Oct 31 2014

The 2014-2015 NBA Lightweight Report

Roll out the red and seat me at the throne, prohibition rules so hold the patron. The Networks-United brings you back in the zone with the NBA Lightweight Report, basketball internationally notorious like the FIBA world court!

Yeah. I’m late on the release, as the theme alludes – I had to get some sponsors! But #TheNU always comes through, and I came through in a big way last season, predicting an NBA Finals of San Antonio Spurs over Miami Heat in last year’s NBA Lightweight Report. I had multiple opportunities all season to change that up, asking whether or not the Spurs could win the title given The Formula that I established for champion basketball earlier in the year. Now, when the 2014 NBA Finals started, I thought it would be a seven-game series won by San Antonio, so I didn’t nail it all. But San Antonio beat Miami, just as the Lightweight Report prescribed. In addition to my summer at the Drew League, I hooked up another version of the Offseason Maintenance Report and the Summer Moves articles for the East and West. All of that work leads into this season’s outlook.


The 2014-2015 NBA Lightweight Report, co-sponsored by the new NBA TV deal, the “Coming Home” movement, and Diddy’s Dirty Money!

Because I’m releasing this later than purists would deem acceptable (RE: avoiding the traffic of every other preview), I must remind the people that the NBA season is not like the NFL season:

NBA previewing does not require as much science.  The NFL schedule is a significant variable in a team’s success.  Everyone plays everyone in the NBA, so the best teams win.  Alas, there’s the caveat with the “team” parts of things.  In the NFL, teams (and their coaching staffs) are pretty much set for the season.  In the NBA, things change constantly:  Stars get traded, injuries and transactions can completely remake a team, and coaches and even general managers can lose their job with as little as a bad 16-game streak.  Nobody is safe in the NBA!

Because I’m behind, I wanted to provide an extra for this year’s release. I went through every one of the NBA’s 25 weeks of the regular season (yes, there are 25 weeks of the season), and #TheNU has picked all-inclusive Game of the Weeks, so gander here:

  1. Tues, Oct 28: Dallas at San Antonio (Banner night)
  2. Wed, Nov 5: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State (First regular season meeting since 2014 First Round Clippers win)
  3. Wed, Nov 12: Indiana at Miami (Rematch of Eastern Conference Finals, without George/James)
  4. Wed, Nov 19: San Antonio at Cleveland (LeBron meets the champs)
  5. Wed, Nov 26: Washington at Cleveland (Best backcourt debate: Wall/Beal [wrist] vs. Irving/Waiters)
  6. Fri, Dec 5: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston (Five seasons ago, this was the NBA Finals matchup)
  7. Thu, Dec 11: Cleveland at Oklahoma City (James/Irving vs. Durant [foot]/Westbrook)
  8. Wed, Dec 17: Brooklyn at Toronto (NBA’s best 7-game series from 2014 playoffs, GM Ujiri: f*** Brooklyn)
  9. Thu, Dec 25: Cleveland at Miami (LeBron takes his talents to South Beach)
  10. Sat, Jan 3: Miami at Houston (Bosh rejected Houston to return to Heat)
  11. Fri, Jan 9: Minnesota at Milwaukee (Wiggins vs. Parker: Top two picks of 2014 Draft)
  12. Fri, Jan 16: Cleveland at Los Angeles Clippers (Power forward matchup: Love vs. Griffin)
  13. Sun, Jan 25: Oklahoma City at Cleveland (Last three MVPs: Durant [foot] vs. James)
  14. Thu, Jan 29: Chicago at Los Angeles Lakers (Pau Gasol returns)
  15. Sun, Feb 8: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland (Kobe vs. LeBron)
  16. Thu, Feb 12: Cleveland at Chicago (Last game before NBA All-Star Break)
  17. Thu, Feb 19: San Antonio at Los Angeles Clippers (NBA returns to action after week off)
  18. Fri, Feb 27: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis (These teams hate each other: Griffin vs. Randolph)
  19. Thu, Mar 5: Oklahoma City at Chicago (Noah thinks Perkins is angry dude + Last two MVPs not named LeBron)
  20. Thu, Mar 12: New York at Los Angeles Lakers (Carmelo vs. Kobe + Derek Fisher returns as Knicks head coach)
  21. Mon, Mar 16: Portland at Washington (Point guards: Lillard vs. Wall)
  22. Fri, Mar 27: Miami at Atlanta (Luol Deng scouting report, potential playoff push)
  23. Fri, Apr 3: Charlotte at Indiana (Lance Stephenson 2nd game back, potential playoff push)
  24. Tue, Apr 7: San Antonio at Oklahoma City (2014 Western Conference Finalist, potential West playoff top seeds)
  25. Wed, Apr 15: Indiana at Memphis (Last day of the season, may be last game effecting playoff spots, last East vs West game until 2015 NBA Finals)

