Ball is such a good prospect, why isn't LaVar approaching some of the bigger teams in Europe like Real Madrid or CSKA? Those clubs actually have real life development programs.
sure they have development programs, but young players don't actually play very much for them. maybe 10 MPG on a good day.

I know I shouldn't, but I feel bad for the middle Ball kid. By all accounts, he won't be a pro, so going to UCLA for four years, getting a degree and just having a good time being part of a storied basketball program and just being a college kid could have been the best years of his life. Too cute by half, LaVar.
if he fails as a prospect, he can take out a loan to get his degree. he'll be fine.

and this didn't happen because of lavar, it happened because liangelo chose to shoplift.
   1920. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:35 AM (#5590706)
Or BFFs Portis and Mirotic could combine for 47 points on 19-29 shooting in his stead. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Would you call them a 1-2 punch even?
   1921. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:37 AM (#5590710)
and this didn't happen because of lavar, it happened because liangelo chose to shoplift.

Nah. He wasn't kicked out of UCLA, and the youngest one wasn't even in China.
   1922. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5590716)
if he fails as a prospect, he can take out a loan to get his degree. he'll be fine.

It's not about the money or the degree, even. It's about losing the experience. And for no good reason, really, other than LaVar's ego.
   1923. JC in DC Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:58 AM (#5590740)
[1922] Exactly. You get one opportunity in your life to play HS or college ball; to play with freedom and just be great and have fun with your mates and so on. And LaVar is taking that from his kids because ... BBB?
   1924. jmurph Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:15 PM (#5590826)
The Rockets-Pelicans box score from last night was just insane. I only watched a few minutes of the game, but I found it to be less entertaining than the numbers would indicate. New Orleans scored 123 points and got only 3 from the bench! Surely that's a record of some kind.
   1925. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:43 PM (#5590853)
The Rockets-Pelicans box score from last night was just insane. I only watched a few minutes of the game, but I found it to be less entertaining than the numbers would indicate. New Orleans scored 123 points and got only 3 from the bench! Surely that's a record of some kind.

The first half was really fun for the chunks I saw, the second half was just frantic and sloppy but with good intensity. Boogie was gassed in the 4th and the Pelicans kinda fell apart on both sides. Boogie wasn't able to play that kind of pace+minutes combo, and it seemed like Capela was getting dunks every other play in semi-transition.

Harden had 14 assists in the first half, last I saw.
   1926. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 12, 2017 at 12:45 PM (#5590857)
We'll see what happens with Lamelo, but I'm really not sure this is the best thing for ensuring he's drafted high in the NBA. Guys seem to be given much of a mulligan for a bad freshman year in college. Although, who knows, Brandon Jennings didn't do much overseas and then was still drafted high and mostly panned out, right?
   1927. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 12, 2017 at 01:25 PM (#5590880)
He had no chance of being drafted so this won't make a difference.
   1928. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2017 at 01:55 PM (#5590905)
   1929. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: December 12, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5590929)
I feel bad for all the Ball children. I mean, maybe he is a great dad and they are a great family, but somehow I doubt that. Crazy, high pressure parents who relentlessly push their children often lead to unhappy children and then unhappy adults (in my experience).
   1930. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: December 12, 2017 at 03:05 PM (#5590978)
Kawhi back tonight.
   1931. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2017 at 05:24 PM (#5591160)
Fran Fraschilla‏ @franfraschilla

Prominant former American player who played for Ball brothers's new coach had some insight on him: 1. Competent coach w/free-wheeling pick-and-roll offense. 2. Speaks no English 3. Screams the entire game. 4. Sold meat out of his car trunk to his players after practice. I swear.

4:01 PM - 12 Dec 2017
   1932. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 12, 2017 at 05:34 PM (#5591168)
Fran Fraschilla‏ @franfraschilla

Prominant former American player who played for Ball brothers's new coach had some insight on him: 1. Competent coach w/free-wheeling pick-and-roll offense. 2. Speaks no English 3. Screams the entire game. 4. Sold meat out of his car trunk to his players after practice. I swear.

4:01 PM - 12 Dec 2017
i'd play for him.
   1933. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 12, 2017 at 05:53 PM (#5591181)
Nothing is more Big Baller than trunk meat.
   1934. smileyy Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:03 PM (#5591260)
LeBron is having a nice little night
   1935. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:18 PM (#5591268)
This LAL-NYK thing is a lot more entertaining than I had expected.
   1936. JC in DC Posted: December 12, 2017 at 09:53 PM (#5591288)
Frankie N is going to be good.
   1937. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:11 PM (#5591306)
I really have grown to love Jamal Crawford.
   1938. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 12, 2017 at 11:54 PM (#5591418)
This is a hell of a ballgame.
   1939. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: December 13, 2017 at 03:19 AM (#5591448)
Wonderful night for KP. Frank is obviously not setting the world on fire as a shooter, but there are moments when it seems like he might develop a nice jumper. When he’s playing big-time defense in the fourth quarter I have to remind myself he’s only a teenager. It’s pretty wild when you think about it. I’m anticipating some turbulence in the next month as it pertains to the team’s won-loss record, but it’s been a pretty positive season so far for the Knicks. And who knows... they’ve been so heinous on the road maybe there will be a positive regression.
   1940. stevegamer Posted: December 13, 2017 at 03:48 AM (#5591451)
1931:

Having sold meat (mostly whole beef filets for filet mignon) out of my car trunk after winning a supermarket sweep, I can appreciate that coach. And he's competent with a free-wheeling offense! Meat was still in supermarket packaging - luckily it was winter here in Philly when I won.

