J.J. Hickson snares a rebound away from Anthony Davis (left) and Lance Thomas. (Sam Forencich/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: Hickory High. In case you haven't noticed — and there's a good chance you haven't — Portland Trail Blazers big man J.J. Hickson is having a career year, shooting a career high from the field and grabbing the league's third-highest share of available rebounds. So what's changed? What's different this year than it was in Hickson's stints with Cleveland and Sacramento? Ian Levy considers the question, making an interesting point about the line an NBA team must walk between trying to push a young player's development and actually letting that young player do what he can do.
PF: The Basketball Jones. Still stumped and searching for a gift for that music-loving NBA fan in your life? Skeets, Tas, Trey, Leigh, Matty O and J.D. have you covered. They are the greatest and I love them all very much.
SG: SB Nation. "I've moved on. They've moved on. We have good memories but at the same time we're all in a different place now." Paul Flannery on Jeremy Lin's return to Madison Square Garden, and what's left over in the aftermath of a dead phenomenon.
PG: Rufus on Fire. Ben Swanson dove into boatloads of Charlotte Bobcats game tape — bless your heart, Cardboard Gerald — to try to figure out why sophomore triggerman Kemba Walker seems to start games red hot and get steadily worse as the action progresses. Fatigue, as you might expect, is a factor, but Swanson's also able to pick out some changes in Charlotte's offensive spacing as games wear on, which looks to have negative effects on both Walker and his teammates. This is the kind of thing that can make the difference between the competitive unit we saw in Charlotte's first dozen games and the league-worst bottom-feeder they've become over the past few weeks, and the kind of thing that first-year coach Mike Dunlap has to figure out how to correct on the fly with limited practice time and a young squad if he's hopeful his team can start looking more like they once did than they do now. (If that makes any sense.)
6th: Bucksketball. After learning that the 12-10 Milwaukee Bucks have the third-worst attendance in the NBA this year, Bucks blogger Jeremy Schmidt takes a deep breath, gets the fans of the team dead in his sights and lets them have it: "I applaud Milwaukee for not falling for the current iteration of the Milwaukee Bucks." (Wait, what?)
7th: Bleacher Report. Jared Dubin of Hardwood Paroxysm, HoopChalk and elsewhere breaks down something I touched on in discussing Serge Ibaka's very big night against the Spurs on Monday — dude's become a beast as the roll man in the pick-and-roll game.
8th: Sactown Royalty. There's just so much venom dripping from Akis Yerocostas' recap of the Sacramento Kings' come-from-ahead double-digit loss to the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. I may sometimes have questions about how much the Kings care, but I never have questions about how much their fans do.
9th: Cavs: The Blog. A series of posts that "playfully explore[s] the mixture of pain associated with Cavalier fandom and the glory associated with drinking" identifies the seven best Christmas beers and assigns each one to a top-drawer moment from the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2012-13 season thus far. Considering they're 5-20, you might find yourself wondering, "There have been seven 'best' moments for the Cavs this year?" Indeed! Read on for more amazement (and holiday-booze-buying ideas).
10th: The New York Times. One last Lin-related link: Veteran jewel-dropper Harvey Araton writes a whale of a column about the difficult, emotional days — both those that have passed, and those that lie ahead — for the Houston Rockets' point guard and their head coach.
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