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The absence of basketball creates a vacuum that can easily be filled with the hypothetical. Could the 73-win Warriors have stopped the 72-win Bulls? Who would you take in a Jordan vs. Kobe vs. LeBron in a round-robin one-on-one tournament? Who would win the NBA’s major awards if the season ended today? And who would you trust with the ball to for a last-second game-winning shot right now?
Using Basketball-Reference’s shot finder, we can isolate down to shots to tie or take the lead, in the fourth quarter or overtime that occurred during the final 24 seconds of play (theoretically a final possession scenario). He has just a two-season sample, but it’s hard to find a more impressive track record than that of Trae Young.
In his rookie season, he was 6-of-9 on qualifying shots, including 1-of-2 on 3-pointers, for an effective field goal percentage of 72.2. Young was just 2-of-7 in the same scenario during this interrupted 2019-20 season but that still gives him an effective field goal percentage of 53.1 on game-tying or game-winning shots. Young has spent much of his brief career living in the shadow of outsized Stephen Curry comparisons. In the interests of breathless hyperbole, I’ll throw out that Curry was 0-of-3 on final-possession, game-winning or game-tying shot attempts across his first two seasons.
At the other end of the spectrum from Young is the unfortunate Kemba Walker. In his first season with the Celtics, Walker had gone 0-for-3 on such shots. That follows the 2018-19 season where he was 0-of-13. Which was only a slight regression from 2017-18, where he made just 2-of-13. Which was a slight improvement on 2016-17, where he went 0-of-7. If you’re keeping that’s 2-of-36 for Walker over the past five seasons.
So if you’re mulling it over in isolation today — you’re coaching a collection of current NBA stars against an invading roster of hostile inter-dimensional hoopers. You get one shot to save the galaxy, you politely invite Kemba Walker to watch as Trae Young does his best to save us all.
Yaron Weitzman’s new book, Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports, is a portrait of Sam Hinkie and the plan that carried him to NBA infamy. Paul Centopani talked with Weitzman about the book and how Hinkie might have approached the current quandaries of the 76ers.
De’Andre Hunter was supposed to be an NBA-ready floor-spacer and versatile defender. In the first of our rookie review series at Nylon Calculus, I looked at whether he delivered on that promise for the Atlanta Hawks this season.
Every NBA team has had their present disrupted and their future warped by the suspended season. Our own Gerald Bourguet broke down the implications for each and every team.
The coronavirus has continued its spread through NBA organizations. Yesterday, reports broke that a Nugget, two Lakers and three members of the 76ers organization had tested positive. The identities of those individuals are not being reported at this time. Later, Marcus Smart announced on Twitter that he had tested positive, just hours after running an ingenious Twitter contest with an autographed roll of toilet paper as the grand prize.