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.
PF: Cowbell Kingdom, twice. A pair of good reads on Sacramento Kings rookie Ben McLemore, who might be bouncing back a bit after slamming into the rookie wall, and who might find a template for a future successful version of himself in the person of Most Improved Player candidate Gerald Green. (Here’s hoping it doesn’t take McLemore nearly a decade to get there, though.)
SF: Valley of the Suns. After wildly outperforming expectations throughout this 2013-14 season, the Phoenix Suns are reeling, having lost three straight to fall two games back of the Memphis Grizzlies (who own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Suns) for the eighth seed in the triple-tough Western Conference. Beyond that, All-Star-caliber point guard Goran Dragic, who has done yeoman’s work in carrying the Suns’ offense all season long, sounds like he’s starting to break down: “‘Yes, [this is the worst pain I’ve felt this late in a season],’ said Dragic, who also had his midsection wrapped in ice packs. ‘Everything hurts.'”
SG: Sports Illustrated. Chris Mannix and Drew Lawrence talk 2013 draftees, with the former writing on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise from unpronounceable afterthought to cult sensation, and the latter writing on Anthony Bennett’s slide from No. 1 overall pick to jeer-inducing bust, which preceded a short-lived resurgence curbed by a potentially season-ending knee injury.
PG: The Hook. Tom Ziller on “the saddest must-watch drama ever” — whether the Philadelphia 76ers will win another game this season or set a new NBA record for consecutive losses.
6th: The 700 Level. In the midst of all this losing, Andrew Unterberger decides to look backward to the similarly abysmal 1995-96 Sixers, revisiting the beginning of Jerry Stackhouse’s career, the end of Shawn Bradley’s time in Philadelphia and more, and wondering whether any lessons can be learned from the franchise’s last such abject exposure to defeat.
7th: Bleacher Report and GQ. Howard Beck sketches out what role Phil Jackson might play if he ever winds up officially joining the New York Knicks, and Bethlehem Shoals on why Phil-to-the-Knicks is simultaneously a perfectly timed move for both sides and one that nobody really seems to believe will make any actual difference.
10th: Heat Index. Are the errors that have helped spark the Miami Heat’s recent slide simply a result of the coin sometimes landing on tails four times in five games against good competition, or might it have something to do with the accumulated effect of three straight NBA Finals trips finally catching up with Erik Spoelstra’s squad in the form of late-game fatigue? (Or, as Hot Hot Hoops’ Isaac Koppel suggests, is it once again much ado about nothing?)
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