The Whiteboard: Power ranking the most exciting 6 seconds in the NBA

Orlando Magic, The Whiteboard

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Six seconds is more than enough time for full dramatic arcs in NBA basketball. Here are the most exciting tiny stories, with exposition, action, resolution.

Basketball moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.

The average NBA possession this season lasts 14.3 seconds and each pair of teams crams an average of nearly 100 of those into every 48-minute game. And even within each possession, you can slice things thinner, removing meaningless transition time, the ball being brought slowly over halfcourt as offenses and defenses reset.

A lot can happen in a six-second chunk of NBA basketball. Here are three of the most exciting outcomes from the smallest building blocks of a basketball game.

3. Brook Lopez controlling the paint for the best defense in the NBA

The Milwaukee Bucks have the best defense in the league by a wide margin and a healthy Brook Lopez manning the middle has been one of the most significant variables. After appearing in just 13 games last season because of a back injury that required surgery, Lopez has appeared in all nine of the Bucks’ games so far (all wins), averaging a touch over 30 minutes per game.

Opponents are shooting just 50.7 percent on shots inside of six feet when Lopez is the nearest defender, a mark 7.8 percentage points lower than we would expect, given those players’ season-long field goal percentages at the rim. He’s not a quick-twitch leaper but watching him adjust to the actions unfolding in front of him and keep himself in the perfect position, even on multiple shot attempts, is pure bliss for lovers of fundamentally sound defense.

Here, in slightly more than six seconds, he tags the roll man, blocks a driving layup and then records to record a second block, all while making sure there is no clear passing angle to his man in the baseline dunker spot.

2. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander working in isolation

Gilgeous-Alexander has been on one this season, averaging 30.5 points per game on a 62.5 true shooting percentage, with the vast majority of his offense coming in self-creation scenarios. He’s shooting an absolutely absurd 61.6 percent on shots that have come after a touch time of at least six seconds, the highest in the league among the 20 players who average at least six such shots per game. To put his efficiency in further context, only five of the other 19 players in that group have even managed to break 50 percent.

As I mentioned while breaking down his historic drive stats last week, he’s quick, long and does have a tight, advanced handle. His combination of all three attributes has allowed him to use the right tool for the right job, extending, exploding or beating the defense with craft and handle as the situation demands.

In six seconds, you can watch him exert tremendous patience, finding the defensive matchup he wants, getting himself to the exact spot on the floor he wants and calmly draining the shot he seemed to picture in his head before the possession even began.

1. Bol Bol, coast-to-coast

Bol Bol has been a revelation for the Magic this season, in the first real regular NBA minutes of his career. The 7-foot-2 big man is averaging 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game while leading the league in field goal percentage. It’s easy to look at those numbers and just point to his height and wingspan but the most dramatic and exciting parts of the Bol Bol experience are when he gets to flash his skill, handle and mobility.

This season, he’s already made four baskets on coast-to-coast, one-man fastbreaks — unassisted shots that came with six seconds of him grabbing a defensive rebound. Only LeBron James, R.J. Barrett and Giannis Antetokounmpo have more but their solo fastbreaks don’t have quite the same electricity or deer-on-roller-skates quality.

— Ian Levy


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The six-step process for Kyrie Irving to get reinstated

On Saturday night, Shams Charania reported on the six steps Kyrie Irving needs to complete before he is unsuspended:

  1. Condemn and apologize for sharing the anti-Semitic movie he shared.
  2. Make $500,000 donation to anti-hate causes (he previously made a donation of this amount to the ADL which was turned away).
  3. Complete sensitivity training.
  4. Complete anti-hate training.
  5. Meet with Anti-Defamation League representatives and Jewish Brooklyn community leaders.
  6. Meet with Nets owner Joe Tsai to demonstrate understanding.

Steve Nash consulting with Charlotte Hornets

Steve Nash has not taken long to use his coaching skills after being fired.

  • Nash’s new role: Steve Nash is in Charlotte in an unofficial consulting role for the team and head coach Steve Clifford according to Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer.
  • How Nash could help: Nash is one of the greatest point guards of all time and could be a great voice in LaMelo Ball’s ear. Ball has not played this season due to injury. Clifford is in his first year back with the Hornets (he previously coached the team for five years in the 2010s) as head coach and could help him think about things differently.
  • Steve Nash recently fired: Nash was recently fired by the Brooklyn Nets. It’s unclear if he’s looking for an official coaching role, assistant or otherwise, in the immediate future.

Kevin Durant trade rumors are going to heat up soon, thinks Zach Lowe

Things in Brooklyn are shaky. Nash has been fired and star guard Kyrie Irving is suspended and needs to go through the aforementioned multi-step process to get reinstated after sharing an anti-Semitic movie.

  • NBA insiders think Kevin Durant rumors could spin: Zach Lowe said on his podcast that he thinks plenty of teams will re-express interest in Kevin Durant.
  • Before the season: Durant requested a trade this offseason but later rescinded the request and agreed to patch things up with the team.
  • Durant wanted Nash out: Kevin Durant previously asked Nets owner Joe Tsai to fire Steve Nash or to trade him.

— Josh Wilson

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