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A note from the editor:
For months, I was hanging on to my perspective of the proverbial 2019-20 Thunder glass: half empty. No matter how many clutch (fluky?) wins mounted. No matter how many sips from the fountain of youth Chris Paul took. No matter how many of Shai’s scoop shots skimmed glass and then net. The Thunder were Not That Good, and believing otherwise was Bad Analysis.
True believers eventually put me to shame. They ignored the modest SRS and NRTG data, Paul’s age and health track record (Gallinari’s as well, for that matter), and how much of an anomaly Dennis Schröder’s efficiency happened to be. I wanted more picks; they wanted more wins. I thought the latter would come at the expense of the former, via an atypically short-sided trade from Sam Presti. We were both right: the Thunder turned out to be good enough to jeopardize their top-20 pick without spending assets to upgrade the roster.
As the wins have piled up, the data has followed. This team could snag home court advantage, and will be about as likely to advance in the playoffs as the last few disappointing rosters were. There’s no shame in rooting for what is potentially Paul’s twilight, Steven Adams’ peak, and Gallinari’s one-and-only season in OKC to come together in relative glory. We can enjoy what’s in front of us: an overachieving team which, no matter how high they climb in playoff seeding, fans expect to be a formidable, fun underdog in the postseason.
The Bucks–a team with truly great expectations–spanked OKC on Friday while DT staff and friends half-watched from our first live event, drinks in hand. But it didn’t seem too draining on anyone’s enthusiasm. They were more than half full.
– Cray Allred
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