Hoops Links

Sports Bloggers, Hoops Links Are Back

After a short hiatus during the opening weeks of free agency, our weekly Hoops Links series is finally returning. Expect the next installment this Thursday.

Now that the dust has started to settle on a wild offseason and we don’t have to worry about our writers getting distracted by pesky Paul George trades, we can all get back to focusing on what really matters: scouring the internet for funny analogies that bloggers have come up with.

Every week, we collect all of the best original content we find throughout the blogosphere and shine a spotlight on it here. It doesn’t matter if it’s serious or light-hearted, if it’s a comprehensive oral history about a key moment in NBA history or an open letter to Greg Oden’s former neck beard. If it’s an engaging, original story, it deserves to be shared.

To be included in Hoops Links Vol. 11, submit your best links to Austin Kent over Twitter (@AustinKent). You may or may not bribe him with rare images of Shareef Abdur-Rahim but be forewarned that such nefarious appeals to nostalgia are only 85% effective.

Take a look back at the highlights from the 2016/17 season:

Hoops Links Vol. 1: Unpopular Raptors, Kobe GIFs, More
Hoops Links Vol. 2: The Next MJ, McGee’s Reign, More
Hoops Links Vol. 3: Traditional Big Men, Puppies, More
Hoops Links Vol. 4: Conspiracy Theories, Broken Mechanics, More
Hoops Links Vol. 5: Shirley Temple Lies, Milkshake Theft, More
Hoops Links Vol. 6: Coleman Flashbacks, Biedrins Flashbacks, More
Hoops Links Vol. 7: Fan Loyalty, International Coups, More
Hoops Links Vol. 8: Rick Carlisle Fan Fiction, Emojis, More
Hoops Links Vol. 9: Time Travel, North Korean Diplomacy, More
Hoops Links Vol. 10: The Process, The Godfather, More

Hoops Links Vol. 10: The Process, The Godfather, More

Tired of mock drafts yet? I didn’t think so. Still, it’s important to pace one’s self on a fine day such as this. Before the day is done there will be 60 new NBA players and half that many Woj bombs (we hope), so take a fleeting moment to read about the NBA landscape in general before zeroing in on obscure international sleeper picks and combine results.

To be featured in next week’s Hoops Links (where we prance about telling everybody on the internet why we love the NBA blogosphere so much), submit your favorite articles for nomination. Connect with Austin Kent on Twitter (@AustinKent) as our Thursday publication date approaches and tell us why you think your content deserves a shout out in this most heralded of link dumps.

Kyle Lowry verticalThe offseason is a trying time for sports fans as the balance between passion and rationality can be difficult to strike. For South of the 6ix, Adam Corsair used recent confusion surrounding Kyle Lowry and the Raptors as a telltale example of why fans should be leery of unsubstantiated rumors. Until a decision is made and deal is done, there are too many variables at play for fans to take things at face value all the time.

Author: Adam Corsair – @ACorsair21
Rating: 8 out of 10 Grains of Salt
Link: Kyle Lowry free agent rumors.

A pair of news reports that came out this week suggest that the Spurs could be considering a home run swing in free agency this summer, and Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock has broken down exactly what that might look like. The combination of Pau Gasol opting out and the club supposedly shopping Danny Green frees up cap space, and a few other moves could get the Spurs into a scenario where they could offer max money.

Author: Jesus Gomez – @JejeGomez_PtR
Rating: 8 out of 10 Pennies Pinched
Link: Spurs could make big free agent pitch.

Around this time five years ago, the Sixers swung a deal for Andrew Bynum. This, Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers writes, was the true start of “The Process.” In the years since, Sam Hinkie has come and gone, assets have come and gone, and now the franchise approaches the NBA Draft with more optimism than they’ve had since the Allen Iverson Era. Here’s a a celebratory reminder of all that Philly fans have been through and why it was worth it.

Author: Michael Levin – @Michael_Levin
Rating: 8 out of 10 Bowling Injuries
Link: The Process, in summary.

The Suns were wise to turn down an offer for DeAndre Jordan this week, but only because the price was too high. Given more reasonable terms, an acquisition of the three-time All-NBA big man could be wise. For Valley of the Suns, Lucas McLean breaks down scenarios in which Phoenix could make a play for the center and what that could mean.

Author: Lucas McLean – @LucasMcLean
Rating: 7 out of 10 Airplane Emojis
Link: DeAndre Jordan could fit with Suns.

Hockey fans saw an expansion draft unfold in Las Vegas last night, prompting Shameek Mohile of Piston Powered to think about what the Pistons might do in a similar situation. Notably unprotected throughout the hypothetical exercise were Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer, while the prioritization of those protected was telling in and of itself.

Author: Shameek Mohile – @ShamShammgod
Rating: 8 out of 10 Marc-Andre Fleury Knights Jerseys
Link: The Pistons in an expansion draft.

Nikola Pekovic verticalWhen the Timberwolves waived Nikola Pekovic this week it brought an official end to an era. In honor of the hulking big man, John Meyer of Canis Hoopus published a streamable video-filled recap of the Godfather’s NBA tenure. It wasn’t always graceful, but that doesn’t mean Pek’s stint in Minnesota didn’t have its fair share of highlights and laughs.

Author: John Meyer – @TheDailyWolf
Rating: 9 out of 10 Brandon Knight Body Slams
Link: Celebrating Nikola Pekovic’s career.

The Nets were wise to capitalize on their valuable cap space and land D’Angelo Russell, who has the sort of potential star power that Brooklyn’s roster lacked. Ti Windisch of The Step Back writes that the 2015 second overall pick will be given every opportunity to succeed with the new club, and that the organization finally appears to have a plan.