   1941. stevegamer Posted: December 13, 2017 at 03:49 AM (#5591452)
76ers had a nice OT win tonight, even though they turned the ball over way too much. I was pretty confident when it got to OT, because the Wolves have a guy or two ( Wiggings, notably) that I wouldn't want closing out games.
   1942. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 13, 2017 at 09:04 AM (#5591498)
Not to mention everyone on the Wolves was exhausted.
   1943. JC in DC Posted: December 13, 2017 at 09:30 AM (#5591524)
Both those games were pretty fun. The Knicks-Lakers thing would be fun as a rivalry, if NYK and LA can get all their stuff together. Ball v. Frank was fun to watch in the 4th and in OT. Man, KP gets very few calls from the refs for a "superstar." I guess he's got a ways to go, still, before he earns their respect.

The 76er game was pretty fun too. (In both games there are stretches of some very bad play.) But Embiid is just something else. I love watching him play.
   1944. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 13, 2017 at 10:36 AM (#5591571)
Not to mention everyone on the Wolves was exhausted.


Shocker.
   1945. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 13, 2017 at 11:04 AM (#5591608)
i did not expect to get that win.

embiid played 39 minutes last night. a reminder, he sat out both ends of a doubleheader this weekend for A) load management, game 1 and B) his back tightened up pre-game, game 2. this is not good player management.

embiid is 6th in MPG among centers(/tall guys who rebound adequately).

here's something flying under the radar when it comes to the sixers: their 2 biggest flaws are turning the ball over on offense and fouling on defense. both of those flaws are due to inexperience, and they will grow out of them.
   1946. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 13, 2017 at 11:38 AM (#5591656)
LeBron is currently posting the highest PER of his career. I did not think it would happen, but the LeBron>Jordan argument is starting to come into focus (on the merits, not the legacy/narrative).
   1947. jmurph Posted: December 13, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5591661)
This LAL-NYK thing is a lot more entertaining than I had expected.

Agreed, that was fun. Even on tv the Garden crowd is so much fun when there is good action on the court (that stretch in the...3rd, I think, when both teams were making everything, was great). Made up for the later game, which was close and tense and everything but mostly featured terrible play, I thought. Good road win for the Sixers.
   1948. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5591703)
LeBron is currently posting the highest PER of his career. I did not think it would happen, but the LeBron>Jordan argument is starting to come into focus (on the merits, not the legacy/narrative).
i think lebron has jordan beat in legacy, but we're too close to see it.

jordan's legacy is "republicans buy sneakers, too".
lebron is empowering black businesses and black business owners, fighting for players rights, speaking out on social issues, investing in real estate, launching successful businesses, and there's probably a lot more under the surface.

jordan stayed in his lane.
lebron is oprah 2.0.


durant also deserves a nod for what he's doing as a venture capitalist in silicon valley. i'm not as familiar with that, but it could be a big storyline going forward (both outside, and inside, NBA circles)
   1949. Booey Posted: December 13, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5591713)
I did not think it would happen, but the LeBron>Jordan argument is starting to come into focus (on the merits, not the legacy/narrative).


Most people will never be able to see past 6-0 vs 3-5 in the Finals.
   1950. jmurph Posted: December 13, 2017 at 12:13 PM (#5591726)
Most people will never be able to see past 6-0 vs 3-5 in the Finals.

This will definitely be a thing for a lot of people. But I think we (meaning the general basketball public, not us) won't properly appreciate his Finals appearance streak until years after it's over when it becomes clear that it's unlikely to be replicated- assuming he does indeed stop making Finals appearances at some point.
   1951. Fourth True Outcome Posted: December 13, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5591832)
assuming he does indeed stop making Finals appearances at some point.

Even the most strident LeBron hater will come around on him as GOAT by about 2035, when player-coach LeBron hits 25 straight finals appearances at the helm of the NeoLos Angeles Corsairs...
   1952. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:10 PM (#5591919)
Pretty much if beating the 73 win Golden State Warriors didn't win people over, nothing will.

FWIW, Jordan's post-season legacy is pretty absurd, as well, and 6-0 probably should be a point in his favor. I just think enough of the other points are in LeBron's favor that I still would give him the nod.
   1953. maccoach57 Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:16 PM (#5591929)
James/Jordan:

Jordan was a crossover pop culture icon in a way that James isn't, in part because of the different eras, in part because of playing style, and in part because of appearance, public personality, etc. Jordan was fascinating even to people who didn't care about basketball, which I don't think is true of James, although James does appear to be a more interesting and thoughtful guy than Jordan.

But on the floor, yeah, James has pretty much passed Jordan in some ways now, I think, especially if he stays close to what he is doing now for the rest of this year. James will be 33 in two weeks, and this is his 14th year with no baseball sabbaticals or serious injuries, plus there is the massive added mileage from the yearly Finals trips. And he is not slowing down at all yet. The guy literally seems to be some sort of genetically-engineered creation to pay back Cleveland sports fans for their half-century of misery.

Cleveland's PYTH is 17-11, their roster is not that good, James is averaging 37 MPG again, and he is shooting .422 from the arc. Those are all negative signs for the rest of this year. But I would probably say that James is now the GOAT ahead of Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar.
   1954. smileyy Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:20 PM (#5591934)
FWIW, Jordan's post-season legacy is pretty absurd, as well, and 6-0 probably should be a point in his favor. I just think enough of the other points are in LeBron's favor that I still would give him the nod.


That's about how I feel.

If LeBron is a 40% 3P shooter, the world if *($#ed trying to stop him.

Whatever rate stat that's the composite of USG and eFG% is, LeBron must be destroying the league in it.
   1955. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:55 PM (#5591971)
the LeBron>Jordan argument is starting to come into focus (on the merits, not the legacy/narrative)

He'll definitely surpass MJ in career value, if he hasn't already. MJ's prime was really only 11 regular seasons (removing the mostly-lost seasons due to injury and retirement) and 13 playoffs. LeBron's already in his 15th season, with all but his rookie year being at a very high level. I'd take peak MJ over peak LeBron while realizing it's a legitimate question. I consider ease of domination to be the biggest factor, as this era is much more suited to ball-handlers and non-bigs. In my opinion, the gap between Jordan and his contemporaries is significantly larger than the gap between LeBron and his. I am also biased as a Bulls fan who grew up in the Jordan era.

