• The most savvy NBA franchises fight for every minor edge they can get, and an increasing number are becoming keen on the science of sleep. Beckley Mason delved in to find the basketball advantages beyond the waking world:
Losing even one night of sleep significantly impairs reaction time and the ability to quickly spot visual signals. In a sport where tenths of a second are the difference between a timely defensive rotation and a dunk that ends up on SportsCenter, this stuff really matters. Lack of sleep also diminishes testosterone levels -- a week of sleeping four hours a night can reduce a 25-year-old’s testosterone level to that of a 36-year-old -- and increases the body’s inflammatory response.
...As it currently stands, the NBA schedule itself robs fans and teams of the best possible basketball. It’s impossible to enforce sleeping habits, especially in a business chock full of owners, scouts, coaches and players who are high-achieving types, many of whom are famous for performing on four hours or less a night. But when the best players in the world are begging new commissioner Adam Silver for another break in addition to All-Star Weekend, it’s hard to argue that the Jordan model is one to follow.
• It's unfortunate that this defense of the Bobcats was really necessary, but judging by a random sampling of social media, the Bobcats' defense needed a spokesman. Teams change, and it doesn't take much digging to find that Charlotte's D has changed in a big way this season.
• You've undoubtedly read plenty about the tragedy of Greg Oden's basketball career, but you might not have read an exploration of the subject by the terrific Tom Sunnergren -- which, believe me, is another thing entirely.
When it comes to two-man lineup combinations, a whopping 27 of the 30 most-used pairings own a negative net efficiency rating. The only three combos gaining ground on opponents are Middleton + Wolters (+6.3), Henson + Wolters (+3.1), and Antetokounmpo + Wolters (+2.7). If you notice the common thread in those lineups is Nate, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that all three of those lineups have performed well on defense.
• On a semi-related note: Grantland dispatched Rafe Bartholomew and Jason Concepcion (aka @netw3rk) to the basketball-hungry Phillipines for the NBA's preseason cameo. You do not want to miss the sprawling piece of writing that came of their trip.
• Former NBAer Austin Croshere, burned by his own son.
• Minnesota hasn't yet been formally ruled out of the West's playoff race, but their remaining schedule leaves exceptionally little room for error. Britt Robson dissects the particulars.
Glimpsed from the outside, another Hawks season that culminates in a first- or second-round playoff exit seems like more of the same. Watched intently from within the perimeter, the different path taken to those wins is stark: ball movement, player movement, individual overachievement, short contracts, cheap contracts, cap space, opportunity.
• Understatement of the millennium, courtesy of Hawks newcomer Mike Muscala: "One thing you should know about the summer league is that the game is a lot less team-oriented." • Lance Stephenson's Mardi Gras-inspired shoes are a sight to behold, and described by Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds as "the ungodly spawn of a king cake and a gilded age Louis Vuitton luggage knock off."