Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and company are struggling. (D. Clarke Evans/NBA/Getty Images)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C: Straight Outta Vancouver. After a 21-point thumping at the hands of the division rival San Antonio Spurs, which came on the heels of 20-plus-point losses to both the Mavericks and the Chris Paul-less Clippers, Kevin Lipe goes through a very thorough search for an answer to just what the hell is going on with the Memphis Grizzlies, a "team that started 12–2 and has been .500 ever since, and which appears to be flaming out before our very eyes."
PF: CBSSports.com. Nestled beneath a detail-rich report on the independent analysis of the NBPA that must have Billy Hunter feeling tight around the collar right about now, Ken Berger updates recent reports that former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden is planning on making a comeback next season with news that the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams monitoring Oden's progress. Could Oden wind up inking a deal before the end of this season?
SF: RealGM. Jonathan Tjarks runs through the history of Mike D'Antoni's one-in, four-out spread pick-and-roll offense, considering what's made it successful over time, what can make it successful with the Los Angeles Lakers, why Earl Clark's more valuable now than he's ever been before and why Pau Gasol can probably expect to keep hearing his name in trade talks.
SG: ProBasketballTalk. During a recent public appearance, Gary Payton — who was once a young, gifted, brash, sometimes undirected two-way point guard looking to find his way in the league — tells Friend of BDL Kurt Helin about his burgeoning relationship with John Wall, a young, gifted, brash, sometimes undirected two-way point guard looking to find his way in the league. We can think of worse mentors for the Washington Wizards triggerman to have than a dude who just got nominated for Hall of Fame induction, and who was flat-out awesome.
PG: Denver Stiffs. As the saga surrounding the potential sale of the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group intent on returning SuperSonics basketball to the Emerald City continues to unfold, Jeffrey Morton reminds us that back in the late 1990s, the Denver Nuggets and their fans found themselves in a very similar predicament to that of the Kings and their partisans. It's interesting history if you don't know it and an important reminder of what Morton calls the moral of all such ownership/relocation fights: Extremely rich people who most likely can afford to build new arenas themselves want citizens and municipalities to subsidize their massive projects, always and forever, amen.
6th: Meloship of the Ring. Iman Shumpert made his first appearance of the season on Thursday after blowing out his left knee during last year's playoffs, and he performed pretty well, scoring eight points in 15 minutes, hitting a pair of corner 3-pointers and showing some bounce off the dribble in the Knicks' 102-87 win over the Detroit Pistons in London. Taylor Armosino offers a reasoned take on what to expect from the just-returned Shumpert going forward, and how his reintegration could aid the Knicks' subpar defense.
7th: The Point Forward. In other Knicks news: Rob Mahoney takes a look at how Carmelo Anthony, after nine seasons as one of the league's most prolific but inefficient offensive players, has "simply let go, and let superstardom come to him."
8th: Sports on Earth. And one last Knicks thing to grow on — David Roth on owner James Dolan, the dude who had two employees record every word said to or by Carmelo Anthony during a pair of recent games at Madison Square Garden, and whose "involuted monomania and arbitrary authoritarianism, crass pettiness and hyper-reactive negativity" stand in opposition to the joyful, ball-sharing basketball the team played through the first 25 or so games of the season. There are a lot of pretty words put together beautifully about an ugly thing.
9th: Grantland. So, how good have the Oklahoma City Thunder's offense in general and Kevin Durant's shooting in particular been this season? Would you believe "among the greatest offensive seasons in modern NBA history?" Zach Lowe makes the case with a data dive.
10th: Wages of Wins. The quantitative analysis-centric blog/community is helping raise money for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and they're doing it by holding a contest in which readers pick which player in Thursday or Friday's games posts the best Points over Par performance, with the winner getting their donation matched and bumped up to the next tier. A fun project for the statistically inclined readers in our midst and a good way to help a good cause, if you're into it.
Got a link or tip for Ball Don't Lie? Give me a shout at devine (at) yahoo-inc.com, or follow me on Twitter.