Author: Ti Windisch – @TiWindisch
Rating: 8 out of 10 Inappropriate Ravens
Link: D’Angelo Russell could thrive with Nets.

The staff at Mavs Moneyball is well aware that LeBron James could hit the open market next offseason and isn’t wasting any time brainstorming potential ways to lure the biggest of fish to the Mavs. Consider the plethora of “Dear LeBron James” letters penned by the blog and let us know which you think would be the most effective.

Author: Rebecca Lawson – @BeccaAfterSix
Rating: 8 out of 10 Elevator Pitches
Link: Mavericks writers recruit LeBron James.

I’ll admit, it’s easy to pile on the Warriors these days, but that doesn’t mean there’s any logic behind it. Count Ron Moskovitz of Golden State of Mind the latest to be offended by the lack of respect Stephen Curry gets from a significant portion of the basketball community. The scribe puts a Dave McMenamin tweet on blast while reminding us all that the back-to-back Warriors MVP is a genuine “bet-the-house franchise changing solo talent.” Y’know, he’s not wrong.

Author: Ron Moskovitz – @Hotspurrrr
Rating: 9 out of 10 Supervillains
Link: Steph Curry disrespected, again.

Until Paul George is formally traded away from the Pacers or he officially signs with the Lakers next summer, there will be a whirlwind of speculation about possible trade suitors. Minh Dao of Rip City Project has capitalized on the growing notion that the All-Star will be on the move sooner rather than later, making the case for the Trail Blazers as a viable option.

Author: Minh Dao – @BeyondTheArcBTA
Rating: 8 out of 10 ESPN Trade Machines
Link: Blazers should trade for Paul George

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Links Vol. 9: Time Travel, North Korean Diplomacy, More

We’re back with the latest edition of Hoops Links, one that will make you appreciate the joys of the NBA blogosphere as much as we do. Now, with the Finals in the rear-view mirror, celebrating good original content is as important as ever.

Once a week we round up the best content that we come across while obsessively perusing the internet and now you can help. Find a blog article that you think deserves a shout out next Thursday? Send it my way on Twitter (@AustinKent). Even if you wrote the blog yourself, nominate it for inclusion in future editions.

Remember, keep things limited to Cavaliers Era Shawn Kemp, relevant, original and fresh.

Isaiah Thomas Avery Bradley verticalThe Celtics have plenty of decisions to make over the course of the next few years, especially since their cap space projects to dry up after this offseason. Retaining their roster as is and signing a big name free agent in 2017 could put Boston in position to far exceed the luxury tax next season when it comes time to re-sign Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. Jason Sullivan of You’re Ducking Right recently broke down the pros and cons of retaining each guard, coming to the conclusion that the C’s will inevitably need to part with one if they want to build around Markelle Fultz.

Author: Jason Sullivan – @Sully6827
Rating: 9 out of 10 Sophie’s Choices
Link: Isaiah Thomas vs. Avery Bradley.

Much has been said about how an increasing reliance on three-point shooting has changed the game of basketball, but few have delved into what it takes to stop a successful team on the perimeter. Thomas Bassine of Big Three Sports went to work compiling the three-point percentages certain teams allowed compared to what one might reasonably expect those opposing percentages to be. The result? A statistical analysis of how teams are defending against the biggest trend in basketball.

Author: Thomas Bassine – @Big3Sports
Rating: 9 out of 10 Scatter Plots
Link: Three-point defense trends.

There’s a decent chance that Dennis Rodman‘s latest trip to North Korea will have a negligible impact on anything but perhaps the quarterly sales of bootlegged Bulls jerseys on the streets of Pyongyang, but that doesn’t change the fact that the retired forward is likely the only person alive that has personal relationships with both Donald Trump and Kim-Jong Un. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie summarizes the Washington Post’s reporting.

Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Rating: 7 out of 10 Mermaid Puzzles
Link: Dennis Rodman in North Korea, 2017.

It didn’t take long for the speculation about hypothetical Cavaliers trades to kick in following their loss in the NBA Finals. Sam Beech of the King James Gospel, however, insists that Cleveland should resist making a blockbuster trade. Forget Carmelo Anthony altogether and don’t rush out to trade Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving, Beech says, thwarting some of the most frequently discussed trade possibilities.

Author: Sam Beech – @KJG_NBA
Rating: 7 out of 10 Hasty Overreactions
Link: Cavs should not make blockbuster trade.

If you were simultaneously granted the abilities to go invisible and time travel, it’s presumed that you’d skip ahead to the day the free agency moratorium lifts in order to sneak through the journals of various general managers. I get it. Alas, for now at least, we’re stuck with David Nash’s thought exercise. For The Four Point Play, Nash imagines what the diaries of Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Thunder GM Sam Presti might look like after two vital 10-day stretches in each executive’s career.

Author: David Nash – @DKN17
Rating: 9 out of 10 Cringeworthy Drakes
Link: Sam Presti, Daryl Morey diaries.

Meyers Leonard verticalAfter last summer’s historically mediocre shopping spree, the Trail Blazers don’t have much cap space in 2017. Eric Griffiths of Blazer’s Edge, however, has some options that could create some breathing room for the franchise. Griffiths floats Pat Connaughton and Tim Quarterman as possible cuts with Meyers Leonard an intriguing salary dump option.

Author: Eric Griffiths – @EricG_NBA
Rating: 8 out of 10 Scroungers
Link: How Blazers can make cap space.

