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: Roundball Mining Company. Joel Rush looks at the developing chemistry between second-tier-MVP-candidate Ty Lawson and offseason addition Randy Foye, which has given the Denver Nuggets a spark of long-range shooting that many figured would be sorely lacking with Danilo Gallinari sidelined due to injury.
PF: 48 Minutes of Hell. Trevor Zickgraf makes the argument that latter-day Manu Ginobili has become something like latter-day Jason Kidd. Cue San Antonio Spurs fans praying Manu doesn't miss the final 18 shots of his career.
SF: Sports-Reference and Box Score Geeks. Neil Paine delves into the past to contextualize the much-ballyhooed early-season separation between the Eastern and Western Conferences: "In the early stages of 2013-14, we are indeed seeing an historic level of inter-conference imbalance." Devin Dignam visualizes Paine's research so that you can see the inter-conference trends in handy charts.
SG: BrewHoop. Giannis Antetokounmpo is writing about life in the NBA for a Greek sports site, and this translation of the Milwaukee Bucks rookie's most recent post figures to do precious little to stem fans' ever-growing love for him: "With all that's happened these last months I've come to realize, more and more, that I belong here."
PG: The Brooklyn Game. The Brooklyn Nets are changing up their defensive strategy in the aftermath of Lawrence Frank's "re-assignment," according to Devin Kharpertian, and that did not work out super well for them on Thursday. If the Nets are going to run a pack-the-paint, strong-side zone defense similar to what Tom Thibodeau popularized with the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, they're going to need the players to make it work, and unless Kevin Garnett can turn back the clock a few years and Andrei Kirilenko's back starts feeling better very soon, Jason Kidd seems like he's going to come up short there.
6th: Detroit Free Press. Dan Feldman on Andre Drummond's rise to power, and the appropriate reward for the Detroit Pistons' emerging center: "It’s time to give Drummond the credit he deserves, and that should start with an appearance in the 2014 All-Star Game." (I still think I'd take Roy Hibbert as the East's best center right now, though.)
7th: Grantland. Kirk Goldsberry sits down with LeBron James to talk about how the man at the controls of the Miami Heat's high-powered offenses sees its evolution over the years, how each piece fits into it, and his own role as its orchestrator.
8th: New York Times. Good stuff from Beckley Mason on the unmeasurable but unmistakeable team chemistry that has helped propel the Portland Trail Blazers to an eye-popping 16-3 start. As veteran guard Earl Watson puts it: "Everyone accepts their role, and the roles were never defined. It’s the truth of our team, the DNA of our team."
9th: Hickory High and Oakley and Allen. A pair of good reads on Chris Paul — Cole Patty wonders whether, statistical argument and evident mastery aside, CP3 could ever be considered the best point guard of all time without stuff like titles and MVPs, while Micah Wimmer celebrates the Los Angeles Clippers triggerman as "the perfecting of an ideal" when it comes to lead-guard facilitation.
10th: The Triangle. Zach Lowe on one of the early season's biggest surprises — the Charlotte Bobcats skyrocketing from the absolute depths of the NBA's defensive rankings to boast the league's No. 3 stingiest unit thus far this year — and whether such locking-down can sustain.
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Derrick Rose spoke to the media on Thursday for the first time since suffering a tear to the medial meniscus in his right knee during a Nov. 22 game against the Portland Trail Blazers. (He kind of had to; there's a rule about it now.) And while the Chicago Bulls announced three days after he went down that their starting point guard would miss the remainder of the 2013-14 campaign, in his first public comments since his injury, the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player refused to completely rule out a return this season.
"If I'm healthy and the situation is right, I will be back playing," Rose said Thursday when asked if he might return for the playoffs. "If I'm healthy and my meniscus is fully healed, of course I'll be out there playing. But if it's something totally different and the outcome is not how I would want it to be, there's no need."
No, there definitely isn't.
