NBA Week 14 & 15 - where the thread title lasts longer than Bruce Brown's Pacers career

Who is your under-the-radar spirit animal?

  • Derrick White is alright, and a big forehead just means a bigger brain

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • Isaiah Hartenstein is the archetypal dark horse. And not just because he's surprisingly black.

    Votes: 5 50.0%
  • Dean Wade is the everyman hero we need right now

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I like it when a player sticks it to the Lakers, so Malik Beasley

    Votes: 3 30.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .

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May 23, 2012
Smoothie King Central
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Tottenham Hotspur, New Orleans Pels
Welcome to Week 14, where the corn fields of Indiana are suddenly a destination. If New Orleans ever joins them, I think we can officially say that end times are upon us.

These weekly threads are our safe space to give voice to our hopes, dreams and frustrations. On the plus side, it leaves us free to vent on whatever frustrates us, be it officiating, flopping, uniforms, wacky court designs, inane taunts, over-the-top celebrations, hold-me-back faux toughness, load management, opponent dodging, stat padding, MVP turf wars, LeBron's weekly whinge or the annoyingly excellent big market franchises like Boston, and er... Minnesota.

On the other hand it does leave us open to a little gentle mockery if we go too far. Not that this humble thread would ever partake in such a thing. Cough.

So on the subject of pluses and minuses in following the NBA, I thought it might be time to look at some of the heroes and villains for every NBA team this season to date. There will be no empty calorie counting stats here, thanks - we're all about winning on this forum.

Um... yeah. So anyway, enjoy this cursory and totally not superficial bullshit analysis of the league's plus and minus heroes for season 2023/24. To keep this somewhat digestible, this'll be a two-parter - Western Conference to come next week.


Boston Celtics

: The size of Derrick White's lead here is bigger than Jaylen Brown's contract. Has been exceptional on both sides of the ball, which is saying something for a team that ranks in top two both offensively and defensively. The C's are 11 points per 100 better when White's on court - a true outlier.

Zero: Not really fair for a career back-up whose team still wins handily overall when he's on court, but Boston's defence falls off when Luke Kornet is guarding the basket, compared to Pork or Big Al. Rumoured to be an area when the Celts are looking to upgrade.

Surprise: Small sample size, but Neemias Queta has given Boston's offence a shot in the arm when he plays. Prolific offensive rebounder.

Philadelphia 76ers

: As you would expect Embiid and Maxey lead the way here - the former on defence, the latter on offence - but Nic Batum (+8.6) is right there with them at age 35. Does all the little things well - shot selection, ball movement, turnover efficiency, rebounding and on and off ball defence. Whether using him as a small ball four will work in the playoffs is another question entirely, but for now it's a big win coming as a virtual throw-in in the Harden trade.

Zero: Again this can be harsh on a very good team, but Marcus Morris is kinda the anti-Batum. Capable of providing a get-out scoring threat, but not so fundamentally sound in the team-first areas. More drastically, Jaden Springer might have worn out his welcome in Philly at -17 points per 100 possessions.

Surprise: Paul Reed has actually done a pretty nice job spotting Embiid. Which is not to say that anyone will confuse him with Embiid anytime soon, but the Sixers don't drop off drastically when Embiid sits, as has sometime happened in seasons past.

New York Knicks

: OG Anunoby has made a blistering start to his Knicks career, posting a scarcely believable +23 points per 100 possessions over the first 10 games since the trade. For point of comparison, the man he replaced, RJ Barrett, had a -7.5 rating. New York give up a 1990s-like 100 points per 100 possessions when Anunoby is on court. Thibs likes this - Thibs likes this a lot. Early doors, but fair to say the fit looks very snug indeed.

Zero: Now the aforementioned Barrett is gone, we'll have to pick on what remains of the bench here. Josh Hart aside, the incumbent bench pieces - Grimes, McBride & Achiuwa - are all big net negatives at present. Hence the rumours that the Knicks are looking at making further trades. As expected, they've missed Quickley's impact here (+6.5).

