The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content around the Internet
The big question for Thursday’s draft is big men, and Zach Harper has a big answer to the Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Jahlil Okafor question. He’s looking at it to find a best fit with the Wolves, but the breakdown he does will help any fan whose team has a shot at one of these players. He ends up landing on Towns, which shouldn’t surprise anyone as he seems to be the consensus No. 1 pick, but he makes a compelling case for Okafor, one that should soothe some Lakers fans concerned the Duke big man may not have a place in the modern NBA.
The few days leading up to the draft are like Christmas morning, when all the presents are still unopened, still full of potential Nintendo 64s and paintball guns. So while a lot of the players picked Thursday may end up being more like a particularly itchy sweater from your aunt, it’s still a lot of fun to wonder what could happen beforehand. Willie Cauley-Stein might embody that sense of wonder more than anyone else in the draft, and Ed Isaacson does a nice job of breaking down why. Whether he ends up ever developing an offensive game is up in the air, but damn is it exciting to wonder what could be.
The out of nowhere lottery pick is another old story, and Cameron Payne is looking to star in this year’s remake. Perhaps bolstered by the successes of Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry, mid-major point guards who’ve made good in the big leagues, Payne’s stock has been steadily rising. While it’s unfair to judge his future against MVPs and All-Stars, he’s a good scorer and scouts say he has uncanny passing vision. And since he’s already talking about the chip on his shoulder and what he can be, he’s definitely got NBA-ready personal branding skills as well.
With Nike making ads about LeBron James’s triumphant failure in the finals, it’s a good time to look back on the moments when great players fell short. HoopsCritic helps us remember those times, shining the spotlight on Dirk Nowitzki against the We Believe Warriors, Jason Kidd falling apart against the Pistons in ’04 and even Michael Jordan falling to the Shaq-Penny Magic in 1995. It’s a great read if you’re looking for a little bit of hoops history, or just want to remember how brutal some of the playoff losses in 2004 were.
The more we look at the numbers, the more incredible it seems that LeBron managed to push the Warriors to 6 games in the Finals. Krishna Narsu uses some impressive math to demonstrate just how much James was doing, and how much his teammates weren’t. The punch line is that out of six non-LeBron players who played more than 50 minutes, only three were better than replacement level – Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and James Jones – and Jones was right on the edge. Which is hopefully the end of the conversation, because we’re gonna hurt Delly, J.R and Shump’s feelings if we keep talking about this.