The Starting 5: A look at some of the best NBA content around the internet
1. The charcuterie board that revolutionized basketball – Baxter Holmes, ESPN
How much of the Golden State Warriors’ success has to do with Steve Kerr? How much of it has to do with unprecedented talent? This didn’t just happen by chance. The vision was transferred from the coach’s head to the basketball court. Holmes goes through the history of the Warriors since Kerr arrived, explaining how Kerr developed the offense and coaxed his team into running it.
2. Isaiah Thomas: Best year of my career, worst year of my life – Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated
Isaiah Thomas led the Eastern Conference in scoring last year. He was named an All-Star for the second-straight season. He led the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also lost his sister in a car accident, suffered what may turn out to be a career-changing injury, and was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jenkins’ profile and interview with Thomas wonderfully elucidate what a paradoxical year it was for the NBA’s biggest little man.
3. Paul George feeling right at home with the NBA’s most compelling team – Chris Mannix, The Vertical
The key to making the newest “Big Three” work isn’t Carmelo Anthony or Russell Westbrook; it’s Paul George, who is the best defender of the three and the most versatile scorer. The fit has been clunky at times, but the Oklahoma City Thunder believe that with time, they’ll work things out.
As George tells Mannix, “We know we can be special. That’s a given. It’s about how we can get to that point and progress. It’s a take-it-slow type of deal right now.”
4. How the Trail Blazers make flare screens unstoppable – Jeff Siegel, The Step Back
Siegel explains what a flare screen is: “Flare Spain” combines two of the more recently popular actions NBA teams are running: the flare screen and the Spain pick-and-roll, popularized by — you guessed it — the Spanish national team. A big man sets a ball screen for the point guard on the perimeter, but in the Spain pick-and-roll, a wing is also involved, setting a back screen on the big man’s defender and forcing perfect communication among the three defenders involved to cover all the options. Then he shows how the Trail Blazers run it so effectively.
5. Denver Nuggets need to get easy stops – Ian Levy, The Step Back
Levy details how the Denver Nuggets gave up as many points per possession after made baskets as other teams gave up after missed baskets last year. That’s really bad, and it’s why the Nuggets defense was really bad. Defense is supposed to be easier to set up after a made basket. The opponent has to take the ball out and bring it up the court while all you have to do is get back and get set. Levy explains why that is, and what the Nuggets can do this year to improve in that area.
— Thanks as always to Basketball Intelligence, which has been an invaluable resource in this article. Follow and subscribe, and you’ll be glad you did.