Surprise: Many people liked Isaiah Hartenstein as a low-key free agent signing, and this is why. The true unsung hero on this team, his +11.3 rating would lead the team but for Anunoby's astronomical numbers. Has not just held the fort in Robinson's absence, but chiseled his name over the door.

Brooklyn Nets

: The Nets are one those teams where the numbers are skewed due to the evenness of the team - it means their reserves often beat up other benches, but they're not necessarily good enough to supplant the starters who naturally face - and struggle with - tougher opponents. That said, Day'Ron Sharpe's numbers are impressive, particularly at the defensive end where the Nets are 9 points per 100 possessions better off with him on the floor. Something to think about given Nic Claxton's impending free agency.

Zero: Guys like Cam Thomas are always an easy target here, the rule of thumb being that they give everything back at the defensive end that they add on the offensive side. The fact that the Nets are also better offensively when he sits is a touch alarming though. Overall he's -11.1, by far worst on the team.

Surprise: Again he may be a beneficiary of beating up on weaker opponents, but Lonnie Walker has had a positive impact when he plays, where his blistering three-point shooting has helped space a sometimes cramped floor. Problem is he hasn't played that often this season, so take with a pinch of salt.

Toronto Raptors

: See the Nets here - the reserves' positive numbers are probably partially inflated due to competing against inferior opposition. Take with a pinch of salt, but surprisingly the Raps perform best when Schroeder and Chris Boucher are on court. Given the current reboot, this likely means little in the big picture of things.

Zero: It's normal for rookies to fare badly here, so with the caveat that I'm picking on a soft target - at -12 per 100 possessions, it's fair to say that Gradey Dick is not ready for regular minutes yet.

Surprise: It's difficult to fathom that Scottie Barnes (-6.6) is near the bottom here, given his improved shooting, playmaking nous and defensive reputation. Make of it what you will, but the Raps are statistically better both offensively AND defensively when Barnes sits. Feels like an anomaly, but we'll see.


Derrick's +/- metrics are vastly impressive. His forehead is also impressive, but mainly just vast.


Milwaukee Bucks

: Would you believe that Giannis is Milwaukee's barometer at +9 per 100 possessions? In other news, water is wet.

Zero: Fair to say that the Bucks' bench in particular has struggled to adjust to a new coach. When it comes to youngsters like Marjon Beauchamp or Andre Jackson then a significant drop-off is to be expected. It's a bigger concern when vets like Connaughton, Payne and Crowder struggle to hang on to leads though.

Surprise: Khris Middleton hasn't always looked like his old self, but he's still very important to the Bucks, particularly offensively (+5). A bigger surprise has been Malik Beasley's bounce-back season. One might have suspected his volume perimeter shooting would come in handy on a Giannis-led team, but the Bucks have also surprisingly not fallen off defensively when he's on court. Which is not to say they've been great at that end, but average defence is something you'd take every time with Beasley.

Cleveland Cavaliers

: Mitchell (+9.4) continues to ball, but Max Strus (+10.5) is the real story here. In Miami his effectiveness often lived and died with his outside shot, but in Cleveland he has blossomed with secondary playmaking responsibilities. And his defence has been a boon for a team which ranks third in the league in that department.

Zero: Georges Niang giveth, and Georges Niang taketh away (-9.6 per 100), particularly at the defensive end.

Surprise: If not Strus, then every team needs a Dean Wade (+8.1). A really underrated defender (insert whitey joke here). There's a reason why the Cavs are currently on a seven game win streak, even without Garland and Mobley.

Indiana Pacers

: A bit like Philly or Milwaukee, no real surprises here - the Pacers tend to live or die with Haliburton (+9.8) and Turner (+8.0). Indy's offence craters without the league leader in assists, while let's just say Turner's rim protection sticky-tapes over a myriad of Pacer issues at the other end.

