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The Starting 5: The Straws That Stir the Drink

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

1. Straws That Stir The Drink: Half Court Creators – Seth Partnow, Nylon Calculus 

The most valuable offensive players are always the players who can create in a half-court setting. Sets and plays are all viable options to getting players open and getting players looks, but it’s effective to an extent. Even with a Spurs-ian offense and the genius of Gregg Popovich, a team still needs a Tony Parker/Manu Ginobili/Kawhi Leonard who can create looks for themselves and others when things break down or when the defense bottles up the play. Partnow takes a look at who the most valuable assets are who can create for their team.

2. Paul George at power forward and the power of choice – Danny Leroux, Hardwood Paroxysm 

Paul George is a bona fide Swiss Army Knife. If he can return to his pre-injury self, George is an incredible asset who can do it all on the offensive and defensive end. The problem lies with the Pacers’ defense and what scheme they intend to run. George is the Pacers’ best defender, but who will he guard? Will he take on the opposing teams’ best player to help neutralize that threat? That would be fine with George guarding 1s and 2s, but the undersized Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey would struggle guarding any competent small forward. George could also potentially guard talented 4s like Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, etc., but that would put him in a bind as he gives up a lot of size, and who knows what kind of impact that would have on his offensive game. Read more on what the Pacers should do with George leading on the defensive end.

3. What to Watch for in Tim Duncan’s 19th and (Perhaps?) Final Season – Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report

Good news for San Antonio fans. Pop has come out and said that with the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge, he wanted to commit to Aldridge, meaning that the Spurs will see at least five more years of Popovich. The sad, undeniable news: time progresses ever so surely, and the trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili get older year after year. In what will be perhaps the great Duncan’s final season, Hughes takes a look at what we can expect from the sure fire Hall of Famer, who could go down as the greatest power forward of all time.

4. The Suns are a perfect sleeper candidate – Paul Flannery and Tom Ziller, SB Nation

Flannery and Ziller are discussing every team in the NBA, and the Suns have rose to the forefront of the discussion. In the ultra-competitive West, the Suns could be a great team if one had to choose a team that could squeak into the playoffs. No one is saying the Suns are a true contender, but they do have some good pieces that could put up a fight in the West and fight for a spot in the playoffs.

5. Nuggets Short-Term Issues Have Long-Term Solutions – Jonathan Tjarks, RealGM

With Ty Lawson shipped out to Houston, Kenneth Faried is now arguably the best player in Denver. However, Tjarks thinks Faried is an “empty stats on a bad team” kind of player and that he’d benefit the team most by coming off the bench. The Nuggets do have some pieces, but they’re very young and there’s no real go-to guy on offense who can get you that crunch-time bucket. Who are you going to give the ball to? Danilo Gallinari looked good at the end of last season, but he has health questions and he’s never really been a true go-to guy. Wilson Chandler can’t really create his own shot the way superstars need to in crunch time, leaving Faried (doesn’t have much offensive touch) or the two backcourt players (Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris), who have combined for a total of 55 games of NBA experience. The Nuggets have a lot of questions to answer.

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