I view LeBron's Finals streak pretty much how I view Magic's Finals appearances. Certainly impressive, but massively inflated due to conference imbalance. At least a couple of those years LeBron's team wouldn't have made it past the 2nd round in the West. How much credit do you get for having the deck stacked in your favor? I suppose LeBron should get more credit than most in that sense, since he in large part chose his circumstances through free agency.

In terms of legacy in the way Stiggles means it, they're 1 and 2 in league history, with Magic and Bird right behind them. Magic and Bird brought the NBA to the national consciousness, MJ elevated it into a global brand well beyond any other US league (while becoming a global icon himself), and LeBron revived it after a few relatively lean years and will probably retire with the NBA matching or exceeding the NFL in terms of US popularity.
   1956. smileyy Posted: December 13, 2017 at 03:09 PM (#5591987)
I view LeBron's Finals streak pretty much how I view Magic's Finals appearances. Certainly impressive, but massively inflated due to conference imbalance. At least a couple of those years LeBron's team wouldn't have made it past the 2nd round in the West. How much credit do you get for having the deck stacked in your favor?


There's something to be said for that. I also look at it from the point of view of the number of extra miles he's put on his body with that many Finals appearances and how remarkable that makes his regular seasons like this one. A 33-year-old with that many minutes played shouldn't be having one of the best years of his career.
   1957. jmurph Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5592060)
At least a couple of those years LeBron's team wouldn't have made it past the 2nd round in the West.

Which years? Not counting the 1st Cavs appearance, which isn't a part of the streak anyway.

I don't think this case could be made during the 4 Heat years, and I think the only Cavs year in question is the year Kyrie and Love got hurt (I'm actually forgetting when Kyrie got hurt that year, I think it was pre-Finals). Were the Cavs definitely better than San Antonio the last two years or OKC during Durant's last season? I don't know, but I think to assume they definitely weren't is a real reach.
   1958. Booey Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:53 PM (#5592066)
Which years?


Well, last year for sure, since the Cavs 51 wins would have tied for 4th/5th in the West, meaning they would have drawn the Warriors in the 2nd round. You mention beating the Spurs and/or OKC, but they'd have to get to those series first; a low 50's win total in the West usually won't even get you HC in the 1st round.
   1959. Tin Angel Posted: December 13, 2017 at 05:02 PM (#5592076)
Good article on Thibs.

Thibodeau has used a ninth player only once in December, so far. Back on the first of the month, Shabazz Muhammad checked in for Butler with about 10:30 left to play in the first half against the Thunder. He checked out three minutes later, and did not return.
   1960. Rob_Wood Posted: December 13, 2017 at 06:19 PM (#5592136)
In my opinion the media use Lebron's X consecutive finals appearances as a short-hand label to reflect how great he has been. Nobody that I know puts any actual "value" in his appearing in X consecutive finals as (1) losing in the finals basically negates the importance of making the finals and (2) conference imbalance makes the "streak" highly dubious to say the least.

I'm too lazy to look it up, but didn't Jerry West make the NBA finals 8 of 9 consecutive seasons in the 1960's. Same thing. An interesting label trying to convey how great Jerry West was. But West lost every Finals and it has become something of a millstone around Jerry's neck. The East was generally the much stronger conference back in the 1960's. (A side-by-side comparison between Jerry West and Oscar Robertson is always fascinating.) Of course, West was an all-time great and it was not his "fault" that the Lakers lost all those Finals to the Celtics.
   1961. JC in DC Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:00 PM (#5592151)
To Rob's point, how would, say, San Antonio have done in the East towards the end of Duncan's career, had they been in the East? There seems something rather random about saying a team or guy made the Finals a lot, when we we're talking about the second-best team, at best, and we all know that we're not really talking about the second best team.
   1962. Tin Angel Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:17 PM (#5592159)
If we are going that route, those Knicks, Cavs, and Heat teams Jordan tore through weren't exactly all time greats either.
   1963. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:26 PM (#5592162)
Lots of good local radio banter looking back on the paul George trade as he returns to Indy tonight. My NBA memory isn't good in this respect, but wasn't the consensus that the Pacers were taken?
   1964. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:32 PM (#5592164)
Thibs is bullshit and I’m already tired of him.
   1965. smileyy Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:43 PM (#5592169)
Thibs seems like "A Guy Who Figured Out One Innovative Thing" -- and that thing is now passe as the league has caught up and changed. He's not "A Guy Who Innovates".
   1966. smileyy Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:49 PM (#5592171)
ESPN is telling me this happened 34 years ago:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/198312130DEN.html

The teams were a combined 2-4 from 3. To be fair, they only went for 145 in regulation.
   1967. Booey Posted: December 13, 2017 at 07:51 PM (#5592172)
#1962 - It's true that the East was the weaker conference overall during Jordan's reign, but the fact that the Bulls were a perfect 6-0 against the Western Champs leads me to believe that conference strength didn't have much effect on Chicago's postseason record.

LeBron's 3-4 Finals record during the streak, OTOH, gives valid reason to doubt whether the Heat and Cavs would have had as many Finals appearances in the West.
   1968. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 13, 2017 at 08:16 PM (#5592189)
Good article on Thibs.
agreed:
According to the NBA’s stats site, Minnesota’s starting five—Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns—is the NBA’s most used five-man lineup, by miles. Through 28 games, that lineup has logged 167 more minutes—nearly three and a half more games—than any other lineup.

