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The Starting 5: Tristan Thompson’s Unseen Motivation

Curtis Compton/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

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

1. “Tristan Thompson determined to make a difference” – Donovan Bennett of SportsNet

Most of the Tristan Thompson-related articles you’ll read today will be about whether the five-year, $82 million deal he signed with the Cavaliers Wednesday was worth it for the team. Most writers on both sides of the argument will agree the 24-year-old was being unreasonable and selfish.

This is not one of those articles.

Bennett sits down with Thompson and discusses a physical disorder that’s very close to home for the Cavs forward, and a big reason why he plays. Thompson is very active in the cause to treat this disorder, donating a lot of his money and time.

I myself haven’t been the biggest fan of Thompson, but it’s good to hear stories like this that start to help understand what makes him tick.

2. “New Orleans Pelicans: Is it Time to Blow it Up and Start Over?” – Michael Saenz of Sir Charles in Charge

The Pelicans have a distinct advantage over the rest of the league. Anthony Davis, unquestionably the NBA’s best franchise building block, resides in New Orleans.

However, the talent on the rest of the roster leaves much to be desired, and it’s also a terribly injury-prone group. When you have a player as dominant as Davis, you want to take advantage by having a supporting cast that can help The Brow toward championship contention, which New Orleans’ group isn’t ready to do.

Saenz campaigns for some wholesale changes in New Orleans, which probably isn’t a bad idea. Davis, at just 22 years old, has a bunch of great years ahead of him (fingers crossed), and if the Pelicans can flip the likes of Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon for some potential-filled prospects or juicy picks, they might be more equipped to win a championship in a couple of years.

3. “Markieff Morris and the Phoenix Suns Offense” – Brendon Kleen of Bright Side of the Sun

One of the more surprising developments of this training camp season for me was Markieff Morris suddenly being OK with playing for the Suns. After all the fuss Morris made over the summer, I figured Phoenix would eventually just cave and trade the disgruntled stretch 4.

Well, Morris is back and apparently on board, so the Suns should benefit from his services in 2015-16.

Markieff is actually a very nice fit next to Tyson Chandler in the starting frontcourt. Morris stretches the floor and can score from several places on the court, in contrast to Chandler’s one-dimensional offensive game. On the other hand, Chandler protects the rim and does so without fouling too much, which are both issues with Morris.

As Kleen notes, this pairing could lift the 26-year-old to a career year.

4. “Denver Nuggets: Why Modeling Memphis Grizzlies Won’t Work” – Tom Firme of HoopsHabit

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is apparently preaching some very similar defensive concepts to what forward Darrell Arthur practiced with his former team, the Memphis Grizzlies.

Denver has never been known as a defensive squad, as the thin air of the city has often caused its squads to focus on pushing the pace on offense and making a killing in transition. Malone isn’t rejecting the idea of playing at a fast tempo, but he does want the team to be known for its defensive effort and rotations. If the Nuggets can force tough shots and turnovers, their transition game will be that much more deadly.

Now, as Firme mentions, Denver has nowhere near the personnel to become a Memphis-caliber defensive team overnight. However, effort does go a long way, and if the Nuggets can crack the top half of the league in defensive efficiency this year, that should be seen as a monumental win for Malone and his squad.

5. “The Very Unofficial 2015-16 NBA League Pass Rankings” – Matt D’Anna of HoopsHabit

Grantland’s Zach Lowe has rolled through Parts One and Two of his League Pass rankings, and they’re great (as Lowe’s work always is), but D’Anna takes the same concept and looks at it in a fresh way.

He chooses “freshness”, “rarity” and “squadability” as his three categories, and ends up with a list that looks almost totally different from that of Grantland’s resident NBA expert.

A taste of that: Lowe’s No. 1, the Golden State Warriors, are 18th on D’Anna’s list. Both picks make sense, but you’ll have to read each piece to figure out why.

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