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Court Vision: Putting player development in context

Would DeMarcus Cousins' development be more certain if he were drafted by the San Antonio Spurs? (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Rob Mahoney

• Kevin Arnovitz and Beckley Mason of ESPN.com weaved their way off the beaten path in a fascinating discussion of all kinds of NBA-related subjects. Among them: the paramount importance of context when it comes to player development. Cue Arnovitz:

This is one of my favorite counterfactuals: What if Cousins were drafted by the San Antonio Spurs? You can try it with any young player who has come through the league. Are we absolutely certain Adam Morrison or Michael Olowokandi couldn’t have put together decent NBA careers had they landed with more resourceful or nurturing organizations? An apprentice can thrive if the workshop is conducive to good training and his mentor rocks (see Lawson, Ty).

Fundamentally, these teams are workplaces, and more professional offices tend to get the best of their team. Individual strengths are fostered; shortcomings are neutralized.

If you’re lucky, you get to work at a place like this. Cousins hasn’t been lucky. So he can either succumb to the worst instincts of his environment or take it a personal imperative to defy them.

• A step-by-step breakdown, from all the Miami principles involved, of how Ray Allen opened up the court for LeBron James' massive second-quarter dunk against the Celtics on Tuesday.

• Three huge influences in NBA-related media — NBA.com/Turner's David Aldridge, ESPN.com's Henry Abbott, and Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski — reflect on the place of Twitter in the world of sports journalism.

• Kirk Goldsberry — whose outstanding shot location work has been featured all over the place, in addition to his own blog — will be contributing to Grantland's NBA coverage this season. His first offering: a closer look at the charted difference in shooting between James Harden and Kevin Martin.

• The outstanding Paul Flannery has jumped over to SB Nation, and debuted with a look at the Heat-Celtics rivalry:

If I learned anything in my four years on the beat -- other than what it's like to be stared down by a man a foot and a half taller than me -- it's that the one true thing in this league is the game. It is relentless, almost predatory in nature. Leave a weakness exposed and your opponent will gorge on the remains until the next timeout or a double team, whichever comes first. Everything else, if not quite a fabrication, is for show.

So when Ray Allen -- who has only known Garnett since they were both high school kids in South Carolina -- came over to the Celtics' bench to give his old colleagues some love he was greeted with the iciest of cold shoulders. Welcome to the other side, Ray.

• Tracing Brandon Roy's return to the court in longform.

• This should come as little surprise to those who have checked in on the Pistons over the last three seasons, but Charlie Villanueva — who was, in the distant past, a promising prospect — has become "virtually unplayable," per Dan Feldman of Piston Powered.

• Jonathan Abrams' profile of Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is predictably terrific.

The Basketball Jones' Daily Fix is back, with a new format, almost-tucked-in jerseys, and cogent analysis of Tuesday night's games.

Devin Ebanks is a generous fellow.

• If you still have an appetite for season previews, I'd suggest you check out the fine slate of preview work done by the cast of Ball Don't Lie.

• I'm still not entirely convinced that this would be a prudent strategy, but Brett Koremenos makes the case for Anthony Davis to play the wing.

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