From the 3:41 mark of the third quarter to the end of overtime, Towns never sat, logging nearly 26 straight minutes of action

As you might expect, treating his players like they are not human beings has tended not to work out super duper well for those players

This past February, 21-year-old Zach LaVine was averaging more than 37 minutes per game for the Timberwolves when he hurt his knee on an awkward landing in a close contest against the Detroit Pistons; after he finished writhing on the floor and clutching his knee in visible agony, Thibodeau allowed him to play six more minutes in that game, on what turned out to be a torn ACL.
   1969. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 13, 2017 at 08:17 PM (#5592191)
Thibs seems like "A Guy Who Figured Out One Innovative Thing" -- and that thing is now passe as the league has caught up and changed. He's not "A Guy Who Innovates".

the same thing happened to andy reid here in philly. he was innovative when he was hired, but the rest of the league adopted and improved on his ideas and he was stuck in neutral.
   1970. JC in DC Posted: December 13, 2017 at 08:40 PM (#5592206)
OKC will be a very good team if they can ever integrate Adams consistently into the offense. That guy is a beast on the glass; he just needs to be a more consistent go-to for them, in part b/c it's a sign the ball is moving the way they need to move it.
   1971. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 13, 2017 at 09:36 PM (#5592243)
Giving one guy coaching and GM responsibility is a terrible idea. Coaches are labor, not management.
   1972. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 13, 2017 at 10:06 PM (#5592254)
I'm really excited to see a Houston/Golden State matchup. I think sadly the Spurs even with a healthy Leonard will struggle with this Houston team. And that may not even matter, as Houston getting the #1 seed seems well in play.
   1973. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 13, 2017 at 10:14 PM (#5592259)
Obviously Paul was the big signing, but I really like the PJ Tucker fit too. Him and Paul give them some nasty on the defensive side of the ball. They're a ####### handful. They just blitzed Charlotte here over the last like 5 minutes of gametime, and the game is over and we're like 4 minutes into the second quarter.
   1974. Davo and his Moose Tacos Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:39 AM (#5592306)
Ok. You guys know basketball. I don't. I just like watching it on TV. So I'm hoping you can tell me if my opinion that the quality of play has increased by leaps and ############# bounds over the last couple of decades is complete bollocks or not.

I went to YouTube and picked a random game from the 90s to watch. This one. Game 4, Sonics versus Nuggets.

...Like, it's ####, right? Absolute ####? #### passes, #### jumpers, #### ball-handling, #### strategy, #### everything. The point guards will just walk the ball up the court, dribble with their back to the basket and their defender right on them for 10 seconds, then throw it into the high post and have some random center fling it at the hoop. Or throw it to some guy who's standing around the perimeter so he can take a 19-foot jump shot. (Like, I've never seen guys intentionally set up to take jump shots from two feet inside the 3-point line, but these dudes are doing it all the ####### time.) The ####???

Shawn Kemp seems to know what's going on. We could pop him in the time machine and he'd fit right in. But the rest of these players are just ####### ####.

--I watch a game now, and it's like, holy ####, these guys can do ####### EVERYTHING. 7 foot dudes who can shoot 3s and beat their dude off the dribble. Seemingly every turnover leads to a fast-break dunk or wide open 3 because every player on the court is so good at passing. Drives to the hoop....it's like, there's no such thing as an out-of-control shot, these guys have mastered every single angle and know exactly the right amount of english to put on the ball to knock it down from any spot. And the offenses these guys run--it's all so fast! Every player is doing something, and it's all extremely quick, with guys cutting to the hoop or setting picks and it's so damn fast and exciting. None of this "Oh, let's dribble the ball in place 30 feet from the hoop for 10 seconds while the rest of my teammates stand around" bullshit from the 90s.

Anyway, my question is: this is my opinion as a super layman. (And as a pretty young layman--I first got into basketball around 1996.) What do you experts think?
   1975. tshipman Posted: December 14, 2017 at 01:54 AM (#5592315)
@Davo:

Rule changes have a big impact on the game, but there really has been an increase in skill due to teams selecting for different things.

For most of basketball history, the goal was to get as close as you could to the rim before shooting. Shots made at the rim had a higher success rate and were more consistent. If you could consistently get to the rim and get your shot, you were well on your way to having a great offense.

In this way, big men were the most valuable players--they were good at getting shots close to the rim, and they could defend against the same. Plus, they were low turnover players because they could take shots after they had already established position. Kareem was probably the best example of this. Early career Kareem was able to take 25 shots per game at an incredible efficiency--57%. He also was able to anchor a defense. For the first 20 years of Kareem's career, he had a team in the top half in offense and defense. The only real defense against the skyhook was to prevent Kareem from getting the ball. Teams were able to experiment with hard double teams to strip and steal the ball from bigs.

The league then introduced the 3per. Originally it was mostly a novelty act, but it did help to provide more spacing on the court. That spacing, and transcendent talent, helped increase the value of guards, most notably guys like Jordan.

Jordan's ability to go 1 on 1 was incredibly valuable because he was able to get that same shot close at the rim, but because he was a guard, he could also start with the ball in the back court. It was impossible to deny him the ball consistently because he could beat his man from the 3p line and get to the rim. That became the dominant model for building an offense. Because it was illegal to bring help on the perimeter except for with a hard double team, it was incredibly hard to stop this model of offense. In fact, it was so reliable that the pace of play was able to slow down. A single MJ was so consistent and valuable that you wanted to make sure that you maximized your percentage of those possessions in a game.

In 2001-2002, the league allowed zone defenses again for the first time. Initially, the impact was limited--college zone schemes were relatively ineffective against NBA talent. However, starting about 2008, Tom Thibodeau figured out how to drop back into a hybrid defense: the strong-side zone blitz. Here's Zach Lowe on this:

Thibodeau didn’t invent this system, and he’s loath to take any public credit for it, but coaches, scouts, and executives all over the league agree he was the first coach to stretch the limits of the NBA’s newish defensive three-second rule and flood the strong side with hybrid man/zone defenses. Other coaches have copied that style, and smart offenses over the last two seasons — and especially this season — have had to adapt. The evolution will have long-lasting consequences on multiple fronts — on the league’s entertainment value, the importance of smart coaching, and the sorts of players that GMs seek out in the draft and via free agency.