Finally, I’ll throw in the explainer for the semi-subjective grades I’ve cobbled together:

For offense, I use “perimeter offense”, “interior offense”, and “control”:

  • Perimeter offense is heavily influenced by perimeter personnel’s ability to drive, draw fouls, and score, as well as the depth and effectiveness of all distance shooters.
  • Interior offense is reserved for post personnel scoring and offensive rebounding.
  • Control refers to the ability of a team’s collective passing and ability to limit turnovers, not limited to just point guard play.

For defense, I use “pressure”, “interior defense”, and “perimeter defense”.

  • Pressure is the team’s ability to force steals and other turnovers.
  • Interior defense refers to the ability of a team’s ability to not only block shots and rebound, but to contain effective bigs before the shot while protecting the rim without fouling.
  • Perimeter defense refers to the ability of a team to defend shooters and penetrators consistently, not simply in the act of gambling.

As introduced in last year’s Lightweight Report: “basketball special teams”, highly influenced by football special teams. I feel it is a good way to evaluate free throw shooting, which is NOT the ability to draw fouls but simply the ability to make free throws (kicking game), fast break (return units), transition defense (coverage), pace (tempo), and depth (personnel). Just like special teams is a factor in football, but not to the level of the offense and defense, special teams in basketball is a factor even though it is not as critical as half-court effectiveness on both ends. I don’t grade coaching and intangibles, but they figure into any head-to-head evaluation.

Devin Hester should be joining Deion Sanders in the Hall of Fame … and then they would both run clinics on fastbreak offense!

Remember – a few days of the NBA season starting shouldn’t drastically change anything, but the course of the NBA season will shake some teams up. This is the standard, while blows will be assessed over the course of the season – and then the NBA Bandwagon Report will reset the situation come playoff time. Check the standings for each team’s “lightweight report” … they’ll be more about all of October – and keep the tabs on @LawMurrayTheNU throughout the season.

Welcome back, Charlotte Hornets! And welcome back, Kobe Bryant!

*Check out the detailed rotation log for the EASTERN CONFERENCE, updated up until final cuts deadline*


Toronto (3rd East), Boston (8th East), Brooklyn (10th East), New York (11th East), Philadelphia (15th East)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 8.49.24 PMCentral

Cleveland (1st East), Chicago (2nd East), Detroit (9th East), Milwaukee (13th East), Indiana (14th East)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 8.52.49 PMSoutheast

Washington (4th East), Atlanta (5th East), Charlotte (6th East), Miami (7th East), Orlando (12th East)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 8.55.29 PMEast Quarters

Cleveland over Boston + Chicago over Miami + Toronto over Charlotte + Washington over Atlanta

East Semis

Cleveland over Washington + Chicago over Toronto

East Finals

Chicago over Cleveland

*Check out the detailed rotation log for the WESTERN CONFERENCE, updated up until final cuts deadline*


Portland (4th West), Oklahoma City (6th West), Denver (10th West), Minnesota (11th West), Utah (13th West)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.02.59 PMPacific

Los Angeles Clippers (1st West), Golden State (3rd West), Phoenix (5th West), Sacramento (14th West), Los Angeles Lakers (15th West)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.06.37 PMSouthwest

San Antonio (2nd West), New Orleans (7th West), Dallas (8th West), Memphis (9th West), Houston (12th West)

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 9.18.14 PMWest Quarters

Los Angeles Clippers over Dallas + San Antonio over New Orleans + Oklahoma City over Golden State + Portland over Phoenix

West Semis

Portland over Los Angeles Clippers + San Antonio over Oklahoma City

West Finals

San Antonio over Portland



LeBron James may be coming home, and Carmelo Anthony may be staying home, but Derrick Rose was “Already Home” … and Chicago could be ready to bring Larry back home for the first time since the 90s.


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