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The Starting 5: Meet the NBA’s Old Schedule-Maker

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet 

1. As NBA Schedule-Maker Departs, He Takes with Him an Era League Won’t See Again – Howard Beck, Bleacher Report

Howard Beck pulls the curtain back on a part of the NBA everyone loves to complain about. Beck sat down with Matt Winick, the man responsible for putting together the NBA schedule every season for the last 30 years. Winick, who relinquished his duties at the end of last season, did the job almost entirely by hand, painstakingly putting together a “jigsaw puzzle with 1,230 pieces” every year. Beck probes Winick about how the process has evolved over the years, and gets the schedule guru to share some entertaining anecdotes about coaches and team executives whining about his handiwork. An excellent look at an integral part of the way the league functions.

2. 5 impact freshmen set to steamroll college basketball – Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation

If you’re anything like me, and you went to a college where basketball season was a semester long disappointment, the NCAA season serves as an opportunity to scout incoming NBA talent. In this era of one-and-dones, knowing who the top incoming freshmen are each season is integral. Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation does a great job outlining the players who NBA junkies should be keeping an eye on, especially those who cheer for a team likely to wind up in the lottery. The article breaks down some of the strengths and weaknesses of these players, and will serve for me as a guide for which NCAA games I will be sure not to miss.

3. Team USA Q&A: Stars weigh in on misperceptions, max deals and more – Ken Berger, CBS Sports

It’s not often that the best NBA players in America are gathered together in one place. The Team USA summer camp in Las Vegas last week was one of those rare occasions that so much elite talent was gathered in one place. Ken Berger does a great job of asking them questions that only true superstars could possibly answer. Topics such as dealing with Twitter trolls, the recent influx of money into the game and the ideal schedule length are broached with All-Stars John Wall, Draymond Green, Chris Paul and others. Their answers are all thoughtful and interesting and shed some light into the minds of the NBA elite.

Seven writers make their picks for the rookies they’re most excited to see in the upcoming season, excluding the top three picks from the last draft. Of the guys profiled in this piece, I must say that I’m incredibly excited to watch Magic rookie Mario Hezonja take the league by storm. Hezonja, a Croatian teenager who people are already comparing to J.R. Smith, comes into the league with a sweet shooting stroke, elite athleticism and a boatload of confidence. The reason I’m most excited to see Super Mario is that he brings outside shooting to an Orlando squad trying to make the playoffs for the first time since the trade of Dwight Howard, and I predict Hezonja will have a big impact on their ability to reach that goal.

5. Happy Birthday Kobe Bryant, here are top 10 plays of his career – Kurt Helin, ProBasketballTalk

It’s Kobe Bryant‘s 37th birthday, and Helin celebrates by posting a top 10 plays of Kobe’s career video, which was put together by NBA.com. The video includes a variety of Bean’s greatest hits, including game-winners, insane dunks and of course, his 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors. Kobe may be a shell of his former self now, but these highlights serve a reminder of just how great he used to be. Now we just have to wait and see if this upcoming season will be his last.

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