Lowe's writing here was prescient. Teams changed their drafting strategies slowly, emphasizing traditional skills for too long. Curry and the Warriors really forced the rest of the league's hand. Here was someone who broke all the rules. He could shoot off the dribble 28 feet from the basket, so the SSZ was useless. When paired with a passing big man that could set screens, it meant that the scrambling to prevent Curry from getting off a shot resulted in easy 4-3 plays that gave free releases to cuts to the basket. In effect, the old formula was inverted: instead of getting penetration to set up the outside shot, the outside shot was able to set up penetration.

Because defenses were able to send more people at you the closer you got to the basket, the skills that used to be so important suddenly became much less valuable. As the league added more and more shooters, it became more and more important to stick with them. When you watch 90's basketball, you're watching a different league. MJ would be much less effective trying to post up guys in 2017 than he was in 1997. However, Curry would also be much less impactful in the 90's game.
   1976. stevegamer Posted: December 14, 2017 at 06:23 AM (#5592319)
Davo:

The rule changes mentioned by tshipman are important. You picked the first ever 8 seed upset of a 1 seed, by the way. 3 pointers were just not very common then.

Other than Kemp the following guys would fit into today's game:

Nuggets:
Dikembe Mutmbo. One of the greatest defensive big men ever. Not very much of an offensive game, but when you are a 4 time defensive player of the year and are 7'2", you have a definite role in any era. Maybe if people get to be 8 feet tall regularly, that would change

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. He would take shots from anywhere, and make a lot of them from crazy distances. He'd be a high usage off guard inthis era, but he would fir fine as a shooter.

SuperSonics:

Sam Perkins. A big man who could shoot the 3. He's a floor stretching big in today's game.

Gary Payton. Elite defensive PG with quickness and steals instinct. Also had a decent 3 point shot in his time, but he was young in this series, and functioning more as a combo guard.

Detlef Schrempf. A great shooter for the era, and still ranks high in career shooting stats. Could also clean the defensive glass pretty well for a shooting wing.

Nate McMillan - maybe. A PG that wasn't as elite as Payton, but with a higher assist rate.
   1977. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 07:15 AM (#5592324)
[1974] Your general impression is correct. One of my favorite thuoght exercises is to find a guy from the '90s, when I first started watching, and think of a modern player who is a similar build then imagine him with the modern player's skillset. For example, the sight of Rik Smits being able to shoot 3s and capably put the ball on the ground and pull off crossovers and between the legs moves to get from the 3 point line to the basket like Porzingis would blow Young Me's ####### mind.
   1978. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 07:38 AM (#5592325)
   1979. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 14, 2017 at 09:19 AM (#5592348)
Embiid is the best.
truth.
I'm hoping you can tell me if my opinion that the quality of play has increased by leaps and ############# bounds over the last couple of decades is complete bollocks or not.

I went to YouTube and picked a random game from the 90s to watch. This one. Game 4, Sonics versus Nuggets.

...Like, it's ####, right? Absolute ####? #### passes, #### jumpers, #### ball-handling, #### strategy, #### everything.
also, truth.
However, Curry would also be much less impactful in the 90's game.
not truth.

we all know about curry's jumpshot, but he has the same wiggle that iverson had. he can shake anyone when he has the ball in his hands. add in his ability to shoot off screens and he'd easily get you 30 PPG on comparable efficiency.

whether he could hold up against that level of physicality is a different question, but if he could stay healthy, he'd have been one of the best players in the world.
   1980. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 09:27 AM (#5592352)
Well, last year for sure, since the Cavs 51 wins would have tied for 4th/5th in the West, meaning they would have drawn the Warriors in the 2nd round. You mention beating the Spurs and/or OKC, but they'd have to get to those series first; a low 50's win total in the West usually won't even get you HC in the 1st round.

I think if we're magically transporting LeBron's teams to the West in this exercise, it's not appropriate to just assume everyone's win totals would stay the same. I've argued this is overblown, but surely most people accept some amount of coasting during the previous 3 years from the Cavs. Unless of course we actually think the Hawks and Celtics were notably better in the years they got homecourt. I certainly don't remember that being the consensus around here.

Nobody that I know puts any actual "value" in his appearing in X consecutive finals as (1) losing in the finals basically negates the importance of making the finals

You know some interesting people! I can't imagine literally anyone sharing this opinion.
   1981. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: December 14, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5592363)
Those are not interesting people, they are following the Bill Simmons principle that only winning the title matters so if you have no chance of winning the title, you should be tanking and it's dumb that 18 teams aren't tanking every year.
   1982. TFTIO's onanism is a process Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:06 AM (#5592367)
Abdul-Rauf was Curry before Curry. Obviously, he wasn't as good -- for one thing, he was less physically capable. But he had the Curry mix of skills, and would fit right in on a modern NBA offense.
   1983. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:57 AM (#5592430)
At least a couple of those years LeBron's team wouldn't have made it past the 2nd round in the West.

Which years? Not counting the 1st Cavs appearance, which isn't a part of the streak anyway.

I don't think this case could be made during the 4 Heat years, and I think the only Cavs year in question is the year Kyrie and Love got hurt (I'm actually forgetting when Kyrie got hurt that year, I think it was pre-Finals). Were the Cavs definitely better than San Antonio the last two years or OKC during Durant's last season? I don't know, but I think to assume they definitely weren't is a real reach.


In LeBron's first year in Miami, 2011, the Heat were arguably the best team in the league. Despite struggling in close games, they had the NBA's best SRS, 3 of the top 5 players in the East--all at their peak--and at a time when the top of the East was surprisingly strong. The Bulls surged to the league's best record and hadn't yet started to break down, it was the final year of uber-peak Dwight in Orlando, and the Celtics were still formidable. Miami knocked off both the Bulls and Celtics in reaching the Finals. This was far and away the best competition the LeBrons have faced to reach the Finals in his career. No other year comes close. There's zero reason to suggest this Heat team wouldn't have made the WCF, even though they fell apart in the Finals.