The Wizards haven’t had much success luring NBA superstars home to the D.C. area, most recently missing out on Kevin Durant last summer. Durant, a Washington native, didn’t even grant the franchise a meeting last offseason before taking his talents to Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. Ryan Eugene of Wiz of Awes, however, thinks the tide could be changing, citing recent comments from Will Barton and Greivis Vasquez about returning home.

Author: Ryan Eugene – @ButterScotchT
Rating: 8 out of 10 Google Searches For Beaches Near Oracle Arena
Link: Local players interested in playing for Wizards.

After spurring a chorus of speculation at the trade deadline by tweeting an emoji, Pistons big man Andre Drummond has done it all over again. Count Steve Hinson of Detroit Bad Boys among those frustrated that we may be in line for another barrage of social-media-fueled angst as the rumor mill surrounding possible transactions begins to fly.

Author: Steve Hinson – @Shinons8
Rating: 7 out of 10 Damn Millennials
Link: Andre Drummond’s emoji tweet.

While they’ve managed to turn themselves into a perennial playoff team and regular dark horse option to make noise in the west, make no mistake, the Clippers Curse is alive and well. Need a reminder of just how blech things have been for the franchise? Autumn Anderson of Clipperholics recently published a feature detailing just how much of an impact the Michael Olowokandi-era bad luck continues to have on the organization.

Author: Autumn Anderson – @AAAutumn_
Rating: 8 out of 10 Eric Piatkowski Jerseys
Link: The Clippers Curse is real.

The thought of Dwight Howard putting up jump shots from beyond the arc is naturally unsettling, but that’s exactly what the big man plans to do for the Hawks in order to prolong his career. Justin Hodges of Soaring Down South weighed in on some recent comments made by the traditional back-to-the-basket big man, suggesting that Howard no longer boasts the impressive interior defense to get away with being a one-trick pony.

Author: Justin Hodges – @HodgepodgeHoops
Rating: 8 out of 10 Ambitious Shooting Coaches
Link: Dwight Howard to add three-pointer.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Links Vol. 8: Rick Carlisle Fan Fiction, Emojis, More

We’re back with a fresh batch of the best content from around the NBA blogosphere. This is where we take a break from the typical news cycle to shine a light on original, entertaining content from bloggers just like you. Yes, you.

Be sure to nominate the best article you read this week (even if you wrote it yourself) by dropping me a line on Twitter (@AustinKent), emailing HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws or simply yelling into your router loud enough that it makes it all the way to Canada.

Thon Maker verticalIf hoops fans weren’t too busy trying to pinpoint the last remaining Thon Maker birth certificate joke that hasn’t been made yet, they’d have seen just how scary the 7’1″ Bucks rookie really was. In the playoffs in particular, Maker’s surprising fluidity and absurd length were on full display. In a full feature at Behind The Buck Pass, Paul Headley broke down just what makes the 20-year-old such a tantalizing piece of Milwaukee’s future.

Rating: 9 out 10 Stale Reddit Memes
Author: Paul Headley – @PaulHeadleyNBA
Link: Thon Maker’s future

While he may not be the biggest name, the Hawks landed a gem in new general manager Travis Schlenk. Jack O’Donnell of Soaring Down South recently rallied support for the new shot caller, citing Schlenk’s breadth of experience, including 12 years behind the scenes with the most dominant franchise in the league, most recently as the Warriors‘ assistant general manager.

Rating: 8 out of 10 More Agonizing Weeks of Paul Millsap Speculation
Author: Jack O’Donnell – @SoaringDwnSouth
Link: Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk

If what you’re looking for is an elaborate fan fiction account of Rick Carlisle‘s secret side mission as an espionage agent with a pilot’s license, you’ve come to the right place. Doyle Rader of Mavs Moneyball put together an explanation for why the Mavs head coach was really at Game 2 of the NBA Finals. (Can you tell these guys aren’t used to missing the playoffs?).

Rating: 8 out of 10 Long Offseasons
Author: Doyle Rader – @TheKobeBeef
Link: Why was Rick Carlisle at Game 2?

It would be unwise for the Nuggets to sign Danilo Gallinari to a max contract, Matthew Huff of Nugg Love says. The scoring forward doesn’t do enough on the defensive end, clogs Denver’s depth chart and would limit the team’s financial flexibility. At the right price, bringing the Rooster back could be worth exploring, but he figures to have plenty of suitors when free agency begins.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Next Chapters
Author: Matthew Huff – @Huff_Melo7
Link: Danilo Gallinari max contract

It’s no secret that Spencer Dinwiddie is a low-key guy and a natural when it comes to social media, but a recent feature published by Jorge Sierra over at HoopsHype raises the bar altogether. Read through a transcript of text messages Sierra and the Nets guard sent each other throughout Game 2 of the NBA Finals for a candid look into a conversation that ranged from GOATs to Iron Man.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Grown Adults Using Emojis
Author: Jorge Sierra – @HoopsHype
Link: Spencer Dinwiddie texting

Jayson Tatum verticalA quick look at Jayson Tatum‘s highlight reel reveals an eerie similarity to Paul Pierce, Adam Miller says at Hardwood Houdini. Miller collect video showcasing the forward’s skill set, including a heavily used mid-range game, but stops short of saying that the Duke product will go on to piece together a career as successful as the Celtics legend.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Dopplegangers
Author: Adam Miller – @AMillerSports
Link: Jayson Tatum, Paul Pierce similarities

