Oct 26 2017

The 2017-2018 NBA Lightweight Report

For a 7th season, the NBA Lightweight Report returns to #TheNU! I’m no longer with ClipperBlog or NFL Media – I joined ESPN full time as an NBA associate editor based in Los Angeles earlier this year.

This is the part of the show where we cover the departments – newcomers, welcome:

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!

Now, I’d love to have gotten this out ten days earlier. But I’ve been working. So I’ll just drop my placeholders here in this space, knowing that I’ll be here to cover the league all season.

Here are this year’s five key dates to reassess where teams are at different points in the season, based on the date each team will have played their 16th, 32nd, 48th, 64th, and 82nd games:

• START (November 22)
• OLD YEAR (December 26)
• END  (April 11)

Here is the explainer for the semi-subjective grades that you will see below:

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.

A Lightweight Report trademark: “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.

This year, I’m including every team’s “rotation chart” to show how each team has changed from the end of last season up to the opening tip of each team’s season opener 1. Follow me @LawMurrayTheNU – it’ll be an eventful season:

Eastern Conference

2017-2018 Atlantic

Celtics- 1st Eastern

Raptors – 2nd Eastern


76ers – 5th Eastern

Nets – 12th Eastern

Knicks – 14th Eastern

Central 2017-2018

Cavaliers – 3rd Eastern

Pacers – 7th Eastern

Bucks – 8th Eastern

Pistons – 11th Eastern

Bulls – 15th Eastern

2017-2018 Southeast

Heat – 4th Eastern

Wizards – 6th Eastern

Hornets – 9th Eastern

Magic – 10th Eastern

Hawks – 13th Eastern

Western Conference

2017-2018 Northwest

Trail Blazers – 4th Western

Thunder – 5th Western

Jazz – 6th Western

Timberwolves – 7th Western

Nuggets – 9th Western

2017-2018 Pacific

Warriors – 1st Western

Clippers – 12th Western

Lakers – 13th Western

Suns – 14th Western

Kings – 15th Western

2017-2018 Southwest

Rockets – 2nd Western

Spurs – 3rd Western

Grizzlies – 8th Western

Mavericks – 10th Western

Pelicans – 11th Western

EAST -> (BOS over MIL, TOR over IND, CLE over WAS, MIA over PHI); (BOS over MIA, CLE over TOR); (CLE over BOS)

WEST -> (GS over MEM, HOU over MIN, SA over UTA, OKC over POR); (GS over OKC, HOU over SA); (GS over HOU)

  • DPOY – Utah C Rudy Gobert
  • MIP – Orlando PF Aaron Gordon
  • COY – Boston HC Brad Stevens
  • 6MOY – San Antonio PF Rudy Gay
  • ROY – Los Angeles PG Lonzo Ball
  • MVP – Milwaukee PF Giannis Antetokounmpo

WARRIORS sweep Cavaliers

Show 1 footnote

  1. In other words, injuries and transactions after the opening tip are not accounted for here.

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