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The Starting 5: Players With Something To Prove in 2015-16

Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports

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

1. The Proving Grounds: Reggie Jackson and Michael Carter-Williams — James Holas, BBALLBREAKDOWN

Though Reggie Jackson just received a hefty new contract, both he and Michael Carter-Williams have a ton to prove this season. Each player struggled amidst major hype and was ultimately traded from the organization that drafted him. James Holas goes deep on the two young point guards and looks at what the stakes are entering next season. Jackson refused to accept a small role in Oklahoma City and needs to work out some kinks in his game to be a high-level point guard. Carter-Williams, tossed aside by the Sixers, must prove he belongs as the starter of Milwaukee’s fast-rising squad.

2. Roy Hibbert vs. Roy Hibbert — Baxter Holmes, ESPN

Baxter Holmes has a longform profile of Roy Hibbert, one of the NBA’s hardest players to figure out. Hibbert has worked harder than anyone to turn himself into a starting NBA center and elite defender, but he often psychs himself out mentally. Holmes takes a good look at the complicated psyche of Hibbert and the former All-Star’s quiet confidence about playing in Los Angeles. There’s also some fantastic history about the rise of “verticality” as a bona fide defensive strategy, which Hibbert pioneered.

3. Do the numbers support a Derrick Rose-Jimmy Butler beef? — Jacob Bikshorn, (D)Roses and Thorns

In Chicago, much has been made about perceived tension, or “beef”, between stars Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Butler’s new five-year deal has mostly squashed those rumors, but there was some definite truth to the guards’ at times awkward fit together. Jacob Bikshorn eschewed the “sources” and dove straight into the data to find out if there really was something amidst. He found that while Butler was a far more efficient long-range shooter when Rose played, the former MVP used more than his fair share of possessions. Fred Hoiberg‘s new offense should go a long way toward alleviating the issues, but Rose likely needs to defer to his partner more in the future.

4. The life of the non-guaranteed NBA player — Bobby Marks, Hoops Hype

If you haven’t followed offseason breakout star Bobby Marks on Twitter yet, do it right now. A former high-level front office member of the Brooklyn Nets, Marks is a salary cap guru currently doing his work for the fine people of Twitter rather than an NBA team. Here, Bobby looks at the very difficult path that fringe NBA players take toward securing non-guaranteed contracts. There a lot of talented hoopers vying for a tiny chunk of available NBA roster spots. For the dream, it’s worth it.

5. NBA Utopia Project: Why a 58-game season would be better for all — Danny Leroux, Sporting News

Danny Leroux is starting a summer NBA project where we, fans and analysts, hypothesize how the ideal NBA should operate. To start things off, Danny makes a compelling case for shortening the season from 82 games to 58, with each team playing each other twice.. The obvious impetus for such a change would be to decrease meaningless games, injuries and the length of a marathon season. Leroux also points out that teams could actually practice under this schedule. Further, each team would have the exact same schedule, eliminating questions of conference and division imbalance on records. Tweet your #NBAUtopia ideas with the hashtag to join the conversation!

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