The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Were you excited to watch the Jazz this season? Were you eagerly awaiting the chance to be there as the NBA nerd’s next great bandwagon found its wheels? You probably were, because you are reading an obscure writer on an obscure basketball site talk about it right now. Which means you were probably heartbroken at the ACL injury Dante Exum suffered recently, and are glumly kicking around, wondering if the Kings could repeat their hot start from last year. Toporek isn’t quite as optimistic as a lot of folks are about Utah’s chances, mainly focusing on the gap between Exum and Trey Burke on defense. It doesn’t really matter though. Sure, the Jazz can probably still push the 8-seed, but we’re not going to see whether or not Exum managed to break through the rookie wall. That was a lot more exciting than Utah’s likely future first-round exit.
It is fun to imagine that this website is actually about getting the secret details of all the times that Harry S. Truman failed to take responsibility for something, as opposed to just being a great and enthusiastic source of writing about the Milwaukee Bucks. So if you are more into optimism about Jabari Parker than you are presidential decision-making during World War II, you should read Heffernon’s piece! It is a nice counterbalance to the Exum article; the potential impact of Jabari’s return that he lays out is really appealing to believe in. It seems like we are really enthusiastic about injury recovery at this moment in NBA fandom, which is wonderful. It is much preferable to the doom and gloom that surrounds Kobe and Jabari’s fellow Chicagoan, Derrick Rose.
There is either an unconscious theme to The Starting 5 today or else the basketball Internet just finds it really easy to speculate and discuss young players on rebuilding teams. Either way, Stuter’s piece on what, or who, Jahlil Okafor could grow into is pretty great! It makes that Jabari piece look like an apocalyptic prophecy, but that’s fine! It is totally natural to compare young players that you’re excited about to all-time greats – I’ve been thinking about how D’Angelo Russell stacks up next to Steve Nash since the minute Woj tweeted his name on draft night. And heck, if nothing else, this is a really good excuse to watch Moses Malone highlights. Moses Malone was very good at basketball.
As much fun as it is to poke fun at Sixers fans for the whole “trust the process” thing, and as much as Sam Hinkie and his private equity bosses are like the best symbol of everything wrong with America this side of Connecticut, you can’t help feel for the city of Philadelphia. And as a result, you have to love a piece like this one, which focuses on how well things could still turn out for the injured Kansas product. Comparing Joel Embiid to Blake Griffin instead of the obvious Greg Oden is kind and not inaccurate – although it does require you to ignore the fact that Embiid is about to miss his second season, while Blake was back after one. But Hamilton’s key points, that it is too soon to give up on the injured center, and that not many of the picks after him are showing much more, are well taken regardless.
A pretty good way to wrap up talking about a lot of teams with big aspirations, big plans and big setbacks is with an article about the purpose of rebuilding. Moore’s entire three-part series on the subject has been solid, but this might be the best of the lot. Talking about how we underestimate the role of luck in the NBA is sort of like talking about how Mike Conley is an underrated point guard at this point, but there is still a place for saying it well, and Moore does so. The fact of the matter will always be that the only thing approaching a guarantee of success is a top player, and you can’t always plan how you’ll find one. Staying competitive while you look, or banking on internal development to get you one, is as good a plan as any.