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Court Vision: Allen Iverson's influence

Allen Iverson is set to formally retire from the NBA. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) Allen Iverson is set to formally retire from the NBA. Iverson played 14 seasons in the league, but had not logged a minute of NBA action since 2010. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

• With Allen Iverson's impending formal retirement, you'll undoubtedly read a share of reflections on his career and influence. Many will be quite good, as Iverson tends to occupy a special space for so many who care about this game. But I'd urge you to usher this piece -- by David Roth of SB Nation -- to the top of the pile:

It's true, and not necessarily a bad thing, that Iverson's specific sort of struggle feels like an anachronism in the NBA circa now. The NBA, awash in record revenues and rising ratings, is no doubt happy about this. It's the consensus that Iverson's years as the NBA's most recognizable -- if never necessarily best-loved -- figure were not good ones for the league, and in terms of the demarcations of brand health they weren't. But this is not because of any failing on Iverson's part, or even on the NBA's, so much as it's a reflection of how difficult and complicated and not-for-everyone Allen Iverson was as a player.

Because his mastery was so furious and improbable and risky -- all that hungry pinballing and crashing through the lane, through opponents, into various immovable objects real and metaphorical -- Iverson was both frightening and exhilarating to watch. This wasn't the zipless, vicious grace of Michael Jordan or even Kobe's fuming, self-conscious maestro-hood. Iverson was harder than that, more challenging than that -- he was in control, but his game was about finding the outer boundary of that control, a place in the red where opponents couldn't meet him, and then staying there. There was a sharp and unmissable risk in his every on-court moment. Someone or something could get hurt. It was usually him. This was fun to watch, but it was decidedly adult entertainment.

• Nate Robinson is working in some offseason taekwondo. (via Danny Chau)

• LeBron James plays dress-up.

• A needed reminder that the best means of exploiting the Pacers in the pick-and-roll is still -- counterintuitively -- to attack Roy Hibbert. From The Mikan Drill:

Offenses can take advantage of this by using Hibbert’s man to set the ball screen, which forces Hibbert to be more involved in the action. This gives the offense a few good options to get high percentage shots. The open space on the court out of this action is usually centered around the foul line extended, which is where the Pacers want to force the offense in hopes of forcing a jump shot.

When Hibbert is guarding the roll man and not the rim, the Pacers are vulnerable. Hibbert is too slow to match up with a driving big man and there is no one left to protect the rim. Hibbert is comfortable in the paint, cutting off the dribble drive, but looks unsure of himself when he has to guard 15 feet from the basket. This allows the big man to cut to the rim or drive past Hibbert after receiving the kick out pass...

...While having Hibbert’s man set the screen on the pick and roll seems like an easy idea to run constantly, the Pacers often put Hibbert on a lesser offensive player so that he is free to roam the paint and protect the rim. When that is the case, teams may design sets and alignments to draw Hibbert away from the action so he can’t have an effect on the ball screen.

• Corey Brewer has a pet goat. The more you know.

• Correlating a player's points-per-game average with hip-hop name drops. (via Matt Moore)

• The Lakers' perimeter rotation looks to be a bit crowded, and could pose a challenge for head coach Mike D'Antoni -- who has never been one to go deep into his bench unless absolutely necessary.

• Among those aforementioned Laker wings is the trigger-happy Nick Young, who will undoubtedly be putting up his share of field goal attempts in Kobe Bryant's absence. Drew Garrison of Silver Screen and Roll put together a thorough look at Young's scoring game, chock full of interesting notes on Young's shot selection and tendencies.

• The NBA's official blooper reel for the 2012-13 season features shockingly few actual bloopers, but it's worth watching all the same:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FoMKMIZ6_0&feature=youtube_gdata

• Over at The Basketball Jones, Andrew Unterberger concludes his examination of the most interesting players in every division with a look at the standout players of the Pacific. He finds players worth exploring on every team in the division, and in the case of the Kings chose to hone in on the newly acquired Greivis Vasquez:

You know you have to go back to the turn of the millennium to find a player on the Sacramento Kings who averaged more than seven assists a game for a season? Jason Williams averaged 7.3 back in 99-00, and since then, the only player to average even six a game is when Mike Bibby dimed 6.8 a contest in 04-05. In 2012, Tyreke Evans led the team with 4.5 a game, and last year, Isiah Thomas led the squad with a whopping 4.0 a game. Sharing has not exactly been caring in Sactown lately, and you’d have a tough time saying the team has been better off for it.All of this is to say that Greivis Vasquez, who averaged nine assists a game and led the entire league in total assists last year, might be something of a breath of fresh air for Kings fans. He doesn’t have the starting job firmly won from Isiah Thomas yet, but I have to imagine that once the Kings get a little taste of actual pure point guard distribution, it’s gonna be too intoxicating for them to go back to a hybrid like Lil Zeke. They’ll probably still be terrible, but it’ll be a more communal form of terrible, and that’ll be nice.

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