The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
1. Could OKC be a free-agency player next offseason? – Jon Hamm, Bleacher Report
While losing Kevin Durant was the biggest blow to the Oklahoma City Thunder in franchise history, it did open an avenue that had been closed during the team’s nine-year history: a chance to sign a free agent. While much has been made of the Thunder’s inability to sign a significant free agent, the team has never had the money to be a significant player in the summer due to Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka’s contracts on the books. Oklahoma City will still have to convince one of 2017’s prized free agents to choose Oklahoma over more desirable destinations, but Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder’s young roster is a good place to start.
2. Was Yao Ming’s career unusually short for a Hall of Fame inductee? – Todd Whitehead, Nylon Calculus
With his recent induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Yao Ming’s career is dissected to determine whether his career was shorter or longer than other Hall of Famers. Ming’s career may have been shorter than other comparable players, but his induction into the Hall of Fame was for more than his on-court play. Ming was the first Asian player to resonate with the majority of Asian fans of the NBA, helping to grow the sport in an area that hadn’t been known for the love of the game before.
3. The final stretch of LeBron’s race toward greatness – Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer
At 31 years old, LeBron James is already one of the best players the game has ever seen. From his three championship rings to his six straight Finals appearances, to the incredible burden he carried after coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to dethrone the Golden State Warriors, no athlete has put the type of stress on his body at such a young age than LeBron. Questions will continue to arise on how long he can keep this up.
4. Mo Williams winding career ends with closure – William Bohl, Fear the Sword
After announcing he would return for another season, Mo Williams abruptly retired from the NBA just before Media Day for Cleveland last week. Williams was the definition of an NBA Journeyman, as he played for seven different franchises in his 13 seasons. While he didn’t go out exactly on a dream scenario, Williams left the NBA as a champion, something very few players have the opportunity to do.
5. Al Horford can replace Evan Turner as a secondary playmaker for the Celtics – Brendon Kleen, Hardwood Paroxysm
After two relatively productive seasons in Boston, Evan Turner signed a lucrative contract in Portland, leaving a significant amount of possessions open for a replacement in Boston. While Boston may lack the direct replacement for Turner on the wing for those possessions, they made a free agency splash of their own in Al Horford. Horford has been one of the better big men over the past few years and should help the Celtics maintain a top defense while also improving the offense. Horford thrived in a motion-style offense in Atlanta, and Brad Stevens runs things similarly in Boston.