As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune immediately noted, we're talking about a pretty severe long shot here:
People will jump on DRose leaving crack open about returning for playoffs but was told 2 weeks ago that chance is almost non-existent.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 5, 2013
Rose's statement might irk those who grew tired of the "will he or won't he?" element accompanying the guard's recovery and rehabilitation from surgery to repair the left anterior cruciate ligament he tore during the opening game of the Bulls' 2012 postseason. While New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who also suffered a torn left ACL on the same day as Rose, was back on the court less than nine months later, Rose took longer.
Word came trickling out that he was "seeing predictable contact" in practice, then full contact, but he stayed in a suit during games; he said he wanted to be "110 percent" when he came back, a status he hadn't reached by the time his doctor reportedly cleared him to return to work, because while the body might have been ready, Rose hadn't yet cleared the mental hurdle of hitting top speed and exploding off that surgically repaired left knee. By the time the Bulls' 2012-13 season had ended in mid-May, he still hadn't.
The confidence came back this summer, with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau saying his point guard looked great in workouts and Rose telling cable news outlets he felt he was the best player in the NBA between bouts with lowered rims and samurai. It grew during a strong preseason before wavering, though not disappearing, amid a sluggish start to the regular season that saw him average just 15.9 points and 4.3 assists per game on 35.4 percent shooting through 10 games.
Despite the comparatively pedestrian numbers, Rose said Thursday he felt like he "was catching a rhythm of how I used to play" before going down against Portland with what doctors said was a "freak accident" ("I didn't buckle my knee or anything. I paused for a second. I was able to still run a few steps before I couldn't walk. It just happened"). And now he's got to start anew.
"I'm rebuilding my leg all over again, my other leg," Rose said, according to USA TODAY's Sean Highkin. "The process of actually dealing with an injury is kind of frustrating at first, knowing I'm going to miss a long period of time."
How long remains unclear, but Rose said he's much further along at this juncture than he was after his ACL tear, according to Johnson of the Tribune:
"I’m able to put pressure on my leg now," he said. "With the ACL, I wasn’t able to put any pressure on it. ... With this injury, I'm able to get back on the court a lot quicker."
Maybe. Maybe not. We won't know until Rose's rehabilitation progresses, until his doctors can examine how his knee's responding to treatment, and until enough time has passed and enough strength has been rebuilt that a reasonable re-assessment is possible. If, at that time, the medical personnel involved give Rose a clean bill of health, the man himself feels comfortable enough to get back on the court, and the Bulls feel comfortable enough to rescind their "out for the season" proclamation, then great. If none of that stuff comes to pass, well, that's too bad; see you next season, Derrick. Rose is saying that if he is healthy, he will play, and if he's not, he won't — that's about as far as we need to take it right now, it seems. "Selfishness" doesn't need to enter into the discussion at this point.
For his part, Rose remained resolved to return and to do so his way, doubters be damned, according to Seligman:
Rose is in an all-too-familiar spot, trying to recuperate. He has played in just 50 NBA games — 49 in the regular season and that lone playoff game — since the Bulls' run to the conference finals during his MVP season, and at least some fans are wondering if the organization should move on.
"What can I say to that?" Rose said. Then, after a long pause, he added, "You could be a fool if you want to. I know I'm going to be all right." [...]
"I believe that I'm a special player. I think people love the way that I just play. I don't try to impress anyone while I'm playing or anything. I've just got a feel for the game. I know my story is far from done."
Here's the full 21-plus-minute video of Rose's media availability, if you're so inclined:
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The Mavericks look to cool down the Blazers following a hot 17-3 start to the season and a 9-1 record at the Moda Center. Dallas has plenty of star power, though, and they're looking to solidify their place in the West's early playoff picture.
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz, 130-98, at the Moda Center on Friday night, improving their record to 17-3.
The Portland Trail Blazers made their game against the Utah Jazz easy on Friday night, riding three-point shooting and rebounding to a 32-point victory.
A recap of Friday night's contest between the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers!
Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan discussed the state of the organization at a Portland City Club luncheon on Friday.
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