Don’t sleep on the Grizzlies and Hawks, or what we can learn by focusing on teams’ playoff rotations

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As the playoffs approach, teams’ regular-season statistics will inevitably be used to compare teams. Occasionally, these numbers will be filtered in some way, but for the most part, full-year statistics will be used.

But what difference does it make now how the Grizzlies played with Rudy Gay, how the Lakers played with Kobe Bryant or how the Heat played with Juwan Howard?

Those players won’t be in their teams’ playoff rotations, so the minutes they played cloud assessments of their teams.

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

But here are a few conclusions I could draw:

  • Every team’s net rating  improved with this adjustment, which makes sense, considering this removes the, presumably, lesser play of end-of-bench players.
  • The Hawks, whose net rating increased by 6.8, improved most.
  • The Bulls, whose net rating increased by 0.3, improved least.
  • The Thunder had the best regular-season net rating (+9.8), but that would tie for fifth after the adjustment.
  • The Grizzlies were the only lower-seeded team to pass their first-round opponent after the adjustment, and Memphis would rank ahead of the Thunder (or Rockets) in a second-round series, too.
  • The Lakers’ numbers are probably pretty unreliable, because with Kobe out, the adjusted number gives more weight to their backups than their remaining starters (who didn’t play much without Kobe).

Here’s how the adjustment affected each team’s offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating. Within each conference, teams are ordered by adjusted net rating.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No. 1 Miami Heat

Offensive rating: 113.2 to 114.8

Defensive rating: 104.5 to 103.9

Net rating: +8.7 to +10.9

No. 2 New York Knicks

Offensive rating: 111.4 to 116.5

Defensive rating: 106.8 to 106.0

Net rating: +4.6 to +10.5

No. 3 Indiana Pacers

Offensive rating: 104.6 to 107.5

Defensive rating: 100.3 to 100.0

Net rating: +4.3 to +7.5

No. 6 Atlanta Hawks

Offensive rating: 105.2 to 107.7

Defensive rating: 106.2 to 101.9

Net rating: –1.0 to +5.8

No. 4 Brooklyn Nets

Offensive rating: 108.6 to 110.2

Defensive rating: 106.7 to 105.7

Net rating: +1.9 to +4.5

No. 7 Boston Celtics

Offensive rating: 103.7 to 106.3

Defensive rating: 103.9 to 104.8

Net rating: –0.2 to +1.5

No. 5 Chicago Bulls

Offensive rating: 104.1 to 104.5

Defensive rating: 103.6 to 103.7

Net rating: +0.5 to +0.8

No. 8 Milwaukee Bucks

Offensive rating: 104.2 to 106.5

Defensive rating: 107.0 to 107.8

Net rating: –2.8 to –1.3

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs

Offensive rating: 108.5 to 108.6

Defensive rating: 101.8 to 97.0

Net rating: +6.7 to +11.6

No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies

Offensive rating: 105.3 to 108.9

Defensive rating: 100.6 to 98.4

Net rating: +4.7 to +10.5

No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder

Offensive rating: 112.3 to 113.7

Defensive rating: 102.5 to 103.5

Net rating: +9.8 to +10.2

No 4. Los Angeles Clippers

Offensive rating: 111.2 to 115.4

Defensive rating: 104.1 to 105.6

Net rating: to +7.1 to +9.8

No. 8 Houston Rockets

Offensive rating: 110.4 to 112.8

Defensive rating: 106.9 to 104.6

Net rating: +3.5 to +8.2

No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Offensive rating: 111.0 to 112.0

Defensive rating: 105.7 to 106.1

Net rating: +5.3 to +5.9

No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers

Offensive rating: 108.5 to 104.7

Defensive rating: 107.2 to 99.8

Net rating: +1.3 to +4.9

No. 6 Golden State Warriors

Offensive rating: 106.5 to 110.1

Defensive rating: 105.6 to 106.8

Net rating: +0.9 to +3.3

Steve Kerr on Mike D’Antoni as Coach of the Year, “He’s earned it.”

