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'Hoop Atlas' Book Review: This Is What Happens When There's A Week In-Between Games

Thanks a lot NBA. A week in-between the final game conference series and the NBA Finals has resorted me to reading a book. An actual book. One with a hard cover and pages inside of it. And most importantly...

Pictures!

With nothing else really to talk about before tip-off tomorrow, I figure I'd do something way out of left field for what is typically expected on this website. That's right. A book review!

Kirk Goldsberry is a recurring guest on Pardon My Take and his first book Sprawlball was so freaking good in using data visualization to show how the game has changed for the worse. In Hoop Atlas, his focus is more on stories of players who've held the league up over time and how they did so. Like Atlas, these players helped mold the future of the game and often held everyone else up by finding innovative ways to get shit done. In a way it's pretty much Ayn Rand for basketball. 

But why would Goldsberry write a book on basketball objectivism when he thinks it's ruining the game? Although I don't recall him stating it, I think his point is that you can't blame the players. You have to blame the game. Perhaps when it really comes down to it this is all a psyop for more regulation. Well, you know what? I'm all in then. Fuck the basketball objectivists. We need more regulation! 

Kirk has suggested getting rid of the corner three. Like any respectable Halo player would say, "fuck the campers". I wonder if we could just institute a offensive 3-second rule for being outside the three-point arc unless you have the ball. I'm good with players like Bruce Bowen (more on him soon) never becoming any sort of an asset for a team. 

Whatever we do, we need variety in shot taking back. I mean look at this Michael Jordan vs James Harden shot chart summarizing where we were vs where we are in modern day?

I feel for kids who never got to experience the intrigue of where on the floor the next shot might come from. We've gone "FROM DOWNTOWN!" to "from yawntown". 

Couple crazy stats Kirk throws at us (many more worth reading the book for):

- The average layup attempt in the NBA is worth 1.23 points. The best spot and shoot three point shooters (Kyle Korver, and Tyrese Maxey in 2023) were worth OVER 1.5 points. That's insane. 

- Nikola Jokic made 53 our of 103 Somber Shuffle shots - a technique he designed out of lazziness. Advanced metrics predict a player should only make 32 percent of such shots. He made 51.5%

- Steph Curry made 400 swishes for three MORE from 2013-14 to 2022-23 than the next guy. 400. More. 

Speaking of Curry, his chapter goes deep into his training program that led him to develop into the monster he is - or at least was in his prime. It makes me think we're probably not terribly far away from every team having a Steph Curry. Give it a decade or two. You gotta believe kids out there are already starting it early. 

There was even a chapter for Bruce Bowen for his role in starting the corner three frenzy. Kirk mentioned Bowen played for the Rockford Lightning in the late 90s before going to the NBA. I grew up outside of Rockford and won a youth shooting contest for either YMCA or whatever Park District club and received a plaque at halftime of a game Bowen would have played in. So in a very tangential and narcisistic way, I might actually be at fault for the development of the corner three. It's certainly plausible that Bowen didn't care to hear the same ole halftime speech and instead stayed on the bench to watch a scrawny pasty 6th grader shyly grab a plague made of plaster wood for shooting some threes. Who's to say he didn't jot some notes down and revive his career that fateful night.

I am become death.

Side note: I got LUCKY on the last shot as it banked in when I didn't call glass. Please don't tell my 6th grade friends of this admission

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It remains to be seen if the NBA will make real changes. And to be clear, I'm not all doom and gloom like a lot of NBA haters. It really is a love/hate thing. I've enjoyed the hell out of the playoffs, but I just feel with all the talent the leauge has there's so much more the game could be. Will things turn around? Will we get the regulation changes that are needed?

Who is John Galt?

- @stathole