The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Have you been watching the Hornets? Like, really watching them I mean, not just tuning in for their recent fourth-quarter comebacks against the Wizards and Kings. If you haven’t, Mags has you covered with a Zach Lowe-style post analyzing Charlotte’s new offense. Focusing on the big men who will need to step up due to Al Jefferson’s recent injury, he helpfully illustrates how the Hornets have added a fluid and effective offense to the characteristically stout defense of the Steve Clifford era. Their new offensive principles – more threes, better ball movement, less turnovers – aren’t shocking, but their effectiveness is. Even at full strength, no one really expected Charlotte to do much this year. Instead, without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – the linchpin of their defense – they’re a top 10 team on both ends of the floor, with the seventh-best net rating and the 10th-best record in the NBA. Who saw that coming?
Ever since the New Republic eviscerated Woj and Dan Gilbert almost got Kelly Dwyer fired, I’ve been a little suspicious of Yahoo! Sports. As such, it’s hard to tell what to make of this piece from Spears. It’s undoubtedly interesting, and definitely well written, but it also seems a little…convenient? The idea of Rondo mentoring Boogie in a somehow surlier, moodier and less sane version of the old Rondo/KG dynamic is delightful. Likewise, Big Cuz displaying the maturity to meet and compromise with his coach is an encouraging sign in his development. But given all the chaos that surrounds Sacramento, and especially the Cousins/Karl relationship, the chorus of love and good cheer that Spears quotes has just a whiff of spin.
Sean Gentille is wrong about Kevin Durant, the media and the present. He’s also wrong about Jordan, Kobe and a bunch of other stuff! That being said, this is a pretty great article to read; whether or not you agree with his points they’re interesting and well considered. There are two points where he truly falls short however, which are worth addressing. First and foremost, he doesn’t seem to consider, or at least doesn’t speak to, the fact that the fans ARE the media now. There is a big difference between the occasional column taking digs at a player’s character or game and seeing mockery in game recaps, fantasy sports blurbs and film analysis. Secondly, he seems to almost deliberately misunderstand Durant’s comment that Kobe was “our Jordan.” It has nothing to do with media perception, endorsements or crying Jordan memes, at least in my view. It’s remembering how it felt to want, more than anything, to play like Bryant, to run outside after watching tapes of Lakers games to practice what you saw, and then seeing the person who inspired you to be who you are dragged through the mud. Who wouldn’t be upset?
In other mentor/mentee relationships, we get a peek into a budding friendship between Celtics. Camerato is very good at these brief profiles on less-covered players, so there’s a lot to enjoy here. The way players take it upon themselves to guide and support rookies is an underrated facet of the NBA, and the picture of that relationship in its larval stages that Camerato provides here is a welcome addition to the media landscape. Plus, details of David Lee’s watch collection! Always fun to hear about how the absurdly wealthy spend their money.
Austin Rivers is quoted in Woike’s article as saying, of Chris Paul’s potential injuries, “it’s part of the reason I wanted to come back. I knew I’d have a great opportunity to fill in his shoes when he’s down and not playing.” This raises a few questions, like: where else was Austin Rivers going? How did he “know [Paul’s injury] was coming?” Did the Clippers re-sign Austin Rivers because of his supernatural ability to predict the future as well as his much-vaunted defense? And perhaps most importantly, can you call a player a backup point guard when they’re averaging only 1.1 assists per game?