The Starting 5: Dirk Nowitzki applies pressure

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet

1. What does Dirk Nowitzki’s opt-out say about the Mavericks’ past — and future? – Mavs Moneyball staff

Dirk Nowitzki made a surprising power move by announcing his plans to opt out and meet with the Mavericks about their offseason plans this summer. The Mavs Moneyball writers get ultra-rational about the aging star’s deviation from his typical “awe, shucks” approach, noting that the organization has earned whatever pressure he puts on them thanks to perennial roster-building failures. They do (understandably) lose a little bit of their objectivity when forced to imagine Nowitzki on a different team, though.

2. NBA’s First Round Needs a Change – Ross Benes, Sports on Earth

I’ve missed the five-game opening-round version of the NBA Playoffs for a while, and this year’s slew of non-competitive series made me long harder. Benes shows how the 2016 Playoffs opened with the most lopsided and un-entertaining first round ever, exploring ways to avoid more longer dud matchups in the future. Sadly, there’s no way around playoff revenue, but Benes relays an idea that aims to compromise between ticket sales and unwatchable series.

3. Hoops Rumors Glossary: Non-Bird Rights – Chuck Myron, Hoops Rumors

The NBA’s CBA is a complicated document, but an important one to navigate for fans trying to grasp realistic scenarios for their team’s future. Hoops Rumors specializes in sifting through the rumor mill to present the best sources and transactional knowledge. Here, Myron breaks down the Non-Bird exception (not to be confused with Bird Rights or Early Bird rights) and notes what kind of players the exception could be used on by teams this summer.

4. And The NBA Rookie Of The Year Award Goes To… – Peloton Karhu, The Cauldron

Karl-Anthony Towns has the Rookie of the Year award locked up, but Karhu argues that Nikola Jokic is actually the more deserving candidate. Jokic flew under the radar in Denver for most of the year, despite having easily the most polish as a passer and defender in his class. Towns was wonderful, but Karhu does some heavy lifting to show that Jokic’s impact on the court was measurably better than Towns’ (and gives readers a bonus primer on Win Generation Rate). Even if you’re not persuaded, it doesn’t hurt to take note of a lower-profile young player tearing up the league.

5. The Most Memorable Blown Calls In NBA Playoff History – Matthew Rothstein, Uproxx

In honor of the truly zany finish that was Spurs/Thunder Game 2, Rothstein catalogs some more shenanigans that have tortured fans of NBA playoff teams over the years. You won’t be shocked to see Joey Crawford featured on the list, nor will you be surprised to find an egregious no-call from the Lakers/Kings 2002 Western Conference Finals (*cough* Tim Donaghy *cough*). Fair warning: if you’ve rooted for a team on the receiving end of an officiating injustice on the biggest stage, this article might make you stick to your stomach.

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