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: Rufus on Fire. Ben Swanson comes in praise of Al Jefferson, the left-block landlord who has spent the better part of the last two months serving opponents eviction notices — he's averaging 26.4 points and 11 rebounds in 35.6 minutes per game over his last 24 outings, shooting 54.4 percent from the floor, and turning the Charlotte Bobcats' long-historically-awful offense into something more closely approximating a near-middle-of-the-pack unit. His three-year deal might still prove to be a bit rich for services rendered in the final analysis, but in the here and now, he's been absolutely sensational, and he's helped Steve Clifford's crew look like an honest to God NBA team for the first time in years. It's been awesome to watch (on the nights when we watch the Bobcats, anyhow).
PF: Posting and Toasting. In which friend of the program Seth Rosenthal wonders if the New York Knicks think Carmelo Anthony is a big dumb baby, a point explained smartly and with nuance, despite what you might expect given the initial thesis.
SF: ProBasketballTalk. Dan Feldman delves into the Golden State Warriors' historic and quiet turnaround into a defense-first team that more often wins games by grinding opposing offenses to dust than by beating them in shootouts.
SG: Hang Time, twice. John Schuhmann's multi-part deep dive into SportVU pick-and-roll data turns its attention to defense, highlighting the Indiana Pacers' remarkable Paul George-and-Roy Hibbert-led unit and wondering why LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers' D rates so poorly.
PG: ESPN Los Angeles. Ramona Shelburne on the underlying and overwhelming whateverness that created the opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to get historically smoked on Thursday: "The Lakers are a team because that’s what you call a group of guys who wear the same jersey and compete in games together. But this is no team. It’s a group of nice guys trying to make the best of an awful situation."
6th: The Washington Post, First Draft by Kevin Broom and Bullets Forever. Mike Wise thinks Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld has saved his job by finally putting together a playoff team. Kevin Broom thinks Wise is probably right about that, but is wrong about almost everything else in his column. Mike Prada thinks the big Grunfeld question isn't whether a playoff berth should be enough to bring him back, but rather whether Grunfeld's the man to take the (somewhat limited) future resources available to the Wizards and build upon merely making the postseason.
7th: The Point Forward. With LeBron James and Kevin Durant now in a six-week sprint for the NBA's 2013-14 Most Valuable Player award, Rob Mahoney looks back at the five closest MVP races of the past 25 years, revisiting a great many excellent players and individual seasons in the process.
8th: The Triangle. Kirk Goldsberry on Blake Griffin's move from the baseline to the elbows, and from "best above-the-rim post player in the NBA" to "most prolific interior scorer in the league."
9th: Regressing. Kyle Wagner on what he learned at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: "It's fitting, and perhaps a little cruel, then, that the most useful thought to come out of a marquee panel is the reminder that it's important to know what you don't know."
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