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: The Columbian. On the occasion of Damian Lillard's return to the Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, Candace Buckner takes stock of what the Oakland-born point guard, hell-bent for Rookie of the Year and angling the Portland Trail Blazers toward a surprising playoff berth, learned from his hometown. It's a story about inspiration and perseverance and carrying bricks. This story explains why Lillard is fearless, and it's a brilliant piece of sports journalism offered by Candace Buckner, a reporter we're lucky to have working our beat.
PF: ESPN Boston. Chris Forsberg details the May-December bromance between Boston Celtics rookie Jared Sullinger and veteran Kevin Garnett in a story in which KG says of Sully, "He's a guy you want your daughter to bring home." We're guessing that Garnett hasn't yet taught Sullinger to allegedly say allegedly unspeakable things about his daughter, then, allegedly.
SF: BuzzFeed Sports. Counting down the 11 most difficult-to-explain-or-defend lottery picks of the 2000s. There is an animated GIF in here that is worth the price of admission, no matter what team you support.
SG: Chicago Tribune. Rip Hamilton talks NBA mortality with K.C. Johnson: "I can play until I'm 40; I know that. But I'm not going to kill myself trying to do that. When I'm done, I'm done." This is the last fully guaranteed year of Hamilton's contract with the Chicago Bulls; Windy City partisans are sure hoping he's got some more made jumpers in the hopper before that "done" date hits.
PG: Bullets Forever. With John Wall cleared to make his season debut on Saturday, Jordan Kahn takes a look at one specific way the point guard's long-awaited return could bolster the WIzards' moribund offense — by creating more, and better, looks at corner 3-pointers.
6th: ProBasketballTalk. Considering contract and production, who are the most valuable players in the NBA today? D.J. Foster's got his five, and we're guessing you might be surprised at the names on the list.
7th: The Brooklyn Game. We often hear that interim coaches who replace predecessors fired during the regular season, as P.J. Carlesimo did Avery Johnson with the Brooklyn Nets, produce (or, depending on your perspective, benefit from) a so-called "coaching bump" inherent with a team changing leaders midstream. How legitimate is that alleged benefit? Will Rausch looks at recent coaching changes in search of contemporary answers.
8th: NBA.com's Hang Time Blog. As a national television audience saw on Thursday night, the Indiana Pacers play slower, uglier, lower-scoring games than any team in years, and John Schuhmann can prove it.
9th: The National Post. Has Toronto Raptors big man earned himself millions of dollars this season? Eric Koreen thinks so, and I think he's right.
10th: Magic Basketball. Neck-deep in a difficult-to-parse season for the Orlando Magic — are we tanking? are we building? are we hanging onto veterans? are we looking toward the future — Nate Drexler identifies the one thing he thinks he can hang his hat on: Andrew Nicholson needs some more friggin' minutes.
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