• Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star wrote a terrific piece on the journey of Pacers forward David West, who touched on the process of acclimating to an NBA locker room as an intellectual outsider:
After West didn't take kindly to a New Orleans reporter using the so-called compliment "well spoken athlete" to describe him, he allowed a member of the team's public relations staff to sit in on interviews to serve as a buffer. West also recalled a time when a teammate passed by his seat on the plane and noticed that he was reading "Soul on Ice" by Eldridge Cleaver.
"Man, you're always reading something crazy!" the teammate said, so West thought to himself that maybe he shouldn't break out his books in front of everyone.
"I learned this my first couple of years: A locker room can be an uncomfortable environment," West said. "And in that environment, it was hard for me to find a balance. It was hard, literally, for me being a thinker; every single day my mind is just running. At times, I'm not focused on basketball."
• Through trades, buyouts and a conveyor belt of 10-day contracts, the Sixers have had 28 different players on their roster this season. How many can you name?
• The central and simple reasons why the Spurs are persistently great.
• This is an awesome, Greatest Hits-style listing of Rick Carlisle's wisecracks to the press. A personal favorite:
When asked about his team's execution on offense – "My team's execution? I'm in favor of it. I include myself in that, too."
• Paul Flannery of SB Nation offers an apt, compound comparison for Kevin Durant amidst his greater appreciation for this NBA season:
Take the best qualities of T-Mac and Dirk Nowitzki, put them in George Gervin’s body and give him a nasty competitive streak softened by an outwardly pleasant persona that’s still layered in mystery and you have a reasonable amalgam of Kevin Durant. Put them in the league in his prime at the exact same time that another unique player without historical precedent is at the peak of his powers and you have the NBA in 2013-14.
• This is a pretty unbelievable quote from Cavs guard Dion Waiters on his relationship with teammate Kyrie Irving (via Tom Withers of the Associated Press): "I don't hate this guy. I'm pretty sure he don't hate me. I know he don't hate me. I hope he don't hate me."
• A closer look at the pleasantly surprising Henry Sims.
• It's been an eventful and complicated year for Milwaukee's Larry Sanders, who teetered off the rails just as he was seemed to be gaining momentum. That comes with its own frustrations -- for the Bucks, the team's fans and Sanders alike -- as Jeremy Schmidt details over at Bucksketball:
What must be most frustrating for Sanders is the inability to do the one thing that could go a long way in making these troubles disappear. Everyone forgives the player who plays well.
While he wasn’t as good this season as he was during his breakout last season, the basketball court was the least of his problems. Before the eye injury that prematurely ended his season, he seemed on the verge of a breakout. He had just set a new career high with 25 points and he grabbed 15 rebounds in the same game. He averaged 13.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and two blocks in the five games before the injury. People seemed to be talking about him as a basketball player again, rather than him as a troublemaker.
Another setback has set back the conversation around Larry Sanders though.
I'm anxious to see how Sanders comes along next season as both a person and player. But like Schmidt, I'm not exactly looking forward to the peripheral junk that tends to congeal around players who get suspended for drug use, face legal trouble and/or bicker publicly with teammates.
• Today ESPN.com introduced Real plus-minus (RPM) -- a modified version of Jeremias Engelmann's xRAPM that seeks to add a bit more depth in sussing out a player's on-court impact. It's more a tweaked stat than the outright creation of one, though RPM, like xRAPM before it, can help to identify under-appreciated players on either end of the floor. Nick Collison stand up!
• Choose whatever interpretation you'd like as to why Frank Vogel might have benched Roy Hibbert on Sunday but no work of spin can account for Hibbert checking out so completely after being pulled from the game. Things just get worse and worse in Indy.
• Some food for thought, courtesy of Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano:
Should Ryan Kelly make the All-Rookie team? On the surface, this may seem like a crazy question. But when you dig into the stats you’ll find that Kelly is 8th in PER for rookies, 5th in True Shooting %, joins Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only non-guard in the top 12 of assist ratio (while ranking 4th in turnover percentage), and has gotten better as the year has progressed. I don’t know if he’ll make it or not (I lean towards no — his games and minutes played aren’t comparable to some of the lottery picks), but to say Kelly has been anything but a very fine pick at #48 would be underselling him this year. Even with the holes in his game.all the memes lost