The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Klay Thompson’s can seem a bit robotic. It’s not really his fault; he’s on the same roster as Draymond Green, perhaps the league’s biggest non-JaVale personality, and Stephen Curry, the best show on TV, fire given human flesh. His stone-faced calm on the court also plays a role, something Zarrabi mentions in the opening lines of this profile. From there, the surprisingly deep interview gives you real insight into who Thompson is and what he values, including the fact that he was a serious chess player in high school. Aside from the fact that we need to get a Melo/Thompson chess match going ASAP, the biggest reveal is how genuinely Klay seems to want to mentor and guide young people. You also get the sense that he’s still figuring out what it means to be an NBA star, and still can’t quite believe it. Maybe that’s why his personality doesn’t really stand out with the Warriors; he’s still figuring out what it is.
Despite the quality writing they feature, I tend to forget Complex has a sports vertical. While I’m missing out on a lot of great stuff, the upside is I get to be pleasantly surprised when I stumble across articles like this profile of Bomani Jones. Brown does an excellent job highlighting what makes Jones one of the most unique and valuable personalities in sports media, skimming over his rise to prominence in favor of discussing his process and voice at length. As anyone who uses Twitter knows, Jones can be polarizing, and Brown argues that in light of the recent closure of Grantland and other high-profile departures from ESPN, having someone willing to address controversial topics in a substantive way working for the worldwide leader is more important than ever.
After two years of embarrassing playoff defeats and failure to close in tight games, it’s hard to trust the Raptors’ 14-9 start. There’s some solid data to suggest this time might be different though, which Peddle lays out in what will become a regular feature at the imaginatively named Raptors HQ. While Peddle doesn’t start with Kyle Lowry, it seems safe to say the team’s success does; the undersized and newly svelte point guard is on pace to set franchise records in a wide variety of advanced stats, and trails only Stephen Curry in Real Plus-Minus. The defensive numbers from Bismack Biyombo are also encouraging, as the loss of Jonas Valanciunas to a broken hand was expected to cause major issues in Toronto. Their bottom three assist percentage, however, is a major red flag. It seems the lesson Paul Pierce taught them in Brooklyn two years ago about isolation ball and the postseason didn’t get through.
Speaking of formerly chubby point guards, Raymond Felton still isn’t one. He’s not actually fat, of course; you can’t play in the NBA and be in terrible shape, especially not the way Felton has been in Dallas. But while his chubby face and stocky build are here to stay, he’s enjoying a renaissance in Dallas this year, contributing real minutes to the Mavericks’ unanticipated success. Auping compares him to a supporting character on a TV show, occasionally featured in episodes, occasionally disappearing entirely; in other words, he’s Wesley in the last season of Angel, giving his all to make amends for past sins, doing everything he can to help the team.
You have to appreciate a headline that gets straight to the point like this. Maloney and his article are right, of course; having healthy players in the postseason is the biggest key to playoff success, and a rested player is a healthy player. Cries of indignation about depriving fans of watching the players they came to see place a premium on entertainment over the health of the athletes, which is not a reason to halt the practice. Of course, considering how absurd the prices for games against marquee teams can be, it does make some sense that attendees would be upset if LeBron or Stephen Curry didn’t suit up. Maybe the solution, if we assume there won’t be a longer season or fewer games, could be addressed economically. What if teams discounted tickets to games where players were resting? What if the burden fell on the billionaire owners, instead of the players and the fans? Doesn’t that seem fair?