Over the next 6 seasons, the LeBrons continued making the Finals every year. Over that span, they have been better than the following teams:
(a) the Spurs
(b) the Thunder
(c) the Warriors
(d) the Clippers
(e) none of the above

The correct answer is (e), at least by SRS. Here's how many WCFs those teams have made in that span:
Spurs: 4
Thunder: 3
Warriors: 3
Clippers: 0

Given your view that LeBron teams coast in the regular season, I'll presume you don't think this is a fair representation, so I'll go year by year.

Specifically, I doubt that the LeBrons would've made the WCF in the following years: 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. In 2012, Bosh was injured and they narrowly scraped by mediocre teams in the 2nd round and ECF before getting healthy and having their role players shoot the lights out in the Finals, all while every Thunder player not named Kevin Durant faded. They won the title but likely would've lost in the 2nd round in the West. In 2014, the Heat were not a contender-quality team (7th by SRS), hence the fact that they lost one of the most statistically lopsided Finals ever and LeBron decided he was better off elsewhere. In 2015, the non-LeBron stars got hurt in the playoffs. The East was terrible, and the refs let Delly do a lot of really dangerous stuff on the court and purposefully ignored David Blatt calling timeouts he didn't have. No chance this team makes the WCF. In 2017, the Cavs were not particularly good in the regular season. They continued to be mediocre in the playoffs against a woeful Pacers team. Then they blew out a couple non-contenders whose best player was hobbled or inactive, and the media pretended the Cavs were great. They were not. They almost certainly would not have made the WCF.

In 2013 the LeBrons didn't play anyone to reach the Finals, but that was a really good team (2nd by SRS). I'd say it's probable they make the WCF though the West was absolutely loaded that year and it's far from a given. In 2016 the top of the West was even more of a gauntlet. The Cavs wound up winning the Finals that year after catching a few big breaks, though it seems more likely than not that they wouldn't have made the WCF.

If the exercise consists of adding the LeBrons to the West without removing another of the West's contenders, I'd estimate that the LeBrons would've made the WCF twice in the past 7 years, and 3 times seems like the upper limit. If we're swapping out, say OKC, and moving them to the East, then Durant likely inherits the "Finals streak" narrative while LeBron's legacy is more along the lines of Wilt.
   1984. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5592475)
In 2014, the Heat were not a contender-quality team (7th by SRS), hence the fact that they lost one of the most statistically lopsided Finals ever and LeBron decided he was better off elsewhere.

The Spurs performance in Games 3-5 of that Finals is the best basketball I've ever seen played. I don't think there's a single thing any team could have done to stop what happened in those games. And perhaps this is the LeBron apologist in me, but I think of that series as more competitive than it will be remembered because absent cramps I'm confident the Heat win G1 and you're looking at a 6 game series.

Anyway, to answer your initial question, about which teams the LeBrons were "better" than over the 6 season stretch, which I don't think is a purely quantitative exercise, I would say yes to the Thunder and Clippers and no to the (latter portion) Warriors and depends for the Spurs. If the measure is making it to the WCF, years where the LeBrons would have to face both the Spurs and Warriors are the years where there's a question. The LeBrons have had very real matchup advantages against the Thunder that make me confident about their chance of beating them, just as the Thunder had very real matchup advantages against the Spurs that made me confident about the Thunder's chances against them (and reduce the chance for the LeBrons to have to face GSW and SAS).

Two WCF in seven years strikes me as definitively low.
   1985. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 11:26 AM (#5592483)
Given your view that LeBron teams coast in the regular season

Again I just want to note the irony of me defending this view, given that I think I've been the most dismissive of this idea of anyone in this entire thread for the past two seasons (specifically relating to Cleveland's defense).

I'm honestly a little surprised by the number of you on this side of things and I'm now curious what others think. I kind of hate that I'm making this completely anti-analytical "BUT LEBRON" argument, but I'm just not compelled by SRS rankings of teams when we're talking about a pure hypothetical. That LeBron has taken inferior teams to the Finals is the actual impressive accomplishment here, for the record.

Take 2015, for instance, probably the most obvious example. The Hawks were a stronger team by SRS than the Cavs, yet LeBron, without Love, and without Kyrie for 2 of the 4 games, dismantled the Hawks in the playoffs. 4-0. They then took 2 from Golden State with Matthew ####### Dellavedova serving as his sidekick. Toronto had the clear SRS advantage last year over Cleveland. They too got dismantled in the playoffs, 4-0.

Is 7 straight in the East as impressive as 7 straight in the West would be? Of course not. And if Golden State does that I'll certainly give them the heavy historical nod over Cleveland, but I'd also note that Golden State's squad is slightly deeper.
   1986. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: December 14, 2017 at 12:30 PM (#5592579)
7141. don't ask 57i66135; he wants to hang them all Posted: June 23, 2017 at 03:29 PM (#5481843)
i think there's a good chance that simmons comes out of the gates with a 20 PER. he's has a great skillset/physical profile, he's had a year to adjust to the NBA lifestyle and focus on the mental/preparation aspect of the sport and he'll be 21 years old. would anyone be able to tell if his jumpshot is rusty?

fultz has a much bigger adjustment (he's younger, less physically talented, coming straight out of college, played on a losing team, has to adjust to the NBA 3P line), but simmons and embiid should hit the ground running.

7192. don't ask 57i66135; he wants to hang them all Posted: June 25, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5482413)
YMMV, but i think simmons' rookie year will look a lot like blake griffin's. simmons should have fewer rebounds and points, but more assists. 55 TS%, 20 PER, +2 BPM, 25% usage.

