The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
1. “The Craft: Derrick Favors adapts to the new world of NBA big men” – Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated
When a player is labeled “underrated” enough times, they tend to become overrated. That’s not the case with Derrick Favors.
People still tend to gloss over the Jazz power forward when the discussion of the NBA’s best power forwards comes up, or when the discussion shifts to the All-Star Game, despite his impressive two-way game and gaudy efficiency stats (26.6 PER, 0.239 win shares per 48 minutes, both top eight numbers league-wide). Favors has been Utah’s best player and deserves to be an All-Star so far this season, even in a Western Conference loaded with great frontcourt players.
With news of Rudy Gobert’s MCL injury arriving Wednesday, it’s fitting Mahoney looks here at the former No. 3 overall pick’s amazing adaptability. Favors will be asked to play many more minutes at center in Gobert’s absence, and I’m sure he’ll do well.
2. “Andrew Bogut on the Warriors’ Critics: ‘There Are a Lot of Dumb People Out There‘” – Seerat Sohi of Rolling Stone
It’s not as many as it was before this season, but believe it or not, there are still actual human beings who aren’t sold on the 20-0 Warriors. In this interview Sohi has with Andrew Bogut, the Golden State center provides an inside look at his team’s motivation and his personal views on the comparisons the Warriors are getting with great teams of the past.
As a Spurs fan, I don’t like that the Warriors are so dominant, but I’ve pretty much come to accept it. These guys are an all-time great team and have the perfect roster for today’s NBA. I just hope someone can at least challenge them in the postseason (hopefully San Antonio!).
3. “The Spurs’ Defense and Three-Point Shot Prevention” – Positive Residual of Nylon Calculus
Speaking of the Spurs, they’re doing a pretty good job themselves. And the main reason for that is dominance on the defensive end of the floor.
They’ve allowed 92.3 points per 100 possessions, by far the best mark in the NBA’s past 10 seasons. The closest any team has come to that is this year’s Indiana Pacers, who allow 95.2 points per 100 possessions.
Positive Residual goes in-depth on what makes San Antonio tick on the defensive end of the floor, especially how it runs teams off the three-point line.
4. “C.J. Miles is the glue holding the Pacers’ small-ball attack together” – Yaron Weitzman of SB Nation
What if I told you Stephen Curry is to Draymond Green as Paul George is to C.J. Miles? Bold, huh? To an extent, though it’s true.
Both teams play a lot of small ball, and Curry and George are the offensive superstars the systems revolve around. Green is a versatile defender who stretches the floor, and Miles does the same (minus a bunch of passing ability, admittedly).
George is a great defender himself, but Weitzman offers a great explanation on how the 6’6″ Miles adequately covers power forwards to keep PG-13 hounding ball-handlers on the perimeter, where’s he most comfortable.
5. “Kobe Bryant is Utterly Shameless And I Love Him” – Greg Howard of Deadspin
It’s been sad to watch Kobe Bryant play in his last NBA season. He takes a ton of shots despite terrible efficiency, and his lack of athleticism and the energy he uses on offense makes it so can’t be a positive anymore on defense anymore.
Howard is by no means excusing Kobe of bad play with this piece, but he points out that the 37-year-old is staying true to his playing style and not hedging anything.
It’s mostly frustrating to watch, but it’s still, like, 10 percent refreshing, especially when he finds a way to hit those trademark ill-advised shots. He scored 31 points on a reasonable 24 shots Wednesday night, so that’s something, right?