The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
The Toronto Raptors do not have a significant track record of basketball success, especially in the postseason. They have made the playoffs only seven times in 20 seasons, and advanced past the first round just once. Their hapless history makes it easy to root for them as an outsider, and even easier to be nervous about their prospects. That’s why it feels so appropriate when Woodley describes Lowry as needing protection; there’s a mix of appreciation and concern there that is usually reserved for injury-prone players or particularly naïve younger siblings about to start high school. It sounds strange, but the piece gives you a new appreciation of how much Lowry is doing for that team, and how well he’s playing. It’s more than enough to get you worrying that he might slip on a patch of ice outside Honest Ed’s, or catch cold after being surprised with no coat by an unexpected rain.
The Wolf Puppies are one of the most delightful teams in the NBA right now, so it is fitting that an in-depth analysis of their play would be a pleasure to read. Mares looks at a range of factors that the young Wolves need to address as they try to get the most out of their promising young core. Taking into account each player’s strengths and weaknesses shows quite a few ways their talents complement each other, allowing for efficient and presumably effective offense. Unfortunately for Wolves fans, basketball nerds and anyone who enjoys hyperathletic youngsters running in transition, the Minnesota staff seems hesitant to employ many of these strategies. The silver lining, though, is that Mares explains it all so clearly that you can impress your friends by parroting his remarks next time you’re watching the Wolves.
Devin Booker’s name has been flitting around the edges of the Internet for weeks, momentarily darting into view on the back of another lights-out shooting performance before disappearing back into the indistinct mass of lesser known rookies and role players. Bourguet thinks it’s time to pay attention to the Suns’ sharpshooter, and based on the stats cited in his piece he may be right. If you forgive the obnoxious slideshow format, it’s solid analysis into Booker’s play style and personality, replete with glowing praise from Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek. With Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe entrenched as the starting backcourt, Booker is stuck making a name for himself off the bench, but if early returns are any indication, it seems like he’s up to the task.
This is an incredible headline, especially for a carefully disguised game recap. Neubauer goes through San Antonio’s roster top to bottom, looking at how each cog plays a role in the deadly business of the Spurs machine. He’s particularly focused on their offensive strengths, as San Antonio has been praised mainly for their defense this season. Of course, it all comes back to Pop, as most things do in San Antonio. His ability to make the right substitutions and get the most out of his bench players is a key part of what makes the Spurs the Spurs. Calling the production they’re getting from Kyle Anderson “unexpected” however is a bridge too far. Slow-Mo was destined to be a contributing member of the Spurs bench from his first lazily effortless behind-the-back pass. It was always foolish to expect anything else.
It is sort of crazy that there are two Bra(y)dens in The Starting Five today, but who am I to thwart the whims of the basketball writing gods? Regardless, this post from Piston Powered is one of the most interesting takes on All-Star chances I have ever seen. Looking at last year’s team and breaking down each player’s chances of returning is a surprisingly logical way to forecast something so fluid. Based on Shackelford’s research it does seem like Jackson has a good chance of making the team, although he may be underrating just how much the fan vote loves Kyrie Irving, how good John Wall is at playing basketball and perhaps most importantly, the push Nicolas Batum is making for a spot on the roster. If there are eight frontcourt players and only four guards, it’s hard to see Jackson making the cut.