Tim Duncan defends. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/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. Bryan Mears offers a by-the-numbers reminder that if you're not packing a top-10 defense, history says you don't have much of a chance of hoisting the O'Brien come summertime.
PF: SB Nation. Mike Prada goes in-depth on what's made the Oklahoma City Thunder's defense — third-best in points allowed per possession this season, trailing only the Indiana Pacers in opponents' field goal percentage — so all-fire dominant this year, and why it only fortifies their claim to being the favorites to come out of the Western Conference.
SF: ESPN Insider ($). The New York Knicks' defense has been awful all season, tied for the NBA's seventh-worst defensive efficiency mark and ranking 21st among 30 teams in opponents' field goal percentage. A few weeks back, center Tyson Chandler questioned embattled head coach Mike Woodson's switch-heavy defensive scheme, but David Thorpe thinks poor work by the center himself bears a larger share of the blame for New York's permissive play.
SG: Truth About It. Kyle Weidie on why the above-.500 and playoff-or-bust-minded Washington Wizards shouldn't be in a rush to move small forward Trevor Ariza, what it means to ride "the Ariza chillwave," and why sometimes it's OK to just let free-agents-to-be walk away.
PG: New York Post. The resurgence of Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston has been one of the league's better stories in recent weeks, as the former prep-to-pros lottery pick has put up sound across-the-board numbers (10.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, three assists, 1.9 steals in 30.5 minutes per game in 2014) and helped fuel the "longball" lineups that have sparked an 11-4 run for Jason Kidd's squad. But what's fueled him? As Tim Bontemps explains, it's reading Herman Hesse's "Siddartha," duh. (Siddhart-duh.)
6th: Indianapolis Star. Andrew Bynum apparently sold the Indiana Pacers on signing him by making it clear that he wants to fit in. Whether he can contribute much in the process remains to be seen. Also, the leg-injury-plagued center loves creating radical workouts, including one that former teammate and current Atlanta Hawks assistant Darvin Ham calls "a ninja workout that few have seen." So, y'know, stuff with Andrew Bynum sounds pretty good.
7th: In Street Clothes. The prospects of a trade that sends Pau Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Phoenix Suns might have cooled due to the Spanish big man's recent right groin strain, but as Jeff Stotts notes, Gasol's injury alone shouldn't be a deal-breaker for the Suns thanks to their top-flight medical and training staff, "another ace in the hole that could help them maximize their return."
8th: CBSSports.com. LaMarcus Aldridge wants to wait until this summer, but he reiterates to Ken Berger that he wants to discuss a long-term contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers that would keep him in the Pacific Northwest far into the future.
9th: Regressing. Reuben Fischer-Baum with some pretty insane chartsengrafs showing just how special the high-usage/high-efficiency seasons that Kevin Durant and LeBron James are turning in really are when placed in historical context: "If these stat lines hold, or if they even just regress a bit, 2013-14 could have not one, but two of the most remarkable offensive performances the league has ever seen."
10th: Uni Watch. Want to know what Adidas and the NBA may have in the pipeline when it comes to alternate jerseys and All-Star warmups in the year ahead? Paul Lukas doesn't have any photo proof, but he's got some anonymously sourced details that might find purchase in your fertile imaginations.
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