Basketball fans have had a tough time processing Kevin Durant‘s decision to join the Warriors, but that wasn’t the case for one 16 Wins a Ring scribe. Dylan Hughes has heard all the flak that Durant has had to endure his first year in Golden State, but still elects to openly root for him anyway. Hughes may be right when he says that we shouldn’t hate on the guy for doing something that makes him happy… but we probably will anyway.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Lifelong Grudges
Author: Dylan Hughes – @16WinsARing
Link: Don’t hate on Kevin Durant

Are we overthinking the changes that we’ve seen in the NBA over the course of the past half decade? Ben McLemore suggests as much. In an interview with Kimani Okearah of Sactown Royalty, the veteran downplays the notion that the league is heading in a new direction. Come for the chance to get in a few low-hanging-fruit Kings jokes, stay for the original photography.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Triple Threats
Author: Kimani Okearah – @TheKimansta
Link: Ben McLemore interview

It seems likely that Zhou Qi will arrive with the Rockets next season so Darren Yuvan of The Dream Shake took a look at what that might entail. While it’s hard not to be intrigued by the 7’2″ prospect, it’s not clear whether he’ll have a big enough frame to make much of a difference at the next level.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Tall Men
Author: Darren Yuvan – @DarrenYuvan
Link: Zhou Qi Rockets 2017-18

With free agency right around the corner, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will get his fair share of attention. It’s about time, then, that we get a better understanding of the path that’s led him from Greenville, Georgia to the Pistons. David Ramil’s comprehensive long-read published at The Step Back will answer any questions you may have about the potential $20MM man.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Hometown Heroes
Author: David Ramil – @DRamil13
Link: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope biography

Hoops Links Vol. 7: Fan Loyalty, International Coups, More

After joyously celebrating Smush Parker‘s June 1 birthday, we’re back to honor the best NBA content from around the blogosphere a day later than typically scheduled. This week we shine a light on what’s going on the league in a 100% Warriors– and Cavaliers-free link dump.

If you have a feature you think deserves recognition, hit me up on Twitter this week (@AustinKent) or send your tips directly to Hoops Rumors at HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. Remember, the best submissions are almost always about Darko Milicic unique and entertaining.

Anthony Davis DeMarcus Cousins verticalThe Pelicans would be wise to bring in certified hard-ass Sam Mitchell to lead Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to new heights, Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes suggests. Mitchell has a reputation for being sharply outspoken and unafraid to challenge his most talented players. The connection to Kevin Garnett, Kosel adds, could further help the highly anticipated frontcourt duo improve in 2017/18.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Alleged Vince Carter Body Slams
Author: Oleh Kosel – @RedHopeful
Link: Sam Mitchell should coach the Pelicans

Findings from a recent Harvard study suggest that the Mavericks may have the most loyal fan base in the NBA. Per John Howe of Mavs Moneyball, the results don’t definitively put the organization on a pedestal but do reveal that attendance at the American Airlines Center across the last 15 seasons is the least dependent on winning percentage in the league. The club on the other end of the spectrum? According to the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective: the Clippers.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Promotional Mark Cuban Schemes
Author: John Howe – @JohnHowe_NBA
Link: NBA fan loyalty

It’s hard to get a good read on Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s potential and as a result it’s hard to gauge what sort of deal he might land in free agency. Xavier Cooper of Soaring Down South recently noted that the swingman has made strides over the course of the past few seasons, most recently with the Hawks, and appears as committed to improving as ever. One question remains, however: what is the streaky guard’s ceiling?

Rating: 7 out of 10 Run TMC Progeny
Author: Xavier Cooper – @XQuartezCooper
Link: Tim Hardaway Jr. improvement

When given the opportunity to play a meaningful role in the Raptors rotation, Lucas Nogueira showed that he was up to the task, providing many of the things that his predecessor Bismack Biyombo did during Toronto’s 2015/16 playoff run. The Serge Ibaka deal, however, bumped the 24-year-old down the organization’s depth chart and into a form of professional limbo. Count Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic among those high on the third-string center, but skeptical that he’ll see a bigger role in Toronto any time soon.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Unique Ways To Tuck In Your Jersey
Author: Blake Murphy – @BlakeMurphyODC
Link: Lucas Nogueira Raptors depth chart

Dwyane Wade verticalThe Bulls should start talking to Dwyane Wade about stepping into a sixth man role prior to his player option deadline later this month, Tyler Pleiss of Blog a Bull suggests. If Fred Hoiberg waits to have that conversation until after he commits, unnecessary friction could spill over into the 2017/18 campaign. Chicago, don’t forget, went on their late-season surge to the postseason with Wade on the sidelines altogether.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Awkward Conversations
Author: Tyler Pleiss – @Tyler_Pleiss
Link: Dwyane Wade sixth man role

The Lakers made a mistake signing Luol Deng to a four-year, $72MM contract last season and now the new executive regime in Los Angeles can try to fix it. In the eyes of Nick Ziegler of Lake Show Life, Deng’s presence only impedes Brandon Ingram‘s progress, and the veteran forward should be dealt even if it involves dangling other assets as bait in a possible salary dump.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Mulligans
Author: Nick Ziegler – @NickZiegler20
Link: Lakers should trade Luol Deng

There are plenty of ways to quantify Aron Baynes‘ impact on the Pistons, but skewing his value as free agency approaches are a lower-than-expected 2017/18 salary cap and the lackluster results of the reserves who signed big contracts last summer, Duncan Smith of Piston Powered writes. Baynes can pick up his player option to remain with the Pistons at $6.5MM or decline it and look for more on the open market.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Unfortunate Hairstyles
Author: Duncan Smith – @DuncanSmithNBA
Link: Pistons free agent Aron Baynes

The most underrated story line in the NBA this year is that of Enes Kanter and his relationship with Turkey. We’re not just talking about the recent passport cancellation either. On Thursday, Yaron Weitzman published a must-read Bleacher Report feature that breaks down the saga that has played out between the Thunder big man and his home country over the course of the past year.

