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The Starting 5: The Celtics Do Have a Superstar

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

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

1. “Boston Celtics 2015-16 Preview: Brad Stevens is the Superstar” – Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog

When people discuss the Celtics’ playoff chances, the conversation inevitably drifts to one criticism of the team: Boston lacks a star.

Indeed, Isaiah Thomas is the squad’s best player, but he probably isn’t even top 50 in the NBA.

However, Clark argues that head coach Brad Stevens could be the team’s superstar. He’s a master tactician who also motivates his players to give great effort, the ultimate combination for a great coach. The 2004 Detroit Pistons and 2014 San Antonio Spurs are examples of teams with legendary coaches (Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich, respectively) who won NBA titles without a superstar on their team.

Boston isn’t ready to contend for a championship yet, but Stevens is a great building block toward getting there.

2. “The WNBA foreshadowed the NBA’s positional revolution” – Philip Rossman-Reich of Hardwood Paroxysm

There’s no better time to discuss the impact of the WNBA than during its championship series. The Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx are knotted at one game apiece in their best-of-five matchup.

Believe it or not, the WNBA actually jumped on the position-less basketball bandwagon before the NBA did, as Rossman-Reich explains.

Lauren Jackson and Candace Parker are two examples of post players who dominated the league with their ability to score both inside and outside, and now NBA 4s and 5s are trying to copy that approach to further their careers.

3. “What it Takes to Rebuild in the NBA” – Alex Wong of Sports on Earth

Is tanking worth it? What is the right mix of veterans and youngsters on the roster? How should minutes be allocated on teams with promising prospects?

These are all questions that have to be answered by rebuilding teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers. These are the two teams Wong focuses on, and ultimately he judges Minnesota’s rebuild as the much more successful one so far.

Once the actual season starts, contenders will get most of the publicity, but we also need to keep our eyes on the teams trying to equip themselves for success in the future.

4. “Almost Time for Tip-Off – Jump Ball Stats” – Matt Femrite of Nylon Calculus

Jump balls at the beginning of games are pretty meaningless, but when they are live or when they begin an overtime period, they are sneaky-important. That’s one extra possession for your team to use that you wouldn’t have had.

Femrite does a bunch of digging here for some fun facts about jump balls, such as which players are best and worst at them and the biggest height disadvantages players have overcome to win a tip.

Yao Ming was surprisingly bad in these situations, and you can see just how bad here.

5. “Phoenix Suns: 3 Keys to a Successful Season” – Troy Tauscher of Valley of the Suns

What do you expect from the Phoenix Suns this season? Most everyone you talk to this season would tell you somewhere between the 8 and 11 seeds in the West; they have some solid talent in Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler, but the star power and depth on the roster still isn’t enough to compete with the titans of the Western Conference.

Tauscher examines some factors that could have the biggest effect on Phoenix’s 2014-15 season. The Suns may seem like a pretty easy team to peg, but if these keys to success occur, Phoenix should be a tough out for a Western Conference contender in the first of the playoffs.

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