The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
1. Four NBA predictions that appear to have already gone wrong – Nate Duncan, The Cauldron
Duncan provided previews for all 30 teams, and in doing so, made predictions on a few teams that he revisited. Among them are that the Cleveland Cavaliers would start slowly — they are currently 6-1 with a top-5 defensive rating — and more specifically, the defense would suffer without a stopper on the wing due to Iman Shumpert’s wrist injury. The second prediction was that the Atlanta Hawks would regress. The team’s net rating looked more like a 55 win team rather than the 60 win team they were last season, but so far, the Hawks seem just as dominant as last season, despite last night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
2. Ontology and Possibility: On the nature of Zach LaVine’s position – William Bohl, A Wolf Among Wolves
Nobody would argue that LaVine has been a good, or even productive, point guard in his season long (plus two weeks of this season) audition at point guard. He doesn’t seem to possess the innate ability to distribute the ball that Ricky Rubio has, and his scoring isn’t good enough to warrant putting the ball in his hands full time. But Bohl makes a strong argument for keeping LaVine at the backup point guard. The Timberwolves have a plethora of wings, all of whom need to see time to develop and none that possess the ball skills (however limited they are) of LaVine. There is a possibility that LaVine improves to the likes of a Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams or other scoring guards that make their living coming off the bench and putting up points in a hurry.
3. The Long-Term Impact of a Top-5 Draft Bust – Jeff Feyerer, Nylon Calculus
The effect that teams feel from missing on a draft pick is real. Whether it is the backlash from fans, criticism from the media or actual on-court production, teams understand the importance of a draft pick, especially one that falls at the top of the draft. The exact damage that done is still unclear, but Feyerer does some interesting research to determine that the difference in a team’s winning percentage over a four-year period when drafting a “star” compared to taking a “bust” isn’t all that different (as defined in the post). Of course, there are mitigating factors that are pointed out in the piece. Michael Beasley was obviously the bust of the 2008 draft, but the Miami Heat’s winning percentage climbed significantly over the next four seasons (the signings of Chris Bosh and LeBron James probably helped).
4. Mitch McGary’s Role Still Needs Defining – David Ramil, Hardwood Paroxysm
McGary quickly became a fan favorite after playing his first game for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Despite sitting out most of the first three months due to an injury, McGary played almost 24 minutes in his first real NBA action on February 8th of last season. He contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds against one of the most formidable frontcourts in the league, Spencer Hawes and DeAndre Jordan (Blake Griffin was out with an injury). But McGary’s minutes have been cut this season due to a few factors. The Thunder’s big men are healthy this season, which puts McGary at the bottom of the totem pole regarding playing time. A new coach means that McGary has to make another first impression and show that he deserves to play over established veterans. Finally, it’s still not conclusive that McGary is a player who can produce on a championship-level team at this age. His playmaking and passing are impressive, but he still lacks the footwork on defense to warrant any playing time on a team that already employs one of the worst defensive big men in the league.
5. For the Philadelphia 76ers, the execution of ‘The Process’ might be their downfall – Seth Partnow, The Cauldron
As stated several times, I’m a fan of Sam Hinkie’s “Process” that involves putting as many chances in the draft as possible to find the once in a generation type talent. With that said, there are undeniable flaws in the 76ers’ execution of this philosophy. While Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor seem to be cornerstones to build a franchise on, their development is hampered due to a lack of surrounding talent. There is only so much a big man can do when trying to post up in an effective area (Okafor) or trying to finish around the rim after perfectly executing his part of the pick-and-roll (Noel) when the guard lacks the skills needed to play at an NBA level. There are the makings of a successful team in Philadelphia — a good coach, good shot selection and a few players with limitless potential — but to become the team they want to be, they need to master some of the little things.