The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
Elfrid Payton struggled in his first two seasons in the NBA, but in his third season with the Orlando Magic, Payton is showing signs of becoming a player the Magic can plan to build around in the immediate future. Payton has improved in almost every significant category, but at 22 years old, his stat line closely resembles Michael Carter-Williams, a player who hasn’t rediscovered that spark since winning Rookie of the Year.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has transformed from somewhat of a basketball cult hero to a legitimate franchise superstar, and is now leading the Milwaukee Bucks to what will almost certainly be a playoff appearance after missing last season. At 21 years old, there is no player in the league with his combination of upside and track record, and now he’s put the Bucks on his back without Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton for large portions of this season.
The New Orleans Pelicans might not have the most complete of rosters, but one area they are flush with talent is in the frontcourt with Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and possibly Cheick Diallo. Diallo is in his rookie season and has been tearing through the D-League much like Clint Capela did before his rise for the Houston Rockets. The Pelicans still have some work to do to become a contender, but it appears they’ve found a diamond in the rough in Diallo.
D’Angelo Russell is supposed to be the point guard of the future for the Los Angeles Lakers, but his struggles with consistency have kept him from developing as quickly as some would have hoped thus far in Los Angeles. As a 21-year-old on a rebuilding team, Russell is having trouble with his efficiency (52.0 percent true shooting) and his turnovers (3.4 per 36 minutes), something that young players often struggle with. There is still plenty of time for Russell to turn things around, but the first two seasons haven’t gone as well as some Lakers fans have hoped.
Derrick Rose suffered another knee injury that will force him to miss the rest of the 2016-17 season, and with his season now completed, Drew Steele evaluates his season. Nothing is a mystery with Rose; he is still incredibly useful as a driver, and his mid-range shooting is still one of his better skills. Unfortunately, the other areas where he has a positive impact are difficult to find. He is a poor passer — and for someone who holds the ball as long as he does, this is an issue — his defense is subpar, and while his mid-range shooting is adequate, his shooting from 3 is among the worst in the league for guards. The New York Knicks now have a decision to make regarding Rose’s future, as he is a free agent this summer, and the team’s future could be greatly impacted with whatever decision they make.