Zero: Again, young guys take a while to figure things out - Mathurin (-10.9) and Jalen Smith (-8.0) the biggest culprits here, despite superficially decent counting stats. Will be interesting to see how the Siakam trade affects Rick Carlisle's rotations as such.

Surprise: Many, including yours truly, had their doubts about Obi Toppen, but he at least fit in offensively (+3.4 at that end of the floor). Siakam's addition will mandate Toppin's return to the bench role for which is he probably best suited.

Chicago Bulls

: In what may or may not be a good sign for long-suffering Bulls fans, it's the youngsters that have fared best here - Pat Williams (+5.8) and Coby White (+4.8) leading the way. Decision time looms on an extension for Williams, but at least Chicago has White tied down on a reasonable rate.

Zero: It's become fashionable to beat up on DDR (-5.7) and LaVine (-5.2), but the numbers kinda speak for themselves here. The mediocre offensive results are not nearly enough to compensate for the defensive nous, or lack thereof. The Bulls have actually looked decent of late with LaVine out, but DeRozan is both older and soon to be out of contract. As for LaVine... yeah, that contract.

Surprise: The aforementioned White and Williams aside, the biggest surprise with the Bulls continues to be how horrid the offensive numbers continue to be with their big money vets. The Bulls rank a lousy 22nd at 113 points per 100 possessions with DeRozan (114), Vuc (113) and LaVine (112) doing little to enhance that area. When none of them are known for their defence, you get an idea of why the Bulls started the season 5-14.

Detroit Pistons

: When a team sits at 4-38, it's very difficult to find much of value in these numbers, let alone identify a 'hero'. Nonetheless, the Pistons are +10.1 when Isaiah Stewart is on the court. Given they're still overall -5.0 when he does play, that gives you an idea of how bad it gets for a 4-38 team. I guess you could say Detroit are 'less crap' when Stewart is out there.

Zero: The veterans' numbers - Harris (-3.6), Bogdanovic (-4.3) and Burks (-7.4) - aren't exactly pumping up their trade value. The bizarre fascination with James Wiseman (-6.3) may be one reason among many that Troy Weaver is soon out of a job.

Surprise: It's a surprise that Troy Weaver still has a job. If he trades Jaden Ivey (+6.0), as per some rumours, Pistons fans may riot. Again.


Nice shooting form, nicer beard, nicest stats. And no, this isn't Kevin Love.


Miami Heat

: Playoff Jimmy ain't shabby in the regular season either (+9.0)

Zero: Fair to say that neither the Thomas Bryant (-5.6) or Josh Richardson (-10.7) signings have really worked out. It's somewhat surprising that both Bam (-2.7) and Herro (-2.9) are both in the negative, but given the constant flux of the Heat's line-ups from night to night, it's probably of little concern.

Surprise: It may only be in short bursts nowadays, but Kevin Love (+7.7) has still got it.

Orlando Magic

Hero: Low sample size and quality of opposition caveats apply here but comeback kid Jonathan Isaac (+12.9) and ol' Aussie Joe Ingles (+9.9) fare really well for the Magic this season. Orlando has one of the better benches in the league.

Zero: Again, IMO the numbers are skewed due to injuries and make-shift starting line-ups, but Paolo Banchero's team-worst -11.9 is at least mildly surprising and of some concern. An incredibly low offensive rating (111.6) suggests he and the Magic need some more help at that end.

Surprise: Banchero aside, Goga Bitadze (+3.7) has been a pleasant min contract find for the Magic

Atlanta Hawks

: Bogdan Squared (+8.3) has a legitimate argument for 6MOTY. Meanwhile young Okungwu (+4.0) is fast making Clint Capela (-3.5) expendable.

Zero: Fair to say that the unholy triumvirate of Trae (-0.7), Murray (-2.9) and Hunter (-2.9) has been a defensive disaster. Hence, trade whispers abound.

Surprise: Saddiq Bey's numbers don't look anything special, but the Hawks seem to perform much better offensively (+8.4) with him on the court.

