Feels kind of like a long time ago now, huh? (Kevork Djansezian/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: SB Nation. On the occasion of Dwight Howard's much-publicized return to Central Florida on Tuesday night, the great Tom Ziller revisits the four-way deal that sent Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers in search of clarity and revelation. The takeaway? "If there's one indisputable lesson from the Dwight Howard trade, it's that nothing is indisputable."
PF: Vantage Sports. The pick-and-roll is a staple of NBA offenses, but not all NBA defenses defend the screen game the same way — some teams choose to switch screens, some choose to double-team in an attempt to trap the ball-handler and others prefer to have the screen-setter's defender offer some help before quickly recovering to his own man. Which teams employ which strategy most, and which ones are most (and least) successful in doing so? Jordan Kahn digs into a two-year data set to try to get a clearer picture of how NBA teams handle pick-and-roll defense.
SF: NBA.com's Hang Time. With the end of the regular season just over a month away and playoff seeding races in full swing, John Schuhmann takes a look at how the postseason contenders in each conference — the top eight in the East and the top nine in the West — have fared on both sides of the ball when matched up against in-conference playoff-caliber opposition. Big up yourselves, Denver Nuggets; avert your eyes, Los Angeles Lakers.
SG: Wages of Wins Journal. As I wrote about several times during and after this year's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, STATS' SportVU system — which positions six special cameras above the court in an NBA arena to capture all sorts of information about the movement and positioning of the players, referees and ball 25 times per second throughout an NBA game — is an emerging technology for NBA scouting and analysis, but there are still 15 teams that have declined to shell out the reported $75,000 to $100,000 per year to get on board. Devin Dignam frames the expense in a fun way reminiscent of a television infomercial — for the cost of just one Jannero Pargo, you could get 1.7 years of optical tracking data. What a bargain!
PG: By the Horns. Inspired by posts on TrueHoop and HoopSpeak by Beckley Mason highlighted in Monday's 10-man, Matt McHale takes a look at how each of the league's 10 best offenses rank in the categories of pace, transition scoring, at-the-rim shots and 3-point attempts ... and how far off the Chicago Bulls are from the upper echelon.
6th: The Gothic Ginobili. Aaron McGuire handicaps the four-way (and perhaps six-way) dance for the final three playoff slots in the Western Conference, balancing remaining schedules and present form with an eye toward which lower-tier West squad's got the best shot at snagging the No. 6 seed.
7th: Hickory High. Our pals at this great blog would like your participation in a very important analytical survey about which four NBA players you'd like to invite to your science fiction book club. Participate!
8th: Waiting for Next Year. After learning that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving will spend the next three to four weeks (at least) on the shelf with a sprained left shoulder, Scott Sargent and many other Cleveland Cavaliers fans are hoping that the 2011 No. 1 overall pick spends a lot of time in the weight room this summer.
9th: Grantland. The Utah Jazz surprised a lot of NBA observers by standing pat at the Feb. 21 trade deadline rather than moving one (or more) of their multiple veterans on expiring contracts, like frontcourt starters Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. The often curious decision-making in Utah — in the front office, on the sideline and on the floor — has made the Jazz, against all odds, the most fascinating team in the NBA, according to Zach Lowe.
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