The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
This article is so good, I started following Dowsett on Twitter as soon as I finished reading. It’s an exceptionally well-written and incredibly informative examination of pace in the NBA, focused on how teams could possibly counter the Warriors. Dowsett uses isolated time of possession metrics to show that the teams who have had the greatest success against the Warriors recently – the Cavaliers in last year’s Finals, the Jazz on Monday – have waited until nearly the end of the shot clock before taking a shot. This is typically seen as a sign that the offense is struggling to find a good shot; Dowsett instead argues that as a deliberate strategy, it might offer the best chance to beat the Warriors. Given how many teams have chosen to chase Golden State’s style without the personnel to execute it properly, it’s exciting to see an alternative emerge.
Warning: the graphics at the top of this piece do a poor job of telegraphing how spectacular it is. While the illustration is effective, the real beauty of Rosenthal’s post is in how effectively it reorients your perception of basketball, calling attention to something you’ve seen countless times but never truly noticed. Steph Curry’s limitless range has been discussed to death, but going deep on how it affects the specific rhythms of the game adds a new layer to appreciate. What’s most fascinating though is his consideration of how Curry affects the way we see the game itself. Very rarely does the level of work that cameramen, announcers and producers put into every broadcast get discussed at length; even less often do we consider how the work is done. If you’re interested in the minutiae of basketball, or a blogger looking for examples of how to write a compelling and unique story without interview access, you can’t miss this.
Since discovering his blog recently, Fenrich has quickly become one of my favorite writers out there. His nose for history and awareness of statistical subtleties give his work a Bill Simmons-like feel, but without the self-indulgence and weird attitude towards women. Yesterday’s post is a simple examination of significant stats from the first quarter of the season, placed in their historical context. History can only tell you so much, of course; the fact that five of the six players who have recorded 130 assists and 150 rebounds to start a season are first ballot Hall of Famers does not guarantee that Draymond Green will be as well. But it does provide context to the achievement, and can give you a new appreciation of his unique talents.
You can always count on Gomez to do justice to the intricacies of the sport, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Kawhi Leonard is widely recognized as one of the NBA’s best defenders, but the careful examination here – including a spectacularly detailed breakdown of Leonard’s block on Kevin Durant in the season opener – opens your eyes to just how talented he truly is. In Gomez’s view, Leonard is almost singularly responsible for elevating the Spurs from a disciplined but unspectacular defensive team to the best defense in the league. Whether or not you agree with him, you won’t regret hearing what he has to say.
When I was 15, I tied a rope to the back of a car, held the other end and let it tow me on my skateboard while I carved back and forth as if I was wakeboarding. This was an incredibly dumb thing to do, because teenagers are incredibly dumb. That is the main point of White’s piece. Teenagers are dumb. Jahlil Okafor is a teenager. Therefore, he is doing some really dumb things that most teenagers probably tried to do at one time or another. While his argument is straightforward and the point is obvious, there are some great diversions into the obsessive desire for meaning and narrative in sports viewership that make it worth your click.