The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Corbin Smith is an undervalued treasure, an unpolished jewel in the crown of American sports writing. I have said it before, but giving him a larger audience and a consistent platform is the best thing Vice Sports has done. Today, he deals with the inevitable impact the dissolution of the Washington Generals will have on their counterparts, the Harlem Globetrotters, and basketball as a whole. It’s a journey you’ll have to go on yourself, but suffice to say that he toes the line of the absurd with such grace that you’re caught off guard when he finally takes his running leap across. But somehow, when you see where he’s landed, it’s the only thing that makes any sense at all.
During the four years he spent buried on the depth chart in Toronto and Memphis, the cries of “free Ed Davis” grew louder and louder. They reached a crescendo last year, as he struggled in the clutching morass of the 2014-15 Lakers season. But Davis shone like the Light of Eärendil in those dark days, matching or exceeding his career highs nearly across the board, and Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey took notice. Now in Portland on a three-year, $20 million contract, Davis is finally free. Taking his defensive skills for granted, Diaz’s piece examines the 6’ 10” forward’s potential offensive impact, focusing on his skills both as a pick-and-roll finisher and his court vision. Davis shot 61 percent as the roll man last year, placing him slightly above departing Blazers center Robin Lopez, albeit on less attempts. Assuming the Blazers’ pick-and-roll propensities are undiminished, we could see great things from Davis this year.
Wednesday is a good day it seems for appreciating the offensive abilities of players with primarily defensive reputations who either have or currently do play for the Memphis Grizzlies. And with the right perspective, Tony Allen’s offense is easy to appreciate. Jordan goes long here, with a wide array of gifs that highlight Allen’s strengths: his off-ball cutting, transition offense and passing out of drives. Most of what makes Allen dangerous on offense could be boiled down to hustle, but that doesn’t do justice to the knowledge of the game required to not just bust your ass, but do it in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to help your team win.
To get it out of the way, the answer to the question posed in the headline is unequivocally yes. Carey’s article lays out the reasoning, responding to second-round pick J.P. Tokoto’s decision to take the K.J. McDaniels inspired single year, non-guaranteed contract. Tokoto’s alternatives were even less appealing than McDaniels’s in some ways, as he wouldn’t have been guaranteed a single dollar of NBA salary while stashed, but he still would have been bound to and owned by the Sixers. The choice he is making is undoubtedly a risk; after all, he may not even make it through training camp. But if he does end up playing in Europe, Asia or even the D-League now, he’ll be doing it on his own terms.
Despite its brevity, there is something deeply fascinating about this article, or the way it’s presented. First of all, the analysis is solid, and the point is well taken. Rodney Stuckey’s nearly 40 percent three-point shooting last year was both unprecedented and unlikely, so it’s little surprise that the statistics point towards a regression this year. The fact that Stuckey was pulling up for contested shots more often definitely points to either a flukey season, or a J.R. Smith-like affection for shooting with a defender in his grill. What makes the article so interesting, however, is the headline. Throughout the piece, Levy goes out of his way to qualify his findings, pointing out that the sample size is too small to definitely point to a change, and resolving that “it seems highly unlikely that [Stuckey] comes close to repeating his outside shooting performance.” Strangely though, all that qualification comes after the fiercely declarative headline led the article with a condemnation of Stuckey’s improvement. It’s an interesting contrast, and one that might point to some readers’ issues with stats in general. When the argument has already been decided in the headline, it is hard for any amount of qualification to make it seem like you’re doing anything but telling everyone you’re right.