7193. don't ask 57i66135; he wants to hang them all Posted: June 25, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5482416)
there are 5 big questions for the sixers this year:
1: can embiid stay healthy and continue to improve?
2: can simmons play at a top 25 level?
3: can saric recapture his euroleague efficiency?
4: can fultz surpass the lin/teague/beverley tier of PGs?
5: can any of okafor/holmes/luwawu/mcconnell/korkmaz/anderson/stauskas take a step forward?


if 1 of those questions is answered positively, the sixers will be in playoff contention.
2: they should make the playoffs comfortably.
3: ECF contender
4 or 5: cleveland will have immediate problems.
   1987. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: December 14, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5592678)
The LeBrons have had very real matchup advantages against the Thunder that make me confident about their chance of beating them, just as the Thunder had very real matchup advantages against the Spurs that made me confident about the Thunder's chances against them (and reduce the chance for the LeBrons to have to face GSW and SAS).

That's a good point, matchups certainly factor in. If we assumed that the regular season records of those 5 teams (LeBrons, SA, GS, OKC, LAC) are random, and the LeBrons would typically beat OKC and LAC but lose to SA and GS, what are the odds that the LeBrons could reach the WCF without playing SA or GS? The really tricky wrinkle is what happens when the LeBrons get the #1 seed, as that would require figuring out who would win each of the other matchups. Maybe OKC>SA, and the rest are 50/50? I'm tempted to add GS>LAC, though the Clippers beat the Warriors in 2014.

Is 7 straight in the East as impressive as 7 straight in the West would be? Of course not. And if Golden State does that I'll certainly give them the heavy historical nod over Cleveland

My issue is that these aren't even remotely comparable. It's not like the league has 5 really good teams a year, and 3 of them are in the West compared to 2 in the East. At least over the past handful of seasons, 80% or more of the top teams tend to be in the West. To illustrate, the Clippers are 3-6 in playoff series over the past 6 years while the LeBrons are 18-0 in the East. Yet I think the Clippers have beaten 2 teams better than anyone the LeBrons have played in the East during that time: the 2015 Spurs and the 2014 Warriors. Cleveland's 2015 win over the Hawks is the only one that comes close by SRS, though of course if you go by W-L record the Hawks were the best opponent.

Saying that the LeBrons have been the best team in the league because of the Finals streak is like saying that the Jason Kidd Nets were better than Steve Nash's teams over that period (2002-2007). The Nets made the Finals twice, while Nash never made the Finals, and the Nets had more playoff wins during that time. But based on the level of competition they effectively were playing in different leagues. The Nets were beating below-average to slightly above-average teams, while almost every playoff series Nash played was against a legitimate contender. Winning 8 playoff series in 6 years against that level of competition was way, way more impressive than making the Finals a couple times out of the East. That was considered the absolute height of the conference imbalance. The past 5 years have been almost exactly the same.

Here's a chart I've posted here before, showing league strength according to SRS over the years. The left side shows the conferences top-to-bottom. The right side only shows only the top 4 teams, which I consider a better measure of the difficulty of reaching the Finals. I'm no good with formatting, though I remember last time someone turned this into a much better visual. Sadly I can't seem to find it right now.

Top-to-Bottom    Top-
 
#1Conf SRSdiff #1Conf SRSdiff
1977 West 23.0 West 8.9
1978 West 15.9 West 4.2
1979 West 19.8 East 1.5
1980 East 4.7 West 1.8
1981 East 20.4 East 12.5
1982 East 13.2 East 5.6
1983 East 10.6 East 4.3
1984 East 10.7 East 9.9
1985 East 14.8 East 6.9
1986 East 17.6 East 12.3
1987 East 17.1 East 4.3
1988 East 27.8 East 4.1
1989 East 28.2 East 3.9
1990 West 26.8 West 9.5
1991 West 7.8 West 6.8
1992 East 5.1 East 0.4
1993 East 11.8 East 0.7
1994 West 6.7 West 3.9
1995 West 15.5 West 8.5
1996 East 3.2 West 1.0
1997 East 35.7 East 4.8
1998 East 43.2 West 0.9
1999 East 15.5 West 5.0
2000 West 22.6 West 15.4
2001 West 44.9 West 13.1
2002 West 30.5 West 17.1
2003 West 41.9 West 11.3
2004 West 54.1 West 11.4
2005 West 37.5 West 14.8
2006 West 14.3 West 8.3
2007 West 32.9 West 15.8
2008 West 33.2 West 1.6
2009 East 15.0 East 5.1
2010 West 14.7 East 1.2
2011 West 31.1 East 2.0
2012 West 29.5 West 0.3
2013 West 42.1 West 12.3
2014 West 61.4 West 15.6
2015 West 44.0 West 13.7
2016 West 11.2 West 16.0
2017 West 31.5 West 18.6 



   1988. PJ Martinez Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:13 PM (#5592700)
1986: Interesting that, so far, 2 of 5 are true, but the result is not, at the moment, "comfortably" making the playoffs (they're tied for the eighth spot), mostly because the East is not as bad as we expected.
   1989. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:16 PM (#5592705)
Saying that the LeBrons have been the best team in the league because of the Finals streak

Who thinks this?
   1990. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5592716)
Winning 8 playoff series in 6 years against that level of competition was way, way more impressive than making the Finals a couple times out of the East. That was considered the absolute height of the conference imbalance. The past 5 years have been almost exactly the same.

I have no beef with any of this, I'm totally on your side on the conference imbalance issue. I've even advocated for realignment, numerous times.

My initial post on this was on how impressive LeBron's streak has been. And I think your post would be especially instructive were we ranking the numerous 7 year NBA Finals streaks of modern NBA players post 1970. We are not doing that, however, because no one else has done this before! (Well, MJ likely would have done it if he hadn't retired for 2 years, but A. he did retire and B. that was literally the genesis of this conversation, MJ and LeBron and their career accomplishments.) During the previous extremely imbalanced era that you're citing, 2000-2007, we had 6 different East representatives in 8 years.
   1991. NJ in NY (Now with Toddler!) Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:38 PM (#5592726)
Agree with [1990] and would also add that actual impressiveness of the streak is that (based on player anecdotes and sports science fatigue research) those extra miles matter a great deal, regardless of quality of competition, so it's hugely impressive that he has done this year after year.
   1992. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: December 14, 2017 at 02:55 PM (#5592751)
Who thinks this?

