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The Starting 5: They Finally Sent a Poet

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The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet

1. Welcome to My Basketball Life – Rowan Ricardo Phillips, The Paris Review

Week three is the first real milestone in the NBA season, at least for me. After the orgiastic frenzy of content consumption that defines the first two weeks, it’s time to look up, take a breath and figure out what and who will be essential watching, reading and listening for the rest of the year. Humbly, I would like to suggest adding Rowan Ricardo Phillips, a poet who received a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, to your list. You have many options for detailed analysis, uninformed opinions and exclamatory descriptions of highlights. There are very few places where you will read a description of Carmelo Anthony’s three-point shot as “casual and pure, effortless, almost boring, like slipping a lollipop back into your mouth.”

2. ESPN President John Skipper on His Decision to Shutter Grantland – James Andrew Miller, Vanity Fair

With all respect to every other website on the Internet, Grantland was the gold standard of basketball coverage. Zach Lowe’s columns alone justified placement in the upper echelon, but regular features such as the site’s podcasts, Jason Concepcion’s well-crafted whimsy, Danny Chau’s obsession with terrible basketball and the consistently excellent NBA Shootaround really elevated Grantland above any of their competitors. So if the season has felt strange or empty so far, if you’ve found yourself actually paying attention in meetings and/or refreshing Twitter more compulsively than normal, read Miller’s piece. It won’t bring the site back, but at least you’ll understand better why it was taken from you.

3. Kevin Durant Can’t Avoid ‘Elephant In The Room’ As He Visits Washington – Michael Lee, Yahoo! Sports

It is too early for articles about Kevin Durant’s impending free agency, but the Thunder’s single game in Washington D.C. is Tuesday, so here we are. Fortunately, Durant is one of the best interviews in the Association, so the piece is filled with candid reflection on the free agency process, as well as insight into his recovery from injury. We tend to think of athletes only in terms of games missed and the prospect of recovery; Durant opening up about needing his mom to help him shower, or how nice it felt to wear a pair of shoes after four months, sheds some light on the personal side of those missed games.

4. Slow Start or the Beginning of an Epic Struggle – Josh Eberley, Hoops Critic

The start of the season creates the conditions for a perfect storm of ill formed opinions and overreactions, as basketball-starved writers collide with teams learning new systems and superstars playing themselves into shape. That’s part of the enjoyment of an article like Eberley’s, as he makes no attempt to reach a definitive conclusion based on little evidence, instead opting to speculate wildly on various players’ slow starts. His combination of statistical analysis and historical precedence lends credence to his conclusions, especially when it comes to Kobe Bryant, although most interesting is his look at Klay Thompson. How long does the Warriors’ 2-guard slump have to continue before we get worried? How good does Stephen Curry have to be for them to remain the best backcourt in the league with the rise of Bradley Beal?

5. It’s Time To Start Wondering If Doc Rivers Has Run His Course With Clippers – Justin Russo, Clips Nation

In the past 48 hours, Justin Russo has written nearly five thousand words on the Los Angeles Clippers. Those three articles represent almost every variety of NBA content, with a game preview, an analysis of game film and the opinion column featured here. That he’s spilled that much ink is impressive in and of itself; what makes Russo stand out though is the quality of each piece. His analysis of Rivers as a coach dives into minute distribution, defensive assignments and in-game strategy, thoroughly exploring each as he makes a case that their coaching staff is letting the Clippers down. His points are compelling and leave you wondering if Doc can make the adjustments that would let the Clippers raise a banner of their own into the rafters of Staples Center.

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