The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Despite his minutes and points per game being down significantly from last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge has been slowly getting the hang of his new team. It’s not often in the NBA that we see a highly-regarded title contender such as the Spurs go out and add a star free agent in his prime to their roster. That’s what the Spurs did when they signed Aldridge this last summer, and to think he would just mesh right into the new situation after spending the first nine years of his career in Portland would be foolish. Jose Grijalva of Project Spurs breaks down some of the early struggles for Aldridge and comes to his own conclusions about why the power forward has struggled at times.
The 76ers are likely the worst team in the NBA yet again, but it’s still early in the season. Brian Toporek of Hoop76 has some fun with the stats, despite the fact that they’re all an extremely small sample size. He points out that the Atlanta Hawks started last season 5-5 before going on to win 38 of their next 43. Other points of note are the early struggles of Jahlil Okafor on defense, the rise of T.J. McConnell and the slowing down of the formerly uptempo style of play that the team played with each of the last two seasons.
The Miami Heat fancy themselves as a real possible destination for upcoming free agent Kevin Durant next summer, but that’s going to be complicated. Outside of the obvious uphill battle of outdueling the big city New York Knicks and Durant’s hometown Washington Wizards (not to mention Durant’s current team), the Heat will be in the tough situation of attempting to re-sign breakout center Hassan Whiteside while staying in the running for Durant. They may be able to do it if they can convince Whiteside to sign for $10 million annually (or less), which is looking less and less likely by the day. Whiteside has become a monster, averaging 12.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in just 24.7 minutes per game over 57 games since signing with the Heat last season.
There was tempered excitement about seeing what Doug McDermott could do this season with the Bulls under head coach Fred Hoiberg. After going through the typical red-shirt rookie year under Tom Thibodeau — and also tearing his meniscus — there was a lot of hope that McDermott might begin to break out in his second season. And in a sense, he has. McDermott has shot the ball well, hitting on 19-of-33 three-point attempts, good for a ridiculous 57 percent. The problem with McDermott so far? He’s quite possibly the worst perimeter defender in the NBA. Ricky O’Donnell of Blog a Bull put together a collection of GIFs that make a strong case for McDermott’s poor defense outweighing his offensive contributions.
The Utah Jazz have gotten some solid contributions from their bench early in the season. Alec Burks has been extremely good in his new role, averaging 15.6 points in 27.4 minutes per game after being knocked from the starting shooting-guard spot by Rodney Hood. Trey Burke has also been great for the Jazz, averaging 13.4 points in just 23.3 minutes per game. The Jazz have built up quite the young, deep team with the two aforementioned players to go along with Hood, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. The Jazz are a solid playoff candidate and could develop into one of the many talented contenders in the Western Conference over the next few seasons.