The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
Hindsight is often torture for teams that draft near the top of each rookie class. The 2013 draft class was dogged for a lack of top-shelf talent at first, but some gems from lower in the first round have started to make a major impact on the league. It’s no surprise that the BBALLBREAKDOWN crew vault Giannis Antetokounmpo all the way to No. 1 overall (he was originally drafted 15th), and an abundance of quality bigs litters the re-draft’s upper tier. Most of these teams probably try not to think about previous drafts like this too much, because the majority of them would be better off had they made a different choice.
Dwight Howard was really unpopular during his stay in Houston, but he was also really good. He wasn’t always healthy, and certainly didn’t stave off the apparent dysfunction in the Rockets locker room, but he was still an elite defender and capable offensive finisher when given good opportunities. Now that Howard’s gone, the Rockets are looking to fresh-faced Clint Capela to pick up the slack. Capela was surprisingly good in his age-21 season, but an expanded role and more attention from opponents add pressure to his development ahead of schedule. While Capela doesn’t demand the offensive touches that Howard always wanted, his weaknesses on that end are basically Howard’s, only worse. Allen notes that his pick-and-roll play and free-throw shooting need to improve for Capela to avoid becoming an Achilles heel for Houston.
Portland’s roster is still raw and unsettled, and the strengths of their bench-level players might be relatively greater than their starters. With a handful of capable second-tier players on the team, Luten makes the case for newly-extended Maurice Harkless to get the nod as a starter. His case is not that Harkless is necessarily a better player than guys like Allen Crabbe or newcomer Evan Turner, but rather that he could be a better small-ball fit next to Damian Lillard, not to mention those scorers’ value as offensive firepower for the second unit.
Mikash breaks down the well-rounded game of Wilson Chandler, who is set to return to the Nuggets after missing all last season to injury. Chandler is one of the league’s most highly prized role players, and this piece details what strengths give Chandler that reputation. Unless the Nuggets are shockingly ahead of schedule (I think they’ll push for a low playoff seed at best), a return to form from Chandler could have serious trade implications. At 29, he’s significantly older than Denver’s new core and slated behind Danilo Gallinari, who the team seems determined to keep around for the long haul. Chandler isn’t going to lead a team to the top of the standings, but he’s the type of 3-and-D wing that playoff teams desperately want.
This is an arbitrary but fun comparison of some of the game’s best and most promising players. Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Anthony Davis. Blake Griffin vs. Draymond Green. James Harden vs. Russell Westbrook. Et cetera. Pina makes reasonable cases for the players he picks, but it’s hard to shut down your hot take engine for the choices you disagree with.