Rating: 10 out of 10 Geopolitical Homework Assignments
Author: Yaron Weitzman – @YaronWeitzman
Link: Enes Kanter and Turkey

The Nets should make a push to land free agent Danilo Gallinari this offseason, Leo Mar of Nothin’ But Nets writes. Head coach Kenny Atkinson worked previously with the Italian forward during Gallinari’s rookie season back in 2008. More importantly, Mar adds, Gallinari’s offense would pair well with Brook Lopez‘s so long as he is able to stay reasonably healthy.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Roosters
Author: Leo Mar – @Leo_Mar8824
Link: Nets should sign Danilo Gallinari

Having agreed to part ways with the Heat, Chris Bosh will set his sights on suiting up for another NBA team in 2017/18. Kevin Haswell of Hot Hot Hoops, however, doesn’t think that the big man will find his way into a team’s lineup despite his established talent. Haswell cites a David Aldridge feature that gauged the interest league executives had in the free-agent-to-be.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Moral Dilemmas
Author: Kevin Haswell – @KevinRHaswell
Link: Will anybody sign Chris Bosh?

Hoops Links Vol. 6: Coleman Flashbacks, Biedrins Flashbacks, More

Welcome back to Hoops Links. Here we round up some of our favorite blog content that we come across over the course of the week. As always, we’d like to encourage writers to send us their best stuff for possible inclusion in future editions. Remember, what we’re looking for is unique, entertaining material that showcases why the internet is so gosh darn fun.

Send your best pieces to HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws or simply yell at me on Twitter (@AustinKent). Similarly, you can flag down any Hoops Rumors staffer at a grocery store and immediately hit them up with a choreographed dance routine explaining why your Jared Dudley hot take deserves top recognition in next week’s link dump.

Note: We typically publish Hoops Links on Thursday, but next week’s edition will be published on Friday (June 2). This will be a one-time change so that we can all observe Smush Parker‘s birthday privately with our families. We’ll slide back to Thursday for Hoops Links Vol. 7 on June 8.

Ben Simmons verticalThe skill set that Ben Simmons has shown and the college numbers he produced during his one year at LSU are on par with some of the greatest of our generation. Much of his success, however, will come down to circumstance. Can the Sixers ensure that Simmons is in a situation to live up to his potential? Or, as Kwame Fisher-Jones of the 76er Files cautions, is he destined to underachieve like similarly versatile former Sixers forward Derrick Coleman?

Rating: 8 out of 10 NBA Jam Legends
Author: Kwame Fisher-Jones – @MrJonesNBA
Link: Ben Simmons’ potential

When LeBron James clanged a wide open dunk off the back of the rim in Game 4 of the CavaliersCeltics series, it robbed Kevin Love of a potential Assist of the Year. Not surprisingly, Carter Rodriguez of Fear the Sword has put the wheels in motion to file a formal petition to credit the big man with a much deserved assist anyway. What even is an assist when you think about it, man?

Rating: 9 out of 10 They Have A Points…
Author: Carter Rodriguez – @Carter_Shade
Link: Kevin Love’s outlet assist

In a world where nearly everything that takes place on a basketball court is trackable, the one thing that experts can’t seem to quantify is the impact team chemistry has on success. Brian Freeman of Blazer’s Edge explored the gaps in our understanding of team chemistry and suggests what might play a role in successful organizations capitalizing on it.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Intangibles
Author: Brian Freeman – @BrianFreeman_NBA
Link: Team chemistry in the NBA

The Warriors are the team NBA fans love to hate. Eric He of Blue Man Hoop, however, thinks that everybody needs to slow down, quit hating and actually appreciate the franchise. Given Golden State’s role in revolutionizing the league, he does have a point. Can’t we just be happy for the organization less than five years removed from giving Andris Biedrins a standing ovation for hitting a pair of free throws?

Rating: 8 out of 10 Monta Ellis Scooters
Author: Eric He – @EricHeSports
Link: Appreciating the Golden State Warriors

If Chris Bosh is able to fully part ways from the Heat and work his way back onto a basketball court, the Clippers should take a look at him as a possible reserve big man, Blake Harris of Clipperholics writes. Though his health will always be the most important consideration, Bosh could very well be a major steal for whichever club takes a chance on him.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Mo Speights Replacements
Author: Blake Harris – @BlakeHHarris
Link: Chris Bosh and the Clippers

There’s no denying that Kemba Walker has stepped up as the greatest New Generation Hornets player, but is he wasting his prime toiling away in mediocrity? For Swarm and Sting, Elijah Edwards discusses the idea of letting the point guard pursue success elsewhere if the franchise isn’t able to surround him with the help he needs to compete.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Miles Plumlee Contracts
Author: Elijah Edwards
Link: Trading Kemba Walker

Gordon Hayward verticalWhen Gordon Hayward hits free agency this summer, he’ll do so as perhaps the most coveted, reasonably attainable option on the market. Evan Dyal of Sir Charles in Charge took a good long look at the five most likely destinations for Hayward, delving beyond simply the Celtics and Jazz, two clubs regarded as frontrunners for his services.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Professional StarCraft Circuits
Author: Evan Dyal – @EvanDyal
Link: Gordon Hayward free agency

