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The Starting 5: Oh Nokafor

Marilyn Indahl/USA TODAY Sports

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

1. Jahlil Okafor’s Apparent Street Fight Is More Proof Of 76ers’ Flawed Rebuilding Plan – Michael Lee, Yahoo Sports

Is this a Hot Take? It feels like it could be, but it also feels…true? Sure, “the Sixers’ young players would benefit from veteran leadership” is the current argument of choice against the process, but doesn’t Philadelphia’s young franchise player allegedly getting into a street fight because of how terrible the team is sort of support the idea? A dude who has done nothing but win his whole life has probably not learned how to take this many consecutive Ls with grace, and a roster that has done nothing but lose over the last three years probably can’t offer much in terms of reassurance things get better. That’s why Okafor’s yelling about how rich he is on the video; it’s like an investment banker who’s just been thrown out of a bar asking the bouncer how much he makes, clinging to the only thing he can in an attempt to salvage his pride.

2. Reel Talk: The Corbin Smith Review Of Basketball Highlights For The Week With Thanksgiving In It – Corbin A. Smith, Vice Sports

Thanksgiving is over. You are a little fatter, perhaps slightly hung over, are returning to your regular life; enjoying a day off with your loved ones if you are lucky, serving a screaming hoard of deal-seekers at one of the nation’s many Black Friday events if you are part of the oppressed working class. Either way, you probably need help getting back into a basketball state of mind before tonight’s alarmingly dense slate of NBA games. Fortunately for you, national treasure Corbin A. Smith has what you need: easily digestible highlights reviewed and rated for your viewing pleasure. They may not be the most important moments from this week’s games. They may not even be plays you want to watch. But Smith is a master at elevating the mundane, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the Lakers’ broken pick-and-roll defense as much as your grandma’s pumpkin pie. Maybe even more, because pumpkin is like a third-tier pie if we are all being completely honest.

3. Victor Oladipo Embraces Role, Succeeds Off Bench – Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily

I have no numbers to support this claim, but I think the Orlando Magic show up in this column less than any other team. It’s not at all fair given their status as an exciting young team on the rise; they just tend to slip my mind. So a day late, here’s some thanks for the Magic and the folks who write about the team. This piece from Rossman-Reich is basically just a game recap, but the significance of this particular contest makes it far more interesting. Victor Oladipo’s move to the bench is a bit of a shock considering his high draft position and quality of play, but something had to be done about Orlando’s spacing. His demotion lit a fire under the 2-guard, as evidenced by the return of the bulldog determination that has defined his game. The piece uses quotes from his Magic teammates and ‘Dipo himself to show just how motivated he is by his new position, and gives Orlando fans something to look forward to as the season gets serious.

4. Pacers Must Maximize Paul George’s Prime As They Forge New Identity – Zach Harper, CBS Sports

The Pacers would probably be as ignored as the Magic if it weren’t for the consistently transcendent play of Paul George. Instead, they’re one of the most interesting teams in the league, a maelstrom of swirling storylines and styles still in the process of defining itself. Harper questions one of the major narratives around the team, PG13 at power forward for a small ball Indiana team, wondering if the Pacers have time to experiment with their team identity while they have a superstar in his prime. It’s a well-considered piece for the most part, but the idea that they’re still figuring out how to build around George seems to be founded on some outdated ideas about this team. Sure, coming into the season no one knew what to expect from Indiana. But now they’re 9-5, good enough for the No. 3 seed in the East, and their net rating trails only the Warriors, Spurs and Cavs. How much more building do they really need to do?

5. RTOE: Basketball Thanksgiving – Hardwood Paroxysm Staff, Hardwood Paroxysm

Do you realize how dope basketball is? How accessible the NBA has become, how exciting this season already is, how spectacular the players, how flat out cool this sport really is? It is obvious enough that the answer is probably yes, but if you need some supporting arguments, this roundtable from Hardwood Paroxysm has ‘em in droves. Everyone loves different things about this league, and hearing what the HP staff is truly thankful for is a nice reminder that there’s a huge depth to NBA fandom, a vast array of angles and storylines to obsess over. It’s a big part of what makes the NBA the best league in American sports, and we should all be grateful for it.

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