The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Derrick Favors was originally drafted by the then-New Jersey Nets as a 19-year-old power-forward prospect back in 2010. He was traded midseason in his rookie year to the Utah Jazz for Deron Williams, and since has toiled in relative obscurity out in Utah. But he’s had a slow rise in performance and production, averaging 16.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season in 14 games with the Jazz, who are 7-7 on the season. Clint Johnson of Salt City Hoops breaks down what he believes is Favors’s rise to superstar level, including his jump to top 15 status in most big statistical categories that has Johnson arguing that Favors is one of the top 10 players in the NBA.
Luis Scola has somewhat quietly been one of the big reasons for the Toronto Raptors’ early success this season, leading to a 10-6 record. He’s starting and playing just under 24 minutes per game for the Raptors, and advanced metrics show that the team has been better when Scola is on the floor. The defensive rating, assist rating, assist-to-turnover and pace are all better when he’s been out there, and it shows in the way that head coach Dwane Casey trusts him. He communicates well on both offense and defense and is well known for the things that he does well on the court — mainly scoring in the post and face-up shooting — which creates a calming effect for his teammates. His experience is a major positive for a Raptors team that often looked inexperienced the last two years.
With Mike Dunleavy Jr. missing the early portion of the season, the Bulls have relied a lot on Tony Snell and Doug McDermott to hold down the fort at the small-forward position. The problem has been that Snell is a raw offensive player, with catch-and-shoot ability and not a ton to write home about in any other department on that end of the floor. McDermott is a fine offensive player and a good shooter, but a dumpster fire on the defensive end. Dunleavy is still likely a month away from returning from his back surgery, and at 35 years old it’s hard to know what you can expect from him going forward. All three guys are role players with limitations, making it a difficult spot for the Bulls to be in.
Ben McLemore has struggled to find his comfort level in the Kings’ offense under George Karl. He’s down to playing around 20 minutes per game this year and averaging just 7.6 points after scoring over 12 points per game last season. But McLemore has been getting more comfortable lately, playing a few more minutes over his last eight games and starting his last seven in a row. Over that span, McLemore has seen his scoring rise to 10.4 points per game and his shooting percentages jump to 47 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from three-point range. Over his short career, McLemore has been a much better player when he’s aggressive and plays with confidence, and it looks like he’s starting to do just that under Karl.
For a bit of fun, Bright Side of the Sun lays out the top 10 free agent bargains in the history of the Phoenix Suns. The list contains such Suns greats and notables as Danny Manning, Clifford Robinson, Rex Chapman and Steve Nash. It’s surprising to look back and see what players signed for in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and remembering how good those players were on some of those Suns teams.