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The Starting 5: Should Dion Waiters Start in Oklahoma City?

Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire

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

1. 2015-16 Thunder season player preview: To Start or Not To Start, Why should it matter? – R.K. Anthony, Welcome To Loud City

Dion Waiters is a lot more famous than he should be because his blend of braggadocio and inefficiency is catnip for NBA writers. His toxic personality and play have made him the punch line of countless jokes, like the time he posted his own highlights to win an argument on Twitter, or when Complex edited him – standing on the perimeter and calling for the ball – into some of basketball’s greatest moments. Anthony’s preview flies in the face of all that, painting an optimistic portrait of Waiters’s NBA future based on his college career. Coming off the bench made Waiters the fourth pick in the draft coming out of Syracuse, and it is probably the best way for him to rehab his image and career as a pro.

2. The Next Beloved Portland Trail Blazer Big Man – Steven Dewald, Rip City Project

If your heart is immediately set aflutter by the photo of Meyers “Man Candy” Leonard that sits atop this article, it’s to be expected. You’re only human, after all. If your heart is then broken when you discover the piece is actually about Ed Davis, try to persevere. Odd image choice aside, Dewald does an excellent job connecting today’s Blazers with the Portland’s unique basketball history, focusing on the city’s love for blue-collar big men. If he sticks in Rip City, Davis is a great bet to eventually join this pantheon. He’s nominally a power forward, but his pick-and-roll game, work on the glass and inability to score outside the paint make him more of an undersized center. He’ll always be overmatched against centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol, but watching him give his all against them you’d think he didn’t realize it. If he lives up to his career season with the Lakers last year, he could find a space for himself in the hearts of Blazers fans.

3. Sam Hinkie And The 76ers’ Numbers Game – RealGM

This piece is, for the most part, a rehash of a lot of things we already know about the Hinkie-era 76ers. We know that Hinkie is sacrificing the present for the future; his best players may not fit together; he’s taken big risks on players like Joel Embiid that may never pay off. Towards the end however, the author points out that Hinkie’s most acclaimed trades have all been made with teams looking to get better, fast. The criticism of Hinkie’s partners in those trades tends to be that they likely won’t win a title with the team they’ve built and have given up the best way to improve if they fail. That they have given up their futures for too unsure a present, in other words. When you consider the drastically different timelines of the parties involved however, it seems wrong to declare anyone a winner in these trades. Hinkie’s Sixers aren’t just employing a different strategy than the rest of the NBA. In a lot of ways, they’re playing an entirely different game.

4. Washington Wizards: Uptempo Offense Evident Thus Far – Colby Giacubeno, Hoops Habit

This is the third year in a row where the Wizards, coming off surprising success in the playoffs, will try to live up to expectations in the regular season. Reading Giacubeno’s breakdown of their preseason play makes it seem like this could be the year they finally pull it off. With John Wall, one of league’s fastest players, running their offense, it just makes sense for Washington to push the pace, and it sounds as if the rest of the roster has completely bought in to the new strategy. Krish Humphries spent the offseason working on his outside shooting, Bradley Beal wants to “eliminate long twos” from his game and Marcin Gortat has always been happy to run like a madman. And then of course, there’s Otto Porter, who is doing his best to make the team forget Paul Pierce ever left. Wizard fans are rightly excited, and everyone else should be too; there are few things in the NBA more beautiful than a John Wall-led fast break, and it sounds like this year will bring a lot of them.

5. NBA Saturday: How Are New Guys Fitting in? – Jesse Blancarte, Basketball Insiders

Preseason is a fans first chance to see how the highly touted offseason acquisitions look with the team, but spotty television coverage can make it hard to actually watch the games, not to mention how die-hard you need to be to watch preseason basketball in the first place. Blancarte has you covered if you’ve been wondering about your team but haven’t had a chance to see them play yet, breaking down the performance and fit of all the biggest names that moved this offseason. All the analysis is by necessity based on a very small sample size, so there’s no need for Clippers fans to start tearing their hair out over Lance Stephenson’s ball stopping quite yet. The preseason can be surprisingly instructive though, and at the very least you’ll be able to impress your friends with how well informed you are when the season kicks off next Tuesday.

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