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: 48 Minutes of Hell. Outlet passes matter, especially in triggering the San Antonio Spurs' uptempo offense, and Tim Duncan's quite good at throwing them. Just one problem: Boring fundamental + "boring" player = not necessarily interesting to watch. The answer, as always: Keith Sweat.
PF: Deadspin. NBA TV's "Hardwood Classics" series is making its way to the Apple-friendly mobile device of your choice, as the association has begun making classic games from years gone by available for purchase on iTunes. There are 10 games now on sale, including the NBA debuts of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and "Pistol" Pete Maravich, several Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers NBA Finals tilts and a pair of legendary Michael Jordan performances; we hope many more are made available very soon.
SF: Wall Street Journal. When discussing Carmelo Anthony's career season for the New York Knicks, many cite his increased willingness to move the ball and facilitate this year. But according to SportVU optical tracking data provided to Chris Herring, that's not really true — the big difference is how often Melo's firing on catch-and-shoot opportunities rather than pounding the rock, and how accurate he's been in doing so.
SG: Grantland. Now that every team's hit the midway point of the NBA season, Kirk Goldsberry's taking a look at his awesome spatial analytics data — which plot out where on the court NBA players take and make shots, telling us which players and shots are most (and least) successful from which areas — to see which players have been the best shooters from different parts of the floor this year. A couple of names won't surprise you, but at least one likely will.
PG: The Classical. "Smush Parker actually changed the course of human history and inadvertently prevented the collapse of Western Civilization [...] This happened, appropriately enough, in Greece, the very cradle of Western Civilzation itself." And thus begins Flinder Boyd's amazing story of economic meltdowns, the hyperdrive pride and prejudices associated with European fandom, and the alternating control and chaos inherent in a game where an out-of-shape ex-NBA player holds the fates of millions in his hands. Such a fun read.
6th: Green Street. Amid swirling trade talk following the torn right ACL that ended Rajon Rondo's season and revealed harsh new realities for the Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce makes his preference clear: "I want to retire as a Celtic."
7th: ESPN.com Insider. Basketball Prospectus' Bradford Doolittle unveils a new system for attempting to measure individual perimeter defense, long one of the most-difficult-to-quantify skills in the NBA game, and uses it to identify this season's top 10 perimeter stoppers to date. For the most part, it passes the smell test ... with one very notable and surprising exception.
8th: CBSSports.com. Nearly three weeks ago, Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein told us that long-injured former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden is planning to stage a comeback next season, with the Miami Heat, in particular, keeping a close eye on his progress. One week later, Ken Berger told us that the Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were also monitoring Oden's work. Now, Berger's colleague Jeff Goodman reports that the Heat and Cavs "have emerged as the leaders" to land Oden's services. We'll hold off on making grand pronouncements until something firm pops up; for right now, let's just allow ourselves to think about how fun it'd be if Oden came back healthy enough to run up and down the court for a few minutes again.
9th: Heat.com. On the surface, Dwyane Wade's offensive output over the past four seasons (about 24 points per game on 50-30-76 percent shooting splits) looks a lot like his output in his first six (about 25 per on 48-29-77 percent shooting). But the way he's actually getting his buckets these days is very different from the way he used to, a change due in part to changes in the Heat's personnel and offensive scheme under Erik Spoelstra, but also owing to Wade's own personal evolution. Danny Martinez breaks down Wade's shift.
10th: HoopChalk. While relatively little about the Los Angeles Lakers has been consistent this year, Jacob Frankel takes a closer look at one thing that has been reliable of late mdash; their ability to create multiple options for generating good looks out of Horns sets with their primary personnel.
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