Hakeem always made it look good. (Nathaniel S. Butler/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: Houstonia Magazine. Jeff Balke's fun feature offers a look (if only a glimpse) at the post-retirement life of Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the most creative big men ever to play the game and now a real-estate and clothing magnate who describes his post-playing passions in what feel like pretty perfect terms for the man who gave us the Dream Shake: “I love design, architecture, the feel of certain rooms.”
PF: Pounding the Rock. Over at SB Nation's San Antonio Spurs blog, Cameron Archer — which is a pretty rad name, I think — argues that Tim Duncan's defensive rebounding, in addition to his shot-blocking and pick-and-roll positioning, make him a worthy candidate for this season's Defensive Player of the Year award.
SF: Salt City Hoops. I liked reading and thinking about Evan Hall's take on how the rabid EnergySolutions Arena faithful recently turned their affections away from Al Jefferson, the way said faithful are perceived around the league and whether the dark margins of intensity are the best place for a fan base to live: "Maybe Utah Jazz fandom needs an attitude correction before we start to dread going to a game the same way we dread our high school friend’s glib political commentary on Facebook."
SG: Wall Street Journal. Anyone who's watched multiple New York Knicks games this season — and especially in the long, weird, burst-and-bloom, barely-above-.500 period that has followed the team's rambunctious 18-5 start — has probably wondered at least once or twice why coach Mike Woodson has seemed intent on doing stuff like starting Kurt Thomas or James White, playing them five minutes and then yanking them, rather than just starting first-off-the-bench reserves like Amar'e Stoudemire or J.R. Smith. Well, Chris Herring asked Woodson why. The answer, from a psychological/motivational standpoint, is pretty fascinating.
PG: Bullets Forever, Truth About It, Broom on the Warpath and NBA Stats. A four-pack of postmortems after John Wall's remarkable 47-point performance against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, focusing on (in order) some subtle mechanical adjustments to his long-janky (now a bit more reliable) jumper, the in-house scene and postgame environment following one of the great individual performances of the 2012-13 NBA season, a closer look at just how much Wall's stepped his game up in March and a statistical breakdown of how much better the Washington Wizards have been since Wall's return from injury in mid-January.
6th: Waiting for Next Year. With the Cleveland Cavaliers headed back to the lottery and with an eventful visit from a former star fresh in mind, Andrew Schnitkey considers the premise that the Cavs need LeBron James to come back in order to contend once again, and wonders whether Cleveland GM Chris Grant might be better served taking a different approach. Clear books, full complement of draft picks, can't lose?
7th: Daily Thunder. The Oklahoma City Thunder followed Kevin Durant's "must-win" declaration with a pair of victories to get back within 1 1/2 games of the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference. But as dopes like me question whether OKC's vulnerable against top-flight comp, the Thunder's season-long statistical profile suggests that Scott Brooks' squad might be one of the seven most dominant teams of the shot-clock era. Royce Young lays it out and wonders what it all means.
8th: Beyond the Buzzer. NBA players love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, because of course they do, because PB&J is delicious all the time and they're not dummies. MOVING ON.
9th: Zach Lowe, twice. Grantland's NBA monster hits us with a Tuesday two-fer, digging deep on how the 27-straight-and-counting Miami Heat have completely overhauled their offensive identity in Year 3 of the LeBron/Wade/Bosh era, and detailing just how porous (and postseason-prospect-compromising) the Los Angeles Lakers' defense has been.
10th: Silver Screen and Roll. And speaking of that heinous L.A. D, C.A. Clark weighs in on how Bryant — who "has defended recklessly, idiotically, or he simply hasn't defended at all" for large chunks of this season — really didn't have any room to say anything about schemes, assignments and closeouts after the Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
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- Hakeem Olajuwon