We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, every Saturday, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.
This year’s All-Star Weekend is being hosted by the city of New Orleans, so let’s start with the NBA’s current face of New Orleans, Anthony Davis. In just his second NBA season, Davis will be appearing in his first All-Star Game as a replacement for the injured Kobe Bryant. James Herbert at SB Nation talked with Davis, and those around Davis in New Orleans, to figure out how Davis has managed to become one of the best players in the Western Conference and the leader of a young Pelicans team. Thus far this season, Davis is averaging 20.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game and would be the first player to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game since Shaquille O’Neal in the 1999-2000 season. Though plenty have pointed out Davis’ dominance, Herbert did a great job profiling his progression as a team leader this season for the Pelicans.
Moving from the youngest player participating in the All-Star Game to the oldest, Drew Garrison spent some time this past week marveling at Dirk Nowitzki’s comeback season. Nowitzki will be appearing in his 12th All-Star Game on Sunday and Garrison took a closer look at how Nowitzki has managed to maintain his success. Many would probably assume that Nowitzki has just turned into a spot-up shooter in his advanced age, but Garrison used some statistics to show that the way in which Nowitzki scores is more varied than ever before.
On the other side, the Eastern Conference will feature one of the best defensive players in the league George Hibbert, though the All-Star Game isn’t likely the best showcase for his skills. Lee Jenkins at Sports Illustrated did a superb job looking at Hibbert’s life and the unusual path he took to becoming one of the most focused and intense players in the NBA. Hibbert wasn’t insanely dedicated to basketball as a young man like many of his peers at All-Star Weekend and Jenkins did a great job showing exactly why he was so different from other future NBA players as a teenager.
This Sunday, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will be representing the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the league’s biggest surprises, in the All-Star Game. Seerat Sohi took a closer look at the Blazers’ approach and how they might be able to improve after the All-Star Break. Sohi broke down the defensive strategies of some of the league’s best teams including both aggressive and conservative schemes. Each type of scheme involves taking some sort of risk and while Sohi didn’t argue for the Blazers to implement either type of schemes, she did argue that the Blazers should choose to play either scheme in a more extreme matter. As of now, the Blazers simply attempt to limit their risk in all situations, which has led to a defense that doesn’t do much of anything well.
Like Lillard, Adam Silver is making his first appearance at All-Star Weekend in a starring role and Sam Amick of The USA Today talked with Silver to get his opinion on a large variety of topics. Amick wrote a cover story summing up some of these topics, but he also published a portion of his interview with Silver that didn’t appear in the cover story and was much more in-depth. In the in-depth portion, Silver talked at length about his childhood and the 22 years he has already spent with the NBA. He also talked about why he thinks the NBA should think about raising the minimum age requirement in the NBA to 20 years old.
If a 20-year old age limit would be imposed, Silver envisions the D-League taking on an even larger role than it is thus far and serving as a sort of proving grounds for young players. A player currently doing just that is Pierre Jackson of the Idaho Stampede. Jackson has been lighting up the league averaging more than 29 points per game, but currently finds himself in NBA purgatory as his rights are owned by the New Orleans Pelicans, which means no other team in the league can give him a spot on a NBA roster without trading for his rights. Matt Moore of CBS Sports caught up with Jackson to ask him about his uncertain future and see what he was thinking about doing going forward. Jackson’s story is one of the reasons why players are currently unsure of going to the D-League instead of going overseas and this is something Silver will have to work out if he expects the league to continue growing.
While Jackson is attempting to prove himself in the D-League, Steve Nash is attempting to prove himself again after an injury-filled season as a Laker last year. Nash joined forces with Grantland’s Bill Simmons and director friend Jon Hock to tell the story of his attempted return. Accompanying the must-watch first episode of their documentary titled “The Finish Line” is a great piece by Simmons in which he attempted to show the cynical view point of current NBA fans as players are now more likely to be seen as contracts rather than actual human beings on their favorite team.
We’ll wrap up What We’re Reading with a look at the glory days of the Dunk Contest. We’re talking about the time before Chris Anderson took 10 attempts to complete an alley-oop and Blake Griffin dunked over a Kia Optima in the finals of an event that just happened to be co-sponsored by Kia. Our first piece was written by Paul Flannery and took a look back at the event’s birth at the 1976 ABA All-Star game in Denver. It also includes some footage of that dunk contest, so it’s worth watching. The second piece was a oral history written by Jason Buckland recapping arguably the most impressive Dunk Contest performance of all-time, Vince Carter’s majestic 2000 Slam Dunk Contest victory. Enjoy.
That’s all for this week. Remember…reading is FUNdamental.