Looking back, D’Antoni wishes there had been more math in Phoenix. “I’ve told Steve (Nash) a thousand times—we didn’t go far enough with our approach because we didn’t have analytics,” D’Antoni says. “Everybody was killing us about how we were playing. Too many threes, they said. Live by the 3, die by the 3, blah blah blah. If I hear that one more time, I’m going to throw up.”
Out there with the early second quarter bench unit that saw him play with blinders on during the team’s March struggles, he was looking to pass coming off his initial actions right away. Even though this was a turnover, it’s the exact kind of play he needs to be making to establish that everyone on this team needs to be looking to move the ball. It’s no surprise that Tatum has gone from drawing two or three fouls a game a few weeks ago to at least five a night on the team’s recent winning stretch. He’s also taking 2.7 more catch-and-shoots per game in April, shooting a whopping 18.2 percentage points better than in the aforementioned March period, per Second Spectrum. He’s dialing it up in the most high-value looks in the game and, shockingly, it’s working.
While the New Orleans Pelicans are battling for their playoff lives, sitting fifth among the six teams battling for the Western Conference play-in spots, in one very important long-term sense, they can already consider this season a success. We’ve written in the past about the absurdity of Zion Williamson’s ability to get to the basket at a rate nearly 50 percent higher than anyone in recent league history, but for a graphical refresher… To put the size of the gap between Williamson (20.1 FGA/100 from 5 feet and in) and Montrezl Harrell (second at 14.1/100) in perspective, among the 382 players with at least 1,000 such attempts since 2004-05, the difference between first and second is as large as the space between Harrell in second and Andrew Wiggins in 142nd!
Under normal circumstances, such history would make me a little worried about the Lakers, who are 3-10 against teams on a 50-plus-win pace. But assuming LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy a month from now, these Lakers seem poised to be a team that confounds future playoff predictions based on regular-season performances. The other item of note is that even though Utah has been consistently great regardless of opponent tier, its +3.7/100 Net Rating against top-tier opposition is the lowest “best” mark since the 2012-13 Knicks led the league that season at +1.8/100, and would be only the third time since 2004-05 that no team played at least +4.0/100 against top-tier opposition. I think this is reflective and indicative of what is shaping up to be one of the most wide-open championship runs in recent history.
Chase Hughes: Farthest average shot distance this season among qualified players: Davis Bertans (WAS) 24.6 ft Garrison Mathews (WAS) 22.9 ft Duncan Robinson (MIA) 22.8 ft Wayne Ellington (DET) 22.1 ft Mychal Mulder (GSW) 22.0 ft
Rob Schaefer: Bulls, before –> after trade deadline: Post-Ups per game: 6.3 (21st) –> 18.8 (1st). Post-Up Points per game: 3.7 (21st) –> 12.0 (1st). Post-Up Ast Rate: 7% (18th) –> 16% (3rd). Post-Up Tov Rate: 7.4% (22nd) –> 3.2% (5th)