The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Steve Kerr won championships with both Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson, and at the start of the season there was a lot of talk about whose influence we’d see more in his coaching style. As Lazenby’s article says, for the most part they went Pop, playing the San Antonio flow offense that has brought the Spurs so much success recently. But according to assistant coach Luke Walton, they’re also guided by a figure from Kerr’s time with Jackson – Tex Winter, architect of the Triangle offense. The Warriors aren’t only following Winter’s example by emphasizing fundamentals, the piece also argues they’ve subtly built some basic principles of the Triangle into their game. It’s kind of funny that the playoff team that inspired the most “how’s it goink” tweets is also the one that’s been most heavily influenced by Phil Jackson.
Speaking of the brilliance of LeBron James, there’s been a lot of conversation about the massive role he’s playing on offense, and his insanely high usage percentage. If you want to understand that role a little more deeply, Partnow breaks down just how significant James’s impact has been, and just how little his teammates are doing to back him up. Perhaps most interesting, going into Game 4 the Cavs had shot 12-37, and only 1-9 from 3, when shooting immediately after an oREB. According to Partnow, this is good for an effective field goal percentage of only 33.8 percent, a full 20 percentage points worse than the league average of 53.8 percent. Which, is, you know, not great, especially when you consider that a lot of those shots are putback bunnies at the rim.
The NBA is far and away the best professional basketball league in the world, drawing the best talent and the greatest attention. So it’s not a surprise that, excepting a brief window of interest for the Olympics every 4 years, American basketball fans are pretty unaware of the global game. That’s why we talk about David Blatt as if he sprung fully formed from the head of James Naismith, a rookie coach unprepared for the scrutiny and pressures of the Association. It’s also why you should read Weitzman’s piece on Blatt’s history in the Euroleague, which uses interviews with players and staff from Blatt’s Maccabi Tel Aviv teams to add some backstory to the coach. We can and should admire the job Blatt is doing to keep the Cavaliers in this series without taking anything away from the brilliance of LeBron James.
While we’re doing the history lesson thing, Tjarks has a really reasonable take on the constant discussion of who the true GOAT is, nestled within a wonderful summary of the series so far. This season felt futuristic even before we saw J.R. Smith on a glowing hands-free Segway. We’re watching Stephen Curry drain impossible shots while smashing almost every shooting record there is. We’re watching LeBron play point center, but unlike Magic Johnson in 1980, James at 6’9” was the biggest person on the floor. We’re in the rare position of watching something change, and understanding in the moment that things are never going to be the same.
Are you sick of Matthew Dellavedova? Draymond Green sure is. If you aren’t though, this piece on how Australia is reacting to Delly’s emergence is interesting. The Australian basketball tradition doesn’t get the attention of an international powerhouse like Spain or a hoops-obsessed nation like the Philippines, but as anyone who’s ever listened to The Starters knows, they have some rabid NBA fans. If the state of the Australian NBL is as bad as Sicari says, it’s nice that hoops fans down there get something to cheer about. And since the craze is profound enough that radio stations are bringing in random friends of Delly’s for interviews, it’s good for the league as well.