Charlotte Hornets

Let's just say that big Mark Williams (+15.2) has been a much, much bigger loss for the moribund Hornets than people probably realise.

Zero: Fair to say that in Williams's absence, Nick Richards (-5.1) has proven that back-up bigs are sometimes just that.

Surprise: It's probably not a good sign that a crocked, 33-year old, soon-to-be OOC Hayward (+6.3) is statistically your second most impactful player.

Washington Wizards

: The remaining fans. Them aside, Gafford (+2.7) and Avdija (+1.9) are somewhat rewarding the faith, albeit still outmatched as full-time starters.

Zero: LOL. Jordan Poole (-10.8, -14.1 overall on court) - that is all.

Surprise: Tyus Jones (-5.6) usually fares well in this metric, but on this dumpster fire he can probably be excused.


This defensive chemistry puts the 'Awks' in Hawks.

Coming Up

- Suns/Pacers and Rockets/Celtics probably the pick to start the week. Jokic might grab 30 boards against the pitiful Wizards.

Tuesday - Bit of a lacklustre assortment here, try Mavs/Celtics, Magic/Cavs, Suns/Bulls or Kings/Hawks

Wednesday - Nuggets at Pacers should be (blue and) gold. Meanwhile there are derbies in both LA and NY, while the former Jazz host the current Jazz.

Thursday - For some reason the NBA decided to feature all the dregs this day. Bucks/Cavs or Suns/Mavs easily the pick.

Friday - The Celtics renew hostilities with the Heat, while the Sixers visit the nu-Pacers. Meanwhile Joker pays a visit to MSG.

Saturday - Deja vu, with both Pacers/Suns and Bucks/Cavs tangling again. The Pels host the Thunder in a true eight-pointer.

Sunday - A lot here. MVP rematch between Nugs and Sixers, Boston welcome the Clips, the Bucks host the Pels and Kings visit Luka's Mavs.

Make this thread a destination guys, and enjoy your week.

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Clips being brought back down to earth by a benless Nets team.
Nets with an all-time collapse lol. Up 18 in the last, lose by 10 (including 22-0 run down the stretch)
Cavs have done a surprisingly good job of keeping their season afloat while dealing with injuries.

Wonder if they'll actually suffer a dip in form having to re-adjust to Garland and Mobley coming back.
Had a lot of home games vs bad teams which has helped + a week in France was good timing to soak up days without having to play games

Merrill has been a find, Porter has been fantastic for an undrafted rookie guard, Niang has been a flamethrower recently, Strus has been consistent contributor even though his shot is anything but consistent

Losing Mobley's defense has been offset by no longer playing two small guards + Mitchell actually playing defense this season giving cavs extra size all over the court (Allen is also underrated in DPOY every year). The current starting lineup with Mitchell at PG and Okoro + Wade just works somehow, gets the team off to big starts (22-2 vs bucks, 11-2 vs hawks etc)

Garland's offense has been offset by no longer playing two non shooting bigs + randomly finding elite bench shooting + Mitchell being much more willing to give the ball up and the ball movement + game speed being much faster

The last 15 games have raised more questions than answers

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Jaylen was taking the piss early but ended up with only his 3rd career triple double.
Interesting to see DT hasn't come in here complaining about how he is the worst human being alive for stat padding in garbage time to get it.

Homer Simpson Reaction GIF
Flat track bully, scared of good teams, stat pads against bad teams!

Holy s*** you are dumb lol. No ones ever said he’s scared of good teams in general. It’s always been him dodging good teams away from home, and the facts back that up.

2 HOME games vs Boston - Embiid plays
1 AWAY game vs Boston - Embiid misses

1 HOME game vs Cleveland - Embiid plays
AWAY games: N/A

1 HOME game vs Minnesota - Embiid plays
1 AWAY game vs Minnesota - Embiid misses

1 HOME game vs NY - Embiid plays
AWAY games : N/A

Not to mention 4 years in a row missing @ Denver games.
Doesn’t take a genius to see a pattern here.
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