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The Starting 5: Appreciating Supporting Players

Dec. 23, 2015 - Atlanta, GA, USA - The Atlanta Hawks' Kent Bazemore celebrates after a 107-100 win against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, at Philips Arena in Atlanta (Photo by Curtis Compton/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
Curtis Compton/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

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

1. “NBA PM: Bazemore Playing Best Basketball of Career” – Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders

If you’re looking for reasons why the Hawks aren’t on a 60-win pace again this season, don’t start with the absence of DeMarre Carroll.

Kent Bazemore has put up nearly identical stats to the player he’s replaced at starting small forward, playing similarly solid defense and supporting the other Atlanta starters very well. If the Hawks were doing better as a team, he might be getting more buzz in the Most Improved Player race.

Taylor talks to Bazemore here about his role in Atlanta and how he’s gotten so much better this season.

2. “Why Is Ed Davis So Good at Rebounding?” – Brandon Goldner of Blazer’s Edge

In an era where floor spacing is so important, we place a premium on big men who can shoot. But those who don’t have range can still make an impact.

The Trail Blazers’ Ed Davis isn’t huge or anything, but he’s bouncy for a guy 6’10” and, more importantly, really wants to grab every single shot. He ranks 12th league-wide in rebound percentage (18.9).

Goldner offers an expert breakdown of the former Tar Heel’s most valuable skill.

3. “While the shots aren’t falling, Green’s focus is on wins and playing defense” – Jabari Young of MySanAntonio

When you’re a streak shooter in an extended slump, you can’t just stop shooting. Doing so would only give you less confidence in your shot and take away your rhythm.

Danny Green is having an ugly season from behind the arc (30.9 percent, despite defenses not paying that much attention to him) and struggling from most other areas, as well. He’s a very good defender, so he’s not totally useless on the court now, but a lot of his value is gone now.

In the mean time, he’s playing on the best team in NBA history, if margin of victory (plus-13.6 for San Antonio this season) is your measuring stick. The Spurs can afford to keep playing Green as he works his way back into shooting excellence and continues contributing in several other areas.

4. “Defensive-minded Gerald Green still packs a scoring punch for Miami Heat” – Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald

It’s weird to see “defensive-minded” and Gerald Green in the same sentence. His reputation says a streak scorer who really couldn’t care less on the other end.

As Navarro writes here, Green is no longer apathetic toward stopping the opponent from scoring. With his insane athleticism, an engaged version of him has been helpful for the Heat in their defensive efforts.

5. “Kelly Olynyk Filling in Great as a Starter” – Joshua Bateman of Hardwood Houdini

Speaking of players outperforming their defensive reputation, Kelly Olynyk has been a revelation on that end for Brad Stevens’s Boston Celtics this year.

The former Gonzaga center is known as a finesse big who can shoot extremely well and put the ball on the deck when necessary, but he has a tough side to him defensively. Bateman explores this topic and how the third-year pro has succeeded as a fill-in starter.

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