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There are some strong candidates for NBA Coach of the Year this season. Brad Stevens has built up Boston over the past couple seasons, and they are now the top seed in the East. The Wizards are having their best season in a long time, and the players there credit new coach Scott Brooks. Quin Snyder has done a fantastic job building a culture and strong team in Utah. Eric Spoelstra didn’t allow the Heat to let go of the rope in the East when they were 11-30, and now they are on the cusp of making the playoffs. Gregg Popovich needs to be in the running every year because he is the best coach in the game.

However, Houston’s Mike D’Antoni is probably going to win the award. Golden State’s Steve Kerr – who won the award last year — is good with that, here is his quote via ESPN from after the Warriors beat the Rockets Tuesday night.

“I think the fit with the roster and Mike’s philosophy has been perfect,” Kerr said Tuesday night. “What he’s so good at is really giving his players confidence and belief. They’re obviously having an amazing year. My guess is that he’ll get the trophy. He’s earned it.”

Rockets GM Daryl Morey deserves a lot of credit for how good Houston has been. Unlike the front offices in New York and Los Angeles, when Morey brought D’Antoni in he went out and got role players who fit with the coach’s style of play. If you’re hiring D’Antoni, you’re doing it to play up tempo and take threes, and he needs the right roster to win that way. Morey gave him that.

Still, D’Antoni is the frontrunner for reasons beyond he’s the coach of the team that most exceeded expectations this season. He truly trusted James Harden in the point guard role and helped the beard elevate his game to MVP levels. He got the role players to buy in. He also has the Rockets playing decent — middle of the NBA pack — defense, which is better than many people expected (at times this season the Rockets have played actual good defense, they just don’t sustain it).

Kerr is right, D’Antoni deserves it.

 

 

Lamar Odom regrets affairs, says cocaine helped end career

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lamar Odom says he’s “a walking miracle” after being found unconscious with cocaine in his system in a Nevada brothel in 2015.

Odom tells US Weekly he hid his cocaine use from ex-wife Khloe Kardashian for a while, but she found out about two years before their 2013 split. He also says that he regrets “having multiple affairs with different women” while married to Kardashian.

Kardashian filed for divorce in 2013 but delayed it after the incident at the brothel. He says Kardashian helped him regain his memory following the episode. Their divorce was finalized in December.

Odom blames cocaine for helping end his NBA career. He says “drugs killed my drive to want to train and be in shape.”

Odom says he’s sober now after finishing a rehab stint in January.

Here is some of the interview, however warning the language is not safe for work.

Warriors say Kevin Durant doing non-contact drills, could return before end of season

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Kevin Durant has been working out on the court before the last couple of Warriors road games, and people watching have taken note — he was moving well, shooting, and generally looking healthy for a guy coming off a grade 2 MCL sprain and a bone bruise.

Reports were out that Durant was on target to return before the end of the season.

Wednesday the Warriors confirmed that.

Teams are vague, realistically what is that timeline?

Durant likely would be on a minutes restriction for those game, but just getting to shake the rust off and work on his conditioning in a real game would help Golden State heading into the playoffs.

Not that they need much help, having won eight in a row. The Warriors have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference heading into the game between the two Wednesday night.

Check out Lakers’ stretch of hitting 15 straight shots to end third quarter (VIDEO)

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The Lakers lost to the Wizards because they are young, inconsistent, and defend like traffic cones at times.

But that young Lakers core also has its moments.

Los Angeles strung together 15 straight made buckets to end the third quarter Tuesday night. Some of it was flukey, like Corey Brewer driving and finishing contested layups like he’s Kyrie Irving, but there were things Lakers fans should want to see such as D'Angelo Russell draining threes, Jordan Clarkson working hard off the ball and his teammates finding him, and Julius Randle just attacking.

After this run the Lakers led by 13 going into the fourth, but lost the game.