The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
The big, hot topic around the NBA the last few weeks has been whether the Golden State Warriors can break the 1995-96 Bulls’ regular-season record of 72-10. While Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper have weighed in making statements about the Bulls being the better team, analysts and former opponents of that Bulls team such as Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller have asked people to pump the breaks on talking about the Warriors breaking that record. But the fact is that the Warriors are now 14-0 on the season and are beating teams by an average of 15 points per game. From this point forward, the Dubs need to go 59-9 to break that 20-year-old Bulls record, and it’s very much in play.
Kevin McHale, to the surprise of many around the league, was fired this week following his Rockets starting the season 4-7 after getting to the Western Conference Finals last year. Believing that he’d lost the locker room, Rockets management moved swiftly in an attempt to save the season in what they believe is a window of time for them to win a championship. This is a good lesson for the Knicks and head coach Derek Fisher, who struggled in his first season as head coach last year and has continued some of those issues into this season. Phil Jackson has shown his support to Fisher, his former player and hand-picked leader for this team. But the Knicks have done well to add support to the roster around Carmelo Anthony, and at 7-6 and thinking about how they can contend in the Eastern Conference, an extended skid might go a long way in sealing Fisher’s fate.
Despite Tom Thibodeau being fired after five seasons leading the Bulls, his stamp on the team lives on through the current incarnation of the squad. Could the Bulls really have expected a drastic change with the same exact personnel on the court? They’ve played with a faster pace, moving from No. 21 in the NBA in pace last year to 11 this year. But overall, things are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Jimmy Butler still looks like a stud, Derrick Rose is dealing with injuries, Nikola Mirotic shows promise but hasn’t put it all together yet and Joakim Noah still doesn’t have knees. So far, the jury is out on Fred Hoiberg as a coach. But if you’re judging just based on how well the bad things from last year have changed, this team looks pretty much the same as it ever has.
Last offseason, coming off a 60-win season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks had a decision to make on how to move forward with their roster. DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap were both free agents and the team needed to decide which of them they were going to pay and which they were going to allow to leave. They ended up bringing back Millsap while Carroll signed to play with the Toronto Raptors, but it’s looking like the right decision right now. Andrew Snyder details how the 30-year-old Millsap is on pace to set career highs in points, rebounds, three-point percentage and attempted threes.
Lakers coach Byron Scott has had some confusing thoughts on a minutes limit for Kobe Bryant lately, originally saying that Bryant wouldn’t play more than about 34 minutes per game, which is what he averaged last year. But then he turned around and played Kobe 36 and 37 minutes in his last two games, and his tune changed relating to going over the minutes limit he previously discussed, pointing out that the Lakers are trying to win games. Meanwhile, Bryant is making jokes after games that he’s not looking forward to having to walk to his car. With rumors about job security and fans calling for a change to be made, it’s worth keeping an eye on how well Scott handles Bryant’s minutes going forward.