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The Starting 5: The NBA Always Matters

Kevin Sullivan/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

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

1. “The NBA always matters” – Tom Ziller of SB Nation

The Starting 5 highlights Ziller’s work a lot, but it’s only because he’s awesome. His column from Wednesday was particularly interesting, as he successfully debunked the misconception that the NBA doesn’t matter at the beginning of the season.

Yeah, the playoffs mean more, because you can’t lose more than three times against one team. But for the other 82 games, every game is weighted the same. A contender’s narrow loss to a bottom-feeder in early November can end up looming large when April arrives and the playoff seeding is tight.

And, like Ziller mentioned, the NBA never really matters, because it’s just sports. But we, as NBA fans, make it matter to us.

2. “On Tim Duncan and Reinvention” – Travis Hale of BBALLBREAKDOWN

Following San Antonio’s narrow loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder to open the season, Kawhi Leonard is the Spur everyone is talking about. The 24-year-old forward scored 32 points, grabbed eight rebounds, stole the ball three times and blocked two shots, limiting Kevin Durant to 22 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

But don’t forget about Tim Duncan. San Antonio’s old war horse had a quiet eight points and six rebounds in the opener, but he’ll be a big part of what the Spurs will do this year.

Hale has some interesting personal stories that connect to the way Duncan has reinvented his game, and they’re great.

3. “30 NBA Teams, 30 Reasons for Hope” – Alex Wong of Sports on Earth

We all have teams we like and others we don’t. But sometimes, it’s fun to look at various squads from the perspective of their fans. What would I be excited about if I were in their position? Since I’m a Spurs fan, the emergence of Kawhi and the integration of LaMarcus Aldridge into the system have me geeked.

But what if I were a fan of the Brooklyn Nets, a team devoid of young talent (and, really, talent in general) and juicy draft picks? They’re destined to be bad for a while.

Wong goes through every team in the league and highlights some reasons for optimism (or at least things to pay attention to) for each squad. Yes, even the Nets.

4. “Golden State Warriors: Can Stephen Curry Be Even Better in 2015-16?” – Gerald Bourguet of Hoops Habit

It’s scary to imagine, but Stephen Curry can become even better than he was last year in his MVP campaign. In the Warriors’ season-opening win against the New Orleans Pelicans, he scored 24 points in the first quarter, on his way to 40 for the game. His offense is going to be elite again.

But, to me, if Curry truly wants to take that next leap into the LeBron-Duncan-Kobe category of greats, the improvement has to come on the defensive end. In their primes, all three of those guys were just as capable of dominating the game on both ends of the floor. Steph has gotten a lot better on the defensive end, especially last season, but he isn’t a suffocating stopper by any means.

As Bourguet mentioned, his offense is so “Stephortless.” If he expends a little more energy on D this season, he’ll finally be the clear-cut best point guard in the NBA.

5. “Flip Meant Something to Everyone” – Zachary Bennett of Hardwood Paroxysm

Flip Saunders passed away Sunday. But the man was so great, the tributes shouldn’t just stop after a couple of days. Bennett chronicles Saunders’s journey from the University of Minnesota all the way until his recent tenure with the Timberwolves. Apparently, it was already pretty clear when he played for the Golden Gophers that he’d go on to be a successful coach someday.

Rest in peace, Flip. It’s been four days, but we haven’t forgotten you.

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