Even though the dynamics that make up NBA teams are completely unique based on players, coaches, and the team’s overall season experience, it’s helpful to be able to compare current NBA teams to those past. The ultimate goal, of course, is to determine a team’s probable success (or lack thereof), and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has found the closest comparison for each of the 16 playoff teams.
Pelton uses each team’s offensive and defensive rating — the amount of points scored and allowed on a per possession, rather than per minute, basis — to determine the most specific matches for each of this year’s playoff squads based on the last 14 years of data.
For what it’s worth, the Utah Jazz were the only team for which the closest comparison was the winner of an NBA title (the 2006 Miami Heat). That’s not to say that the Jazz are statistically the best team in the playoffs, but rather that every other playoff team this year compared more closely (in terms of ORtg and DRtg) to a team that came up short.
A few other interesting comparisons:
- This year’s Celtics match up with the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers, the Iverson-led team that went all the way to the NBA Finals. The comparison is actually a pretty fair one; despite some emphasis on each team’s ability to produce on offense, defense is going to determine Boston’s fate just as it did Philadelphia’s. Interestingly enough, the Lakers were paired with exactly the same Sixers team.
- Pelton, regarding the Charlotte Bobcats: “Six of then 10 teams most similar to Charlotte won a playoff series, though just one of them advanced beyond that.”
- Even though the Orlando Magic compare best with the 2001 Spurs, a team that lost in the conference finals to the dynastic Lakers, they still boast the most impressive statistical balance among any team in the league. The Magic currently rank 1st in the NBA in offensive rating and 2nd in defensive rating.
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.