The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
Mario Chalmers was the Heat’s little brother; the kid everyone yelled at when things went wrong, even if it wasn’t his fault. It’s always a bit shocking to realize he’s only about 18 months younger than LeBron, that he was taking all that abuse from someone who, massive talent gap aside, was one of his peers. That’s part of what makes his success with the Grizzlies so nice to watch, as there’s something charming about one of the league’s least liked players giving a major lift to one of its most beloved franchises. As Bourguet makes clear, the Grizzlies have been better across the board since they traded for ‘Rio, winning eight of 11 since he joined the team while showing major improvements on offense, defense and from three. Bourguet is careful to remind his readers that Chalmers doesn’t deserve all the credit, and he’s right to do so. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
In yesterday’s Sunday Shootaround, Flannery wonders if the “staggering turnaround” that has the East’s middle class outplaying the West is a blip or the start of a larger trend. You could make arguments either way; the West’s weakness seems more circumstantial than predictive, while the East is simply playing better basketball. Part of it is surely due simply to development and draft picks. Eastern Conference teams have added a lot of lottery talent recently, and they’ve had years to get better in places like Orlando. There are also superstars returning from injury, (Miami, Indiana) players moving East (Hornets, Knicks) and plans finally coming to fruition (Detroit). All that being said, one wonders if the current CBA, designed to stimulate player movement and increase parity, is playing a role. More players changing teams means more drastic changes every offseason, which could make it hard for either conference to remain dominant for long.
It’s a little sad that this article had to be written. It’s a completely fair question; Jefferson is 31 and often injured, with less and less of a place in both the Hornets offense and perhaps the NBA as a whole. He’s also one of the few free agents to ever go to Charlotte voluntarily, and was instrumental in helping turn around the team’s culture. If they play well while he’s out with a strained calf, there’s no way the front office won’t think about letting him walk this coming summer, or at least offering him a substantially smaller contract. It’s the smart thing to do, because the NBA is a business. It’s just kind of a bummer for Big Al.
This piece requires some patience, but it’s worth your time to stick with it. Anthony’s extended comparison between the Thunder adapting to a new offense and the muscle memory required to perform athletic tasks on a high level takes a while to get going, but the point is sound. OKC hasn’t looked right so far this year, but they’re also adjusting to a new coach, new players and a superstar franchise centerpiece returning from injury. Anthony sees them trending upwards, evocatively and passionately making the case for his team and their new coach. They’ll just have to make it through the transition, and teach themselves a new way to play. Hopefully it works out better for them then Anthony’s son.
This is a few days old, but it’s also a very well done piece on a D-League player, so it warrants a late shout out. O’Connor spent some time with the Maine Red Claws, where the Celtics have stashed their second-round pick, and brought back reports of a rapidly developing rookie. Mickey, drafted as a shot-blocker with a limited offensive game, has apparently completely rebuilt his stroke and is now draining threes. He’s also been tasked with guarding wings, as the Celtics try to mold him into a poor man’s Draymond Green. While Mickey can’t pass like Green, the idea of adding a shot-blocking stretch 4/5 to an already versatile and dynamic Celtics roster is a pretty terrifying thought. It’s also a testament to Boston, who are using the D-League expertly as they work to develop young prospects into valuable players.