I probably misinterpreted what you were saying when you mentioned the "historical nod." I thought you were saying that the LeBrons should be recognized as the best "team" of this era based on all the Finals appearances, but maybe you just meant it's the coolest factoid. Must've triggered in my brain the arguments from all those Lakers versus Celtics 80s debates in this thread.
   1993. jmurph Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:00 PM (#5592757)
I probably misinterpreted what you were saying when you mentioned the "historical nod." I thought you were saying that the LeBrons should be recognized as the best "team" of this era based on all the Finals appearances, but maybe you just meant it's the coolest factoid.

Ah okay, yeah I definitely do not think that at all. What I meant was that if we had LeBron's 7 year streak on one hand, and then Golden State ripped off a 7 year streak on the other hand, in comparison, Golden State's would be much more impressive given the competition (and thus I would give that streak the "historical nod"). With the caveat that Golden State's roster is obviously much better than LeBron has had in most years.
   1994. smileyy Posted: December 14, 2017 at 03:03 PM (#5592762)
Reaching back a few posts, I want to agree that the league's style of play is sooo much better that it was in the "dump it into the post" era and all the eras before that. This is an NBA golden age, IMO.
   1995. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:25 PM (#5592828)
This ####### Bulls team.
   1996. JC in DC Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:48 PM (#5592844)
They're pulling you back in, huh?

Re the "golden age": no surprise, but I disagree. I went and watched about 5 minutes of that \"####\" game Davo linked. I don't know. There's a lot of incredible talent on that court, and some great basketball. You have literally a historically great rim protector, a historically great PG, Kemp, Schrempf, and lots of other talent all over the court. The game is intense, the hand-checking spectacular, the mid-range jumper ..., well, you have the mid-range jumper. I love that stuff.

[also, in comparing ages etc, wouldn't we have to discuss the physicality of the game? Again, just going by the game Davo linked, it's incredibly physical: guys protecting the rim not just with the block, but sheer physicality. Michael Cage whacks Mutombo on the head. That stuff was pretty common, and no flagrant review. Finally, a Bryant Stith sighiting!]
   1997. . . . . . . Posted: December 14, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5592851)
An interesting question is whether LeBron should get credit for his ability to shape the teams around him. I.e. how much credit does he get for clearing out the East b/c players and/or teams, rightly or wrongly, didn't want to compete with Lebron.

I think its much more likely Durant comes east, for example, if LeBron isn't in the east. And at least the Celtics, maybe others, try to be stronger if there isn't the perception that the best way to win in the East is to hoard assets that turn into on-court value once LeBron is in his decline phase. Certainly, changes in FA signings and team strategy resulting from F.o.LBJ has increased the likelihood of the Lebrons winning in some of the last 7 years.
   1998. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:03 PM (#5592869)
The game is way better now, but I think it's mainly the bottom 25-50% of the league back then that just isn't nearly athletic enough to hang in today's game. The shooting is way better, too, of course, but basketall is a relatively young game with only recent motivations on becoming good at that (generally around the advent of the 3 point shot).

I don't love the 3 pointer in theory, but it does create a lot of natural spacing which is good for the product.

Regarding LeBron's streak, I think I'm close to Dandy's take on it. His run with the Heat is real, and that team was terrifying. But they were probably "only" roughly as good as OKC and the Spurs during that era. Now OKC had some tough breaks in the playoffs with health and Boston was a really tough playoff team, and Dwight Howard was a top 3 player for a couple of years there, so I doubt they make the Finals all 4 years but I think something like 2 appearances and wins each time sounds about right. 2 may sound low there, but you're saying at best it's 2 Miami, then 1 Spurs, and 1 OKC/Dallas shooting out of their ####### mind/Clippers/everyone else.

The Cleveland teams, I mean, I'll give them 1 appearance. LeBron and Irving in the playoffs are a handful. The problem isn't that Cleveland couldn't beat those teams, it's that in the West you have to win a toss-up series or two every playoff run into the Finals (except for recent Golden State - and even then, it's probably really mainly last year, and even then it's probably heavily influenced by the Kawhi injury). Getting through the West is a gauntlet, and has been basically since the Duncan/Shaq+Kobe/Dirk era started.

As for big guys... I agree the league favors smaller players now and all that. But, the late-80s to mid-90s era had some generational talents. Maybe Mourning and some of those guys are diminished a bit in today's game. But Hakeem and Robinson? They'd be kicking ass and taking names, just the same. Both were hyper athletic and if anything could fit better in today's game than that game. They could switch almost everything, space the court a bit, #### they'd both be Dwight Howard with a post up game and a jump shot. Young Shaq would be fine, older Shaq would suck at defense but still be a handful in the post. You can do more creative things now with help but he'd still be one of the top players in the NBA. The younger version of Ewing would be fine, too.

I think there's a clear generational thing that's happening with the style, but sometime it's also just a product of random talent that develops. If LeBron was 4 inches taller, he'd be posting up and ####### killing people on the post.
   1999. smileyy Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:17 PM (#5592884)
An interesting question is whether LeBron should get credit for his ability to shape the teams around him. I.e. how much credit does he get for clearing out the East b/c players and/or teams, rightly or wrongly, didn't want to compete with Lebron.


If LeBron is driving players out of the East (which is a novel insight/hypothesis), then that's some really WOW stuff.
   2000. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: December 14, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5592896)
They're pulling you back in, huh?

I wouldn't say that, though this is probably pumping Mirotic's trade value some, which is fine by me (long term, I don't think you can play him and Markkanen together). It's not like they're beating *good* teams (sorry, Jazz fans, not sorry, JC). Like I said before, they're a much more interesting type of bad than the post-dynasty tank.
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