The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
The Thursday night TNT matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks was a good early-season barometer for Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to judge their team. After a surprising and well-played victory over the uprising Milwaukee Bucks, the Hawks exposed a lot of the things that the Knicks need to address. The way their defenders fought over screens left much to be desired and the defense in general looked awfully porous at times. The Knicks brought good energy off the bench and know what areas to improve on to become a contender in the East, and the early-season matchup against last season’s conference champion was a good test for New York.
Thank goodness basketball is back. With every team in the NBA opening their season, the best matchup thus far (and the most competitive) game was between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Highly entertaining matchups aside, the game featured many intriguing storylines with a lot to take away from the outcome, like the improved offense of Kawhi Leonard and the new focus of post-ups in San Antonio.
The Utah Jazz lost their point guard of the future in Dante Exum to an ACL tear earlier this summer, leaving a hole that needs to be addressed in their rotation. With many projections of Utah becoming a playoff team this year, the Jazz have talent and are a popular dark horse pick for the back end of the Western Conference Playoffs. The issue at point needs to be addressed if the Jazz are to go anywhere, and one of the battles at the position is between Trey Burke and Phil Pressey. Pressey might be the better choice as he’s a more consistent shooter and can be more of a pure point guard, although Burke has more natural talent.
Amid all the free agency drama, Marc Gasol (in a traditional Grizzly way) went about his business with little fanfare and re-signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, speaking volumes about his character. In a day and age where every little thing is documented and over-analyzed, Gasol is a perfect role model for how to handle negotiations and reward a loyal fan base.
It’s common vernacular that Anthony Davis is the best power forward in the NBA. Blake Griffin showed us over the last two games that he isn’t that far behind for that title. Looking absolutely dominant and showing off his elite talent, there’s really no weakness in his game anymore. Griffin can absolutely destroy a team with jumpers given space, and can blow by slower-footed defenders when they press up. Add in Griffin’s talent for passing and screen-setting, the last two games have shown Griffin’s maturity and cemented his place as a top 10 talent in the NBA.