Russell Westbrook stands and waits. (Garrett Ellwood/NBA/Getty Images)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: SLAM. Tzvi Twersky sits down with Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, whom he claims might just be the most misunderstood player in the NBA, for a profile that touches on Westbrook's boundless kinetic energy, his remarkable (and maybe even underrated) athleticism and his unwillingness to let anyone cover up his scars, literally and figuratively. It's a fun read.
PF: D.C. Sports Bog. It's commendable that multiple members of the Washington Wizards gave of their time to serve as coaches and officials during a Special Olympics basketball game on Monday night, but "commendable" might not be the right word for swingman Martell Webster's coaching style; to hear teammate John Wall tell it, the appropriate term is "terrible." Luckily, my ace Sarah Kogod was on hand to document the sideline shenanigans, complete with video.
SF: Chicago Tribune. Let's all engage in a little bit of 20/20 schadenfreude and have a laff or two at Skip Bayless writing before the 2001 NBA draft that DeSagana Diop was "the only man alive age 18 or above with the potential to be better than Shaquille O'Neal," "a physically mature man-child with the feet, touch and timing of a young Hakeem Olajuwon" and a future star who would "eventually put Chicago back on the NBA map." Mmmmm. Delicious.
SG: Heat.com and HoopChalk. Couper Moorhead uses a lot of screenshots, video and step-by-step analysis to break down how the Miami Heat defended the New York Knicks' bread-and-butter high screen-and-roll play on Sunday, and Jared Dubin details one way Mike Woodson has tried to diversify New York's attack and give the Knicks' flagging recent offense a jolt — by using some clever motion and screening to create open elbow jumpers for Amar'e Stoudemire. The latter point could become increasingly important if the knee injury Anthony suffered a right knee injury early in the Knicks' Monday night win over the Cleveland Cavaliers winds up being something more than nothing. (He's currently listed as questionable for New York's Wednesday night game against the Detroit Pistons.)
PG: Eye on Basketball. Matt Moore isn't saying the NBA Most Valuable Player award is broken, necessarily ... but he still thinks that breaking it up into three separate awards would make it better, and elevate those players who were transcendent enough in all three areas to win "The Trifecta" to all-time status. It's a fun, interesting thought experiment/barstool argument, if you're in the market.
6th: Peachtree Hoops. Robby Kalland breaks down two bread-and-butter Atlanta Hawks sets that head coach Larry Drew loves to go to, especially late in games, to get clean interior looks for big man Al Horford.
7th: RealGM. Jonathan Tjarks takes a look at the massive collection of north-of-the-border talent presently in and on the way to the NCAA and asks: Could Canada have a "Golden Generation" ready to take international competition by storm in 2020?
8th: Orlando Pinstriped Post. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise wretched Orlando Magic season has been the play and development of second-year big man Nikola Vucevic. Since the trade deadline, though, the USC product has floundered a bit, leading Evan Dunlap to wonder: What's up with Nik?
9th: Reminders that LeBron James is great. Let's use this as a catch-all spot to highlight Jason Gay's fantastic column on the "rare air" James inhabits these days, Mike Prada's wonderful breakdown of James' second-half defense against Carmelo Anthony on Sunday and Jack McCallum's consideration of where James ranks among the NBA's all-time all-around greats.
10th: SB Nation. Matt Ufford's really good, sharp, smart read on Dennis Rodman's "basketball diplomacy" trip to North Korea, his subsequent interview by ABC's George Stephanopoulos (whom you might remember from his case of mistaken identity at the presidential inauguration), the odd position Rodman's in and more.
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- Russell Westbrook