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: Hardwood Paroxysm. Great, detailed work from Jack Winter on how the return of Ryan Anderson has unlocked the New Orleans Pelicans offense, how his impact spreads far beyond his own box-score contributions and how "the all-encompassing effects of high-volume, high-accuracy shooters align perfectly with those of their pick-and-roll busting, rim-protecting defensive counterparts."
PF: Canis Hoopus. The return of Kevin Love and the addition of Kevin Martin has bumped the Minnesota Timberwolves up the points-per-possession ranks, but they're still not shooting especially well and they're still allowing a far higher effective field-goal percentage than they're producing. What gives, what needs to improve, and what's the likelihood that it actually will?
SF: The Point Forward. Rob Mahoney looks at NBA players' shot charts and tells us what he sees. Not in an analytical sense; in a straight-up Rorschach test sense. ("Warning: Things are gonna get a little weird in here.") This is great, except that Rob thinks Zach Randolph's shot chart looks like "a big ol’ crab claw," which is wrong, because I'm pretty sure it's actually my wife's father casting a stern, disappointed gaze at me because I didn't carve the turkey "his way" at Thanksgiving, which, whatever, this turkey's dry anyway and you know what, forget it, I don't even care, this therapy session is OVER.
SG: Red94 and TrueHoop. A pair of good Houston Rockets reads: Michael Pina on the predictably dynamite James Harden-Dwight Howard pick-and-roll combination that the Rockets don't use nearly enough, and Kevin Arnovitz offers an offense/defense scouting report on the Harden-Howard-Chandler Parsons-Terrence Jones-Patrick Beverley starting five that's tearing up the league on both ends of the floor. Jones' success at the four in that lineup might mean the Rockets don't have to go nuts looking for a starting power forward in any Omer Asik deal; as Grantland's Zach Lowe writes, the shape and nature of that deal, which will reportedly be done by hook or by crook in a week, remain unclear, fascinating and potentially title-race-changing.
PG: Regressing. A good look, using the NBA's new SportVU player tracking data, at the relationship between how many touches NBA teams average on an offensive possession and how many points they produce per possession. Does more ball movement mean a more efficient/effective offense? Not necessarily. (And speaking of SportVU, I loved NBA.comthis tape/numbers breakdown of the impact Roy Hibbert had in protecting the front of the rim during the Indiana Pacers' big win over the Miami Heat earlier this week, even without posting gaudy blocked-shots numbers.)
6th: BSports. Jared Dubin on the consistency of Tom Thibodeau's strong side overload defense, which continues to keep the Chicago Bulls afloat despite the rash of injuries that have submarined its offense. He also touches on how that particular scheme has proved especially effective in stopping Carmelo Anthony over the years, which dovetails with a point Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal makes about the New York Knicks' damaging over-reliance on ineffective isolation play late in games.
7th: SB Nation. Coach and skill development trainer Doug Eberhardt brings us inside the world of "ATO" design — the plays coaches draw up for use after timeouts — and shares an example of one such killer set executed this week by the Portland Trail Blazers.
8th: Pounding the Rock. Alex Dewey of Gothic Ginobili on how much nonsensical fun it is to watch Boris Diaw successfully play basketball for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013: "He has the most loping, child's-first-dribble, bouncing-up-to-his-belly penetration game of virtually any professional basketball player, and yet it works. It works. I just can't fathom how, but it works."
9th: 8 Points, 9 Seconds. Scott Stewart on the major role Luis Scola is playing for the 19-3, East-leading Pacers: "He may not lead the league in bench scoring or become Sixth Man of the Year, but he’s doing everything he should be, and could be, when coming in to relieve the starters on one of the most talented Pacers’ teams of all time."
10th: Waiting for Next Year and Fear the Sword. Kirk Lammers breaks down some of the sound defensive work that helped fuel the Cleveland Cavaliers' win over the Los Angeles Clippers, and David Zavac considers Tristan Thompson's role as the Cavs' bellwether: "The Cavaliers are 8-7 when Thompson plays at least 30 minutes [...] They haven't won a game when Thompson doesn't reach 30 minutes."
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