If the NBA weren’t so fantastic, following it would be awful. Just watching the games every season takes about as much time and effort as learning a language. Add in refreshing Twitter 60+ times an hour to keep up with league news and reading analysis, player profiles and game recaps, and you’re making a commitment on the level of marriage. An unsuccessful marriage, probably, but still. Fortunately for everyone who still has the promise ring they never managed to give their high school girlfriends, there are some folks who not only keep up with the madness, but do things like list the five best stories from the last 24 hours in the NBA with summaries and commentary. Welcome to The Starting 5.
Alvin Gentry to the Pelicans is pretty close to the best-case scenario for everyone involved, right? The Pelicans get the architect of the best offense in The Association. Anthony Davis gets a coach who, as Ben Golliver points out, has a solid track record with young, superstar power forwards. Gentry gets the most exciting job in the league, a chance to work with a generational talent and perhaps define his legacy as a coach. And the fans get to watch Davis sprinting up and down the court like some devastating amalgam of the Flash, Plastic Man and Batroc the Leaper. The big questions are on defense, where the Pelicans have shown all the fortitude of damp cardboard. Gentry isn’t known as a defensive mastermind, but his teams have been decent in the past. More importantly, as Steve Kerr has shown us this year, hiring the right assistants can go a long way towards rounding out the playbook.
There’s a pretty decent chance that you haven’t thought about Larry Sanders in awhile. Which is funny because last time you did, you probably had a pretty strong opinion about him. If you saw him as a burnout stoner who threw away the opportunity of a lifetime, you probably won’t enjoy hearing that he’s doing pretty well, even if he hasn’t quite figured everything out yet. But if you’re the kind of person who believes in the moral value of hard work and seizing opportunities more than personal happiness, then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Regardless, we should all be hoping Sanders stays in the public eye, and keeps talking about mental health in the NBA. When this conversation comes up, the consensus tends to be that teams are woefully deficient in caring for their players emotionally and psychologically. But it doesn’t seem that much changes. Having a cogent, likable person like Sanders advocating for the issue is a good thing.
3. How the Cavaliers can beat the Warriors – SB Nation
There’s a strange divide in how people are thinking about this series. There’s a subset of people who think the Dubs will simply roll the Cavs. That we’re heading to a repeat of last year. That a team of LeBron and parts can’t stand up to an elegant juggernaut of team ball, like one of Lord Zed’s monsters falling before the assembled might of the Megazord. But others like the Cavs’ dominance in these playoffs so far and think the team with the best player wins. It is, after all, hard to bet against LeBron James. Tim Cato lays out some of the ways the Cavaliers could win here, but oddly doesn’t mention offensive rebounding, which has been one of Cleveland’s biggest advantages so far in the playoffs.
4. Sefolosha says arrest has hurt his reputation – ESPN.com
During an April arrest by the NYPD, Thabo Sefolosha suffered ligament damage and a broken leg. It seems shocking it wasn’t more of a story, considering the climate around police brutality in the country and that a title contender lost one of their key rotation players. The timing of this piece from Kevin Arnovitz suggests this was deliberate; perhaps Sefolosha didn’t want to be a distraction while his team had games to play. He’s still not discussing the details of the case, but he’s rightly standing firm on the fact that he was unfairly victimized. It’s interesting to wonder how much his Swiss citizenship played into his arrest and injury; if you were used to the police treating you with respect, you would never expect the behavior of the NYPD.
5. Skiles Safe Pick For Magic – Sports On Earth
There has been a lot of derision on the NBA Internet about the Scott Skiles hire in Orlando. The consensus is that he’s a coach that’ll get you started, but probably won’t win you a title, which, fine. The question at hand seems to be why didn’t Orlando shoot for the moon, try to find its championship coach today instead of putting in two or three years with a placeholder. Why not, to use the cliche analogy, skip Doug Collins and go straight to Phil Jackson? They’re all valid questions, but it seems a little unfair. Skiles may have only won two playoff series in his 13 years of head coaching, but he’s won more games than he’s lost overall. It’s the Chris Paul fallacy that drives everyone crazy when we apply it to players: just because someone hasn’t won, doesn’t mean they can’t. Lets wait and see what Skiles does.