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: SB Nation and Sactown Royalty. Tom Ziller dons two different hats — one belonging to a sharply analytical league-wide chronicler who gets why things happen in the NBA in a way few others do, and one belonging to a die-hard fan, team blogger and civic booster who simply refuses to concede the fate of the Sacramento Kings — and we get two fantastic pieces of writing out of it. Throughout a wrenching, ridiculous, years-long farce perpetrated by the Maloof family to the detriment of the entire city of Sacramento, Ziller has been responsive, responsible and insanely good in his writing about the difficult matter of a fan base trying desperately to hold onto its team, and to hold onto hope. We're lucky to have him telling this story. I just wish it didn't so often seem like such a frequently depressing story to tell. (Which is why it's worth reading that second link again, and again, and again.)
PF: Hardwood Paroxysm. As someone who watches, reads about and presumably enjoys the NBA, chances are you're aware that New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't exactly have the most sterling defensive reputation. But do you know why he's a bad defender? Dylan Murphy rewound the tape on Stoudemire's performance in Monday's loss to the Boston Celtics to point out, using helpful still images and video clips, exactly what he does wrong on defense. In short: Most things.
SF: Brew Hoop. We know that Larry Sanders — excuse me: LARRY SANDERS! — has taken a great leap forward as both a shotblocker and an individual defender for the Milwaukee Bucks, but he's also shown softer hands, improved finishing ability and a dedication to attacking the rim in the pick-and-roll this season. So why has the Bucks' offense been significantly better when he's not on the floor? Dan Sinclair takes a closer look at Sanders' on-court/off-court splits in search of some truth for his lyin' eyes.
SG: At the Hive. Rohan Cruyff details the ceilings he's established in his mind for Greivis Vasquez since the former Maryland star came into the NBA, and how Vasquez has kept rising up and smashing through them, going from fringe pro to serviceable backup point guard to bad starting lead guard to actual, honest-to-goodness average-or-above NBA triggerman. I loved this post, but might be biased because it mirrors so much of my own thinking about Vasquez — I loved what I saw him do during the 2010-11 playoffs for the Memphis Grizzlies but wasn't sure he could build on that during the regular season, I loved his improvement in virtually every statistical category last year but wasn't sure he could be relied upon for league-average play as a starter this season, and have found myself very pleasantly surprised as he's grown into an effervescent, effective and confident leader on an increasingly fun Hornets team that's won three straight. It's been a cool story, and it's one that's well told by Cruyff.
PG: Sports Illustrated. From this year's D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev., veteran scribe Ian Thomsen takes a look at the way the developmental framework has evolved after a dozen years into something resembling the "future for the NBA" long since promised. (Sidenote: Did you know a full quarter of current NBA players have D-League experience?)
6th: GQ.com. Lang Whitaker chops it up with Jamal Crawford about his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers, which has been both insanely successful thus far and oddly revelatory in terms of how people view players; the 13-year vet's handle, shake moves and crossovers have gotten more attention this year than ever, but as Crawford tells Whitaker, "You know, I've been doing these things for years."
7th: Cavs: The Blog. I really like the way Colin McGowan writes. It's not just the way he analyzes the Cleveland Cavaliers' roster or theorizes about difficult-to-resolve quandaries like what the Cavs, possessed of an exemplary asset in Kyrie Irving and not much else to write home about just yet, should do about building their team going forward; it's also his ability to string words together in fun, evocative ways to put together legitimately interesting prose, which you don't always get in sportswriting and/or sports blogging. Here's my favorite sentence from McGowan's consideration of the unique problems posed by sidelined-for-six-to-eight-weeks center Anderson Varejao: "The injury-prone player is a flickering hologram; his existence is halfway." There just feels like a lot of "there" there in that sentence; I don't know, maybe it's just me.
8th: Grantland. Everything Jonathan Abrams writes is worth your time and attention; when he writes on the long, winding and intertwined roads from Chapel Hill to New York City taken by Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, it's worth stopping everything you're doing.
9th: SB Nation. "Now, Turner's making threes, but not making concessions." James Herbert talks with Philadelphia 76ers wing Evan Turner, plus some of his teammates and opponents, about how things are finally starting to come together for the former No. 2 overall draft pick.
10th: 48 Minutes of Hell. On the occasion of the Los Angeles Lakers visit to the AT&T Center to take on (and lose to) the San Antonio Spurs, Jesse Blanchard considers the different leadership styles provided by, and perhaps required of, career-coinciding all-time greats Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.
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