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: Punch-Drunk Wolves. I share this consideration of the relationship between Rick Adelman and Drazen Petrovic during their brief shared time with the Portland Trail Blazers two decades ago for two reasons. For one thing, I like thinking about Drazen Petrovic, who could do stuff like this and died way, way too young.
For another, though, it raises a really interesting question: Did Adelman's failure to recognize and utilize Petrovic's skills in Portland — which, while understandable given the talent-packed backcourt of those late '80s/early '90s Blazers teams, still seems like a waste of what instantly became an All-NBA-caliber player — spur him to open his mind to what foreign talents could accomplish in the NBA? Maybe not, but given how welcoming and innovative he's been with the international players he's coached with the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and now the Minnesota Timberwolves, it's interesting food for thought.
PF: Silver Screen and Roll. How does a team with the league's sixth-most efficient offense and a just-south-of-middle-of-the-pack defense wind up a game under .500, three games worse than their statistically "expected" win-loss record and vacillating so wildly from world-beating to woeful? C.A. Clark's got a great read on the Los Angeles Lakers' maddeningly consistent inconsistency.
SF: The New York Times. With Deron Williams and his Brooklyn Nets mired in some serious struggles, interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo says he talked to his point guard and "I told him exactly what I needed him to be. I needed him to be Deron Williams." Howard Beck explains why that's not so simple these days.
SG: Sportsnet.ca. Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo tells a Toronto radio station that much-maligned and injured power forward Andrea Bargnani has been misunderstood by fans and media in the city. Said fans and media would like to thank both Colangelo and Bargnani for nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all.
PG: The Classical. The excellent "Why We Watch" series continues apace, with Jim Cavan of Knickerblogger picking through the complicated on-court/off-court legacies of Jason Kidd, trying to find some through-line for someone who's been so fundamentally locked-in and capable of multifaceted, evolving brilliance as a player, and yet repeatedly made (or allegedly made) the kind of poor life decisions that have left his persona haunted by "transgressive ghosts" for years. It's a difficult bit to parse, but it's an interesting trip well-directed by Cavan.
6th: The Basketball Jones. Come Saturday, NBA teams can begin signing players to 10-day contracts. Are there any readily available, high-performing players in the D-League who could help your favorite team? The great Mark Deeks identifies some players who could be worth an extended look in the big show this winter.
7th: Daily Thunder. Russell Westbrook's been excellent for the 24-6 Oklahoma City Thunder this year, assisting at a career-high rate while turning the ball over less often than at any point in his five-year career and turning in the league's 11th-best Player Efficiency Rating, but his field-goal percentage has fallen off from nearly 46 percent last year to just over 40 percent thus far this season. Ace Thunder blogger Royce Young takes a closer look at Westbrook's jumper to see if he can't diagnose the problem with his midrange accuracy.
8th: Sports Interactive Network Philippines. A well-known Filipino player agent is reportedly "moving heaven and earth to bring" free-agent big man Kenyon Martin to the Philippine Basketball Association, which — if it actually happens — could take an intriguing potential second-half signing off the board for contenders in need of frontcourt help.
9th: The Point Forward. Our pal Rob Mahoney rings in the new year by highlighting a dozen of the league's most improved players thus far this season. A feel-good read all the way around.
10th: D.C. Sports Bog. In a Washington-area radio interview, Stan Van Gundy offers a sobering assessment of the 4-25 Washington Wizards' roster: "There’s certainly nobody on that roster now you can build around," including still-injured-and-unavailable top 2010 draft pick John Wall.
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