After his first year at the helm, Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder showed that he’s a worthy starter with plenty of room to grow. Thomas Jenkins of Peachtree Hoops recently broke down what might be in store for the 23-year-old, suggesting that so long as Schroder continues to develop, the club’s future looks bright.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Blonde Patches
Author: Thomas Jenkins – @TJenkins122
Link: Dennis Schroder potential

Admit it, you knew that it wouldn’t be long before the thorough analysis would come regarding whether or not the Celtics truly need Isaiah Thomas. For Nylon Calculus, Ian Levy broke down the situation, including Boston’s improbable Game 3 victory and the squad’s all-around improvement on the defensive end of the ball when Thomas is sidelined. The C’s don’t need to oust Thomas any time soon but they could afford to spare him if the right opportunity arose.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Scatter Plots
Author: Ian Levy – @HickoryHigh
Link: The Celtics without Isaiah Thomas

Don’t expect the fourth pick in the NBA Draft to turn things around for the Suns, Valley of the Suns contributor Robert Neal writes. So how does the franchise, then, figure out where to go after a tanked season gone awry? Neal explores ways the Suns can tangibly improve their roster without relying on a rookie.

Rating: 7 out of 10 #FreeChriss Campaigns
Author: Robert Neal – @RobertN4110
Link: Phoenix Suns offseason

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Links Vol. 5: Shirley Temple Lies, Milkshake Theft, More

Welcome to the fifth installment of Hoops Links, where we round up our favorite content from around the NBA blogosphere and shine a light on it here. Every week we set out to feature entertaining, original content powered by the blogging community.

See your own piece plugged? Well done! Now share the love by spreading the word about Hoops Links – we’re talking favs, retweets, postcards to mom and everything in between. Help us build a bigger stage for your best work!

If you want to hit us up with a link in the future, make sure to drop me a line on Twitter (@AustinKent) or even just email HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. Remember, we want to be intrigued and captivated. It also helps if the content is relatively fresh (considering we publish on Thursdays).

Without further ado…

With a roster full of young players and a negligible chance of winning a meaningful amount of ball games, the Suns made the decision with months remaining in the season to tank unabashedly. After Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, in which Phoenix dropped from a projected No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed, Adam Maynes of Valley of the Suns wrote a spirited column suggesting that the organization got what it deserved.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Angry Earl Watsons
Author: Adam Maynes – @Adam4America
Link: Phoenix Suns tank fail

Joel Embiid verticalWe’re all happy to buy into the quirky Joel Embiid narrative whenever the goofy big man does something like sip a Shirley Temple on live television. But what if we’re living a lie? Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers revealed that the pink beverage at Embiid’s side during the Draft Lottery was little more than a prop.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Red Pills
Author: Kyle Neubeck – @KyleNeubeck
Link: Joel Embiid’s Shirley Temple prop

Are the Bulls less likely to deal Jimmy Butler to the Celtics now that Boston has landed the No. 1 pick in the draft? Vijay Vemu of Blog A Bull suggests as much, writing that Danny Ainge took a risk holding onto the pick at the deadline rather than going the safe route and dealing for an established star.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Fortunate Gambles
Author: Vijay Vemu – @VJVemu
Link: Jimmy Butler to Celtics less likely

The Hawks could have done more to involve Dwight Howard in their offense, Da’Vonte Hughes of Soaring Down South writes, suggesting that the big man had reason to be upset with how he was utilized during his first season Atlanta.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Neglected Supermen
Author: Da’Vonte Hughes – @CookieByNature
Link: Dwight Howard non-option for Hawks

Did you forget that Joel Anthony was still in the NBA? You aren’t alone. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie noticed the big man’s name trending on Twitter and discovered that people all around the world were shocked to see the veteran big man suit up in the Spurs‘ blowout loss Wednesday.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Two-Time NBA Champions
Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Link: Joel Anthony trends on Twitter

There are similarities between Jimmy Butler and Stanley Johnson, including underwhelming freshman and sophomore seasons, says Luke Wolthuis of Piston Powered. Could Johnson, a well-built two-way forward, make a leap similar to that of Butler’s in Year 3?

Rating: 7 out of 10 Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Luke Wolthuis – @WolthuisLuke
Link: Stanley Johnson, Jimmy Butler comparison

Harrison Barnes verticalAlthough he may not win the award, Harrison Barnes deserves a spot in the Most Improved Player conversation, Sam Guertler of Mavs Moneyball suggests. The forward’s offensive game improved dramatically in his first year as a targeted weapon in Dallas, without any compromise in efficiency.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Additional Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Sam Guertler – @SamGuertler
Link: Harrison Barnes Most Improved Player

It takes a delicate balance of usefulness and expendability for a player to suit up for three different franchises in one season. This year, Ersan Ilyasova dressed for the Thunder, Sixers, and Hawks, and still managed to set a new career high for points in a season. Miles Wray of The Step Back took a good long look at how the season stands up historically.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Bonus Points For Playing For Two Altogether Different Teams Last Year
Author: Miles Wray – @MilesWray
Link: NBA players who play for three teams in one season

It was hard to evaluate the first season in the NBA for Jakob Poeltl, a lottery pick on a reigning Eastern Conference Finals squad, but Brian Boake set out to do so anyway for Raptors Rapture. In Poeltl, the Raptors have a cheap, malleable option to audition as their Stretch 5 of the Future.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Teenage Mutant Ninjas
Author: Brian Boake – @NewmarketBrian
Link: Jakob Poeltl’s future with Raptors

Over the years, Gregg Popovich has simply owned Mike D’Antoni in the NBA playoffs, so much so that the J.R. Wilco over at Pounding the Rock had a particularly specific video commissioned just to drive home the point.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Academy Award-Winning Method Actors
Author: J.R. Wilco – @JRWilco
Link: Gregg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni History

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Links Vol. 4: Conspiracy Theories, Broken Mechanics, More

Once a week, we here at Hoops Rumors like to share the best blog content on the internet. In this, our fourth installment, of Hoops Links we take you all over the blogosphere from the upcoming NBA lottery to the Raptors rebuild that never was and the fountain of youth.

