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The Starting 5 – Pistons Becoming a Van Gundy Team

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

1. The Rebuilding of Iron Man – Jason Quick, Oregonian

Warning: have the Kleenex close. This lengthy three-part story of Wes Matthews’s recovery from a torn Achilles tendon is enough for any fan to want to root for him. Quick starts with Matthews’s surgery and breaks down the important moments in his recovery up to the signing with the Mavericks. From an undrafted rookie to an expanded role in the offense, Matthews is one of the better underdog stories for next season, whether you normally root for the Mavericks or not.

2. Clippers now have two of the NBA’s best playmakers in Josh Smith and Chris Paul – Seth Partnow, Washington Post Fancy Stats Blog

During his time in Houston, nearly 94 percent of [Josh Smith] assists (and 88.6 percent overall including his time in Detroit) went to players shooting either at the rim or beyond the arc.

I don’t have the numbers for other players in the league on Partnow’s quote, but 94 percent seems impossibly high. Smith has long since been ridiculed for his shot-taking (and shot-making) habits, but it’s pretty clear that he is one of the best passing big men in the league. Combining his talents with Chris Paul – which you’ll notice in the piece is unquestionably the best passer in the league – gives the Clippers a third playmaker they’ve been lacking.

3. Heart – Ronny Turiaf, The Players’ Tribune

My intent for this particular Starting 5 is not to make you depressed, but reading the first few hundred words of Turiaf’s piece isn’t the most uplifting story. Turiaf recalls his story of needing heart surgery ten years later and the trials and tribulations since. From leaving his home at 15 in hopes of becoming a professional basketball player to playing for Gonzaga to being drafted by one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, Turiaf shares his incredible, and ultimately uplifting, story.

4. All aboard the Nikola Jokic bandwagon – Adam Mares, Denver Stiffs

The Jokic bandwagon consists of Mares, Jokic’s parents and probably a teacher that really believed him him when he was young, but that doesn’t make the piece less interesting. I normally watch a good amount of Summer League action, but was unable to catch much of it this summer due to prior obligations. However, what I was able to see of Jokic was impressive. He seems like a lesser version of Kristaps Porzingis, which would explain why he was drafted 41st and not 4th. But with his potential as an exceptional passer as a big man and the ability to knock down the occasional long-range shot, the Nuggets may have found a steal in the second-round.

5. The Pistons finally look like a Stan Van Gundy team – Satchel Price, SB Nation

The Pistons have been eerily transitioning to a team that looks nearly identical to Van Gundy’s last. With a young, athletic big man (Andre Drummond), a point guard that is best suited for a pick-and-roll attack (Reggie Jackson) and a stable of shooters surrounding them (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ersan Ilyasova, Jodie Meeks and Brandon Jennings), the Pistons could surprise the Eastern Conference next season with a playoff appearance. The only thing that could make this team more like Van Gundy’s Magic team is if Drummond becomes more dominant on the defensive end, or if Van Gundy has another incredibly awkward interview with his big man while sipping on his Diet Pepsi.

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