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The Starting 5: Picking Team USA

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

1.What Team USA Should Look Like In ’16 – Michael Pina, Sports On Earth

There are a couple key signs that you’ve entered the slowest part of the NBA offseason: Zach Lowe finally goes on vacation, everyone starts their blog posts with “we’re in the slowest part of the NBA offseason,” and you see a lot of articles about things like a team’s all-time starting 5, or what position each member of the Spice Girls would play in the NBA. Michael Pina’s exploration of potential 2016 Olympic teams fits with the spirit of those articles, but since the Rio games are a real event that’ll actually happen, it’s a little more grounded in reality. And it’s fun! I’m particularly fond of his Bomb Squad, because what’s better than watching NBA players gun from the FIBA three-point line, really?

2. Can Anyone Dethrone The King Of The East? – Jared Dubin, The Cauldron

If I’m being completely honest, I sort of forget that The Cauldron exists sometimes. Which is a shame, because it’s a good website with very good writers. It’s a product, I think, of the fact that they still haven’t quite figured out their identity, the amount of coverage they give to non-NBA sports and some pretty confusing navigation. And again, it’s a shame, because they put out stuff like this piece by Dubin, a great take on an overdone topic. It’s his skill as a writer that keeps another observation about the Bucks covering for Greg Monroe defensively with all their long-armed youngsters feeling engaging instead of obvious.

3. NBA AM: Larry Nance Jr. Living His Dream – Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders

The fringe player profile is another always-solid offseason story choice, executed admirably here by Alex Kennedy. Kennedy and Larry Nance Jr. have clearly developed a bit of a relationship, and it’s resulted in a profile where Nance is surprisingly open about his feelings and place in the game. A lot of it is the “bright lights, big city” stuff you’d expect for a rookie from Wyoming who just started playing for the Lakers. However, the details of how Nance, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, intends to use his newfound notoriety to spread awareness and promote research into the illness really stand out. It’s a rare man whose first thought on becoming a world-famous millionaire is how to help others.

4. Industry Q&A: NBA Director of Analytics Jason Rosenfeld – Seth Partnow, Nylon Calculus

If you’re interested in analytics at all, this is a must read. If you aren’t interested in analytics, it should at least be satisfying to see the literal director of analytics for the NBA say he doesn’t understand basketball as well as former players do. The primary focus is on how the NBA uses its data, with specific attention paid to the process of revising the schedule for this season. They also detail the duties of analytics executives at both the team and league level, and how Rosenfeld’s career has progressed. It ends up being the perfect balance of Partnow – pure enthusiasm for the numbers, questions that could help an aspiring analyst find a job and the defensiveness that pops up whenever anyone questions his fan credentials or knowledge.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge Means Spurs Have To Redesign Their Offense – Ian Levy, Sporting News

LaMarcus Aldridge was undeniably the biggest name to change teams this offseason, and many think his acquisition was enough to make the Spurs presumptive title favorites. All the while though, there have been whispers about fit, and how much San Antonio will need to adapt to Aldridge’s skill set. Levy finally lays out the numbers behind the concerns, showing how much more Aldridge both holds and shoots the ball than the rest of the Spurs bigs. It’s sort of like adding Wolverine to the Fantastic Four – sure he’s formidable, but his lone wolf attitude and singular skill set might not work with the team-first dynamic Reed Richards has worked so hard to maintain. As the article says, this isn’t a reason to give up hope; the newest star of the H-E-B ad campaign is still an incredibly talented basketball player. But Pop may be required to draw on the brilliance that let him transform the Spurs from the pound-it-out brutes they were into the pass-first ballerinas they are today if he wants it to work.

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