Want to see your favorite content featured here next week? Submit it for possible inclusion by tweeting @AustinKent or emailing HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. We want entertaining, unique content and that’s exactly what’s out there.

When the dust settled on the 2016/17 regular season, the Magic finished with the fifth-worst record in the NBA. This week, Aaron Goldstone of Orlando Pinstriped Post explored what that means for their lottery odds. The team with the fifth-best odds has won the lottery five times since its inception, Goldstone writes, but a simple look at the probabilities of possible outcomes reveals that the club is most likely to walk away with the No. 6 pick.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Spontaneous Math Tutorials
Author: Aaron Goldstone – @GoldstoneAaron
Link: Orlando Magic lottery odds

Kristaps Porzingis verticalMight Kristaps Porzingis have intentionally published the cryptic Clippers tweet to send a message to Knicks owner James Dolan? Behold a conspiracy theory from the nefarious mind of one New York blogger notorious for having once trafficked in deceit himself to improve standing in the workplace. Richard Bertin of Daily Knicks suggests that the hacking claim rings false and that other motives are at play.

Rating: 7 out of 10 And Anyway, Leaving Your Account Open Isn’t The Same As Being Hacked Eithers
Author: Richard Bertin – @RichardBertin
Link: Kristaps Porzingis’ Clippers tweet

The shock of the Raptors‘ sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers has started to give way to action and a Masai Ujiri exit interview this week reassured fans that he’s well aware of what needs to be done. Adam Corsair of South of the 6ix is comfortable having faith in the Raptors president. A full Ujiri rebuild, Corsair writes, is eerily exciting considering we haven’t actually seen one yet.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Vetoed Knicks Trades
Author: Adam Corsair – @ACorsair21
Link: Ujiri’s options for Raptors offseason

He hasn’t played a game in the NBA yet, but that doesn’t stop the Sixers and their fans from planning a future with Ben Simmons in their lineup. Myles Stedman of The Sixers Sense went through each of the top draft prospects for this upcoming class and discussed how they could fit alongside 2016’s first overall pick.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Mock Draft Addictions
Author: Myles Stedman – @StedsTake
Link: Sixers draft prospects

It’s hard to know just what impact LaVar Ball‘s assumed involvement will have on Lonzo Ball‘s NBA career but Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen and Roll cautions that the most famous father in this year’s draft class is likely licking his chops at the size of the Lakers‘ platform. That could be one of several unnecessary distractions.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Luxury Flip Flops
Author: Anthony Irwin – @AnthonyIrwinLA
Link: Lonzo Ball and the Lakers

With age comes wisdom and a vastly improved three-point shot — the Raptors learned this the hard way not long after the Pacers did last month. Is 32 the new 22? The way LeBron James has been tearing through the NBA seems to suggest as much. For the King James Gospel, Dan Gilinsky wrote about how James and the Cavaliers are looking more dominant than ever.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Goats
Author: Dan Gilinsky – @ArmchairQBDan
Link: LeBron James aging well

Andre Drummond verticalIt was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad season for Pistons fans, and making matters worse is that Andre Drummond may not fully own up to what went wrong. Steve Hinson of Detroit Bad Boys recently broke down an interview the big man gave and wasn’t too impressed.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Mats Of Luscious Shoulder Hair
Author: Steve Hinson – @Shinons8
Link: Andre Drummond discusses Pistons season

It was a rough year for Chandler Parsons this season, as the 28-year-old posted career lows across the board just months after signing a max contract. Still, the most disappointing thing about it wasn’t Parsons’ lack of production, but his lack of awareness as to what it means to commit to the Grizzlies franchise. Joe Mullinax of Grizzly Bear Blues argues that the star should make more of an effort to fit into the Memphis community if he wants to be embraced.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Screencapped Instagram Comments
Author: Joe Mullinax – @JoeMullinax
Link: Chandler Parsons disappointing Memphis season

Minor tweaks to shooting mechanics could help Justise Winslow improve his jumper in much the same way that Kawhi Leonard benefited from slight changes to his own shot. Wes Goldberg of All U Can Heat broke down the Heat forward’s shooting stroke and suggests that establishing a more consistent base could help him increase a woeful 20% “wide-open” three-point percentage.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Spontaneous Physics Tutorials
Author: Wes Goldberg – @WCGoldberg
Link: Justise Winslow shooting mechanics

After a tumultuous few seasons, Lance Stephenson is back with the Pacers and Josh Padmore of 8 Points, 9 Seconds wonders if the swingman can return to near-All-Star form. He argues that Stephenson and the Pacers are just meant to be.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Memes
Author: Josh Padmore – @JPadmore92
Link: Lance Stephenson back with Pacers

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors Accepting Best Blog Links

As you’ve surely heard by now, we’ve revamped our weekly Hoops Rumors link dump. Now more than ever we want to shine on a light on the best original content that comes out of the blogosphere. Think you know of a blog post that deserves recognition? Submit them for possible inclusion in next week’s post.

There is no shortage of sports content available on the internet but there’s something about the blog community that stands out. What we want to spread is original, entertaining content, the perfect blend between quality and fan passion.

The next time you come across a great article – even if you, ahem, wrote it yourself – let us know. You can mention @AustinKent on Twitter or even send an email to HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws.

