The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Matt Moore loves the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s not alone in this; Memphis is the Deadpool of the NBA, beloved by the hardcore fan and media, even as the rest of the world overlooks them again and again. His piece tackles their recent successes and failures, laying out their place in the competitive hierarchy of the bloodthirsty Western Conference, and examining how and why they’ve come up short in the postseason. It’s not a new observation to point out the Grizzlies’ lack of shooting as a limiting factor in their success, nor is it challenging deeply held conventions to say an NBA team needs luck to win the chip. But like Rufus Wainwright covering Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” a new expression of a good idea still has value.
There’s a lot to like about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; he’s a hardworking kid who’s overcome a lot to make it in the NBA, and never stops trying to get better. That’s part of what the Hornets are counting on with his $52 million extension; they’re like a record executive locking down a promising young artist on the strength of an early single. But if that’s our comparison, MKG’s early tracks have been really, really good; they’re just artfully crafted compositions as opposed to smash radio singles. He’s already one of the best defensive players in the league, and his 7-foot wingspan means he hasn’t necessarily reached the top of his game yet. He’s had some trouble staying healthy, but as Patt points out, his contract will end up being around 12 percent of the rising salary cap. It’s a pretty easy call to invest in a 21-year-old with both offensive and defensive upside, especially for a Charlotte team that doesn’t have much history of draft success.
You want to hope things are going to get better for the Nuggets this year. They were the darlings of the league a couple seasons ago, and the precipitous decline has been harder to watch than Tracy Jordan’s Oscar winning film adaptation of the novel “Stone Cold Bummer” by Manipulate. Schmidt is making the case that Jokic could be a step on the path back to relevance, and his breakdown of the Serbian center’s offensive game is encouraging. You can see how a 6’ 11” stretch 5 could work with Emmanuel Mudiay’s pick-and-roll game or Jusuf Nurkic’s bruising post presence. Jokic’s 7’ 3” wingspan leaves him with an ape index just an inch short of Kidd-Gilchrist’s praiseworthy arms, so his defensive efforts should be able to make an impact as well. One does have to wonder why, if the Nuggets were looking for a Euro big man, they didn’t just keep Rudy Gobert in 2013, but perhaps they didn’t realize just how bad things had gotten at that point.
This is a not great article elevated by some incredible quotes and an interesting subject that’s still well worth the read. DeLisha Milton-Jones saying, “Becky’s been living my dream. I remember having a conversation with her and saying, ‘yo Becky, you’re living my dream,’” is worth the price of admission alone, really. And even without a great interview subject, the story of another woman looking to coach in the NBA is worth a read; especially one that tells you the ABA still exists, because really, who knew? Vertsberger doesn’t discuss the fact, however, that Milton-Jones would be the first DeLisha Milton-Jones more than the next Becky Hammon. Becoming the first African-American female head coach in the NBA would be an accomplishment deserving of celebration in its own right, and in its own context.
This article is ostensibly about Billy Donovan’s need to win, but it talks a whole lot more about the potential health issues facing the Thunder this year than anything specifically related to coaching the team. In some ways though, that adds another layer of stress to Donovan’s job; no matter what he does, if Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka can’t stay healthy this season, Donovan is pretty much sunk. Of course you could say that about any head coach losing his three best players to injury, but Durant’s impending free agency, even though he has done very little to make one think he’ll be leaving, adds an extra layer of intrigue to the situation. This Thunder season has all the swirling storylines of a Final Crisis-esque comic book crossover event, with winning a title and missing the playoffs both totally in play. They’re going to be must-see TV this year.