The Starting 5 | LeBron James is somehow getting better

Dec 6, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) makes a three-point basket late in the fourth quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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

1. LeBron is getting better – Kyle Wagner, FiveThirtyEight

As LeBron James ages, he’s relying more on skill and less on being the greatest natural athlete the sport has ever seen. Improving his 3-point shot has opened up all kinds of other aspects to his game, both inside the restricted area and between the semi-circles. He’s creating points for his teammates as well as he ever has and seeing the game at another level. Wagner probes the numbers to unveil how LeBron is aging well.

2. How Bill Walton, Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr shaped Luke Walton – Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN

Luke Walton has the privilege of being shaped by three of the more cerebral minds in NBA history: Bill Walton (his dad), Phil Jackson (whom he played for), and Steve Kerr (whom he coached under). Each of those men have helped shape Walton into the coach he is. Youngmisuk talks with Walton and those around him to discover what sort of impact each has had, from learning the importance of meditating to communicating with his players.

3. The Jazz have found their offensive rhythm – Ben Lander, The Step Back 

If you haven’t watched the Jazz lately, you probably aren’t aware of the impressive roll they’ve developed on offense. There is no one player erupting to make things happen– the schemes involve constant player and ball movement, perpetually leaving defenses unsettled. Utah isn’t playing with “pace” in the traditional sense, but there is a similarity. The idea of pushing tempo is to attack the basket before defenses get settled. In a sense, what Utah is doing is pushing the pace in the half court.

4. All The Small Things: How Taj Gibson Fits In With the Minnesota Timberwolves – Devin Domino, Hashtag Basketball

When he’s not taking full-court shots, Taj Gibson is quietly having a very good season for the Minnesota Timberwolves with efficient scoring, rebounding on both sides of the court, and doing the all-around glue guy, hard hat, lunch pail things he’s always done but don’t show up in box scores. As a result, he’s been the Wolves’ best plus-minus player this season. Domino breaks down how he’s quietly helping.

5. Chris Paul’s presence is pushing Rockets 3-point shooting to new levels – Max Croes, The Dream Shake

Hot takes on Chris Paul not fitting with the Houston Rockets’ offense are aging very badly. The Rockets’ offense has been historically great, and it’s been even better since Paul returned from his injury. One reason for that is the way he’s setting up the offense and 3-point shooters. The team has gone from 34.0 percent from deep before Paul to 42.1 percent after CP3’s arrival.  Other teams might start seeing this as a sign of the aPaulcalypse. (I’ll show myself out on that one.)

 — 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.

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