Here’s a look back at our Hoops Links posts from the last three weeks.

May 4 – Vol. 3: Traditional Big Men, Puppies, More
April 27 – Vol. 2: The Next MJ, McGee’s Reign, More
April 20 – Vol. 1: Unpopular Raptors, Kobe GIFs, More

Hoops Links Vol. 3: Traditional Big Men, Puppies, More

Welcome to Hoops Links, your one-stop shop collection of the best original content from around the NBA blogosphere. Consider it a mid-week safari of sports news, just with more journalism and fewer hyenas savaging the carcasses of fallen jackals.

As I do every week, this is my plea for all readers to hit me up with future articles so that each edition of Hoops Links can shine a light on areas of the online hoops community that deserve it. You can email them to me at HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws or send them to me on Twitter (@AustinKent). Heck, flag down any of the Hoops Rumors staff the next time you see us walking down the street and that’ll work just as well.

Lost in the excitement of the thrilling Game 2 finish between the Wizards and Celtics is that Washington could realistically have pulled out the victory in regulation. Jake Whitacre of Bullets Forever relives the last 14 seconds of the fourth quarter and breaks down what went wrong.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Missed Opportunities
Author: Jake Whitacre – @JakeWhitacre
Link: Wizards-Celtics, Game 2

Jrue Holiday verticalA thorough look at advanced metrics reveals that Jrue Holiday is a valuable second-tier guard. Oleh Kosel of The Bird Writes recently walked through the NOLA playmaker’s portfolio and revealed that, while his numbers may lack in comparison to some of his elite counterparts, the fact that the pending free agent is willing to defer to players like Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Rating: 9 out of 10 It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Features
Author: Oleh Kosel – @RedHopeful
Link: Jrue Holiday offensive metrics

Through seven seasons in the NBA, and especially this most recent one, James Harden has established himself as a scoring savant capable of stuffing the stat sheet with gaudy point and assists totals. That much we know. This second-round series between the Rockets and Spurs, however, will serve as an indication as to whether or not the box-score stuffer is ready to formally join the league’s contending elite. Kwame Fisher-Jones of The 76er Files has the details.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Most Valuable MVP Runners-Up
Author: Kwame Fisher-Jones – @MrJonesNBA
Link: James Harden Rockets-Spurs series

When the Cavaliers were limping through the second half of the regular season, criticism of head coach Tyronn Lue was commonplace. Quenton Albertie at King James Gospel, for one, admits to not-so-subtly calling for the man’s firing. Fast forward one month later and the Cavs are back running like a well-oiled machine, a testament to the adjustments Lue has made from the sidelines, and writers like Albertie have changed their tune.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Richard Jefferson Snapchats
Author: Quenton Albertie – @QuentonAlbertie
Link: Cavs coach Tyronn Lue

The Magic will be well represented in the new BIG3 league set to debut this summer. A total of 10 former Orlando players were drafted to three-on-three rosters last Sunday. While Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams team up to captain the 3-Headed Monsters, the list of former Magic players who will participate is significant (we see you Larry Hughes! BONUS LINK). Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily has the complete list.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Flat-Footed Old Guy Jumpers
Author: Philip Rossman-Reich – @OMagicDaily
Link: Orlando Magic BIG3 players

LeBron beerThe same Ohio beer company that infamously launched a special ale called Quitness when LeBron James left for the Heat in 2010 have now taken to using the King’s own image in a more recent promotion. As Henry Bushnell lays out at Ball Don’t Lie, James’ legal team will handle the beer company looking to cash in on James pretending to take a sip out of a beer bottle on the tray of a courtside server last Monday.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Marketing Fails
Author: Henry Bushnell – @HenryBushnell
Link: Beer company’s LeBron James promotion

A Michigan-wide dog adoption event ended about as well as any of us could have hoped, with Stan Van Gundy taking home the last of the available canines at a Harbor Springs Humane Society. For Detroit Bad Boys, Sean Corp breaks down the Van Gundy family’s decision to take home the lab with complicated medical needs. “And with this,” one DBB commenter says, “SVG concludes the Pistons’ offseason roster movement.” He’s kidding. We hope.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Good Boys
Author: Sean Corp – @Sean_Corp
Link: Stan Van Gundy adopts dog

The Celtics and Wizards had beef even before their second-round series, Jeff Clark writes for Celtics Blog, but that doesn’t mean can’t get progressively worse. Clark talks about the “boop” game and the “funeral” game and the fact that Markieff Morris has a reputation for finding himself involved in “extracurricular activities.”
Rating: 7 out of 10 Reminders Not To Leave The Bench In The Event Of An Altercation
Author: Jeff Clark – @CelticsBlog
Link: Celtics-Wizards Feud

It’s getting harder and harder for the Raptors to get by with Jonas Valanciunas on the court and the club’s latest matchup is yet one more compelling case for the club to fully embrace small ball. For The Step Back, Andrew Bernucca writes that Toronto deserves credit for having the foresight to acquire Serge Ibaka at the deadline, but that it’s no longer justifiable to have the back-to-the-basket Valanciunas out there with him.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Signs Of The Time
Author: Andrew Bernucca – @Krosoveri
Link: Jonas Valanciunas small ball

Plodding big man Al Jefferson came under fire from his own general manager for not being in great shape this postseason. C. Cooper of Indy Cornrows, however, calls to question the Pacers in general, arguing that they ought to get the rest of the bench working effectively around him, too.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Floor Spacing Issues
Author: C. Cooper – @C2_Cooper
Link: Al Jefferson out of shape

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.