Anthony Davis developing on the wing will reap longterm returns

At times, playing Davis at the “3″ will be more awkward than this photo, but will pay off in the long run.

Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson have a bright future together in New Orleans. But in their work to infuse as much talent into their foundation as possible, the Hornets have created a somewhat unpleasant scenario: two of their four core players seem destined to play the same position – power forward – now and in the future.

In order to ensure the Hornets keep their best players on the floor as much as possible, either Anderson or Davis will be forced into the oft-uncomfortable confines of another position. Because neither has the muscle to tangle with opposing centers, one of these bright young players will likely be spending at least some of his minutes at small forward.

Anderson may be a young, productive and improving player in his own right, but the organization’s hopes are tied to the development of Davis. So while Anderson’s value takes a hit with a move to the wing, the conventional wisdom suggests the majority of the lanky Davis’ minutes should come at his long-term position right from the start.

At least this was my position when I saw the two on the court together for the first time during the preseason.

But I’ve come around and am now of the mind that the Hornets should commit to making the small forward spot Davis’s permanent home this season.

Cruel to be kind

Similar to Joe Flom  – a real life Jewish litigation attorney from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers —  putting Davis on a less than comfortable path early  could an opportunity to acquire valuable skills.

Flom begin his law career in 1947, an era in which, despite his qualifications, his background as

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HoopSpeak Network

Nikola Pekovic likes meat

My friend Colin alerted me to this moment from Timberwolves media day, and I had to share it with the world. Enjoy.

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HoopSpeak Live 72: HardenSpeak Live

Today’s HoopSpeak Live guest was meant to be Will Leitch of New York Magazine, Sports on Earth and GQ. He had some computer problems, though, which leaves us sorry to say that the segment didn’t quite work out. Beckley, Ethan and Zach instead spent most of the show discussing the famously Bearded, newly Houston’d James Harden. And Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and other relevant NBA’ers on the opening day of the 2012-2013 season. We’ll be back on Thursday with Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that your team will win its first game.

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The NBA’s defensive lynchpins

Big men have dominated the basketball since the game’s inception. And since that point, teams have spent countless hours and dollars in searching for the one that can ensure their franchises success by dominating the low block.

But a drastically changing game — with offenses in the past decade featuring more pick-and-rolls and hyper-athletic scorers than ever before – is changing the value of big men around the league. No longer does the fate of a franchise lie with a 7-footers ability to control a game with his back to the basket. Instead, it’s tethered to how well they are capable of anchoring a defense.

If history is any indication, an injury to a top-flight defensive big slams shut a championship window faster than one can read DNP-Injured. So despite the brightest stars shining from the perimeter and their exclusion from the All-Star ballot, centers still act as the lynchpin for several playoff or title-contending teams.

This season in particular, the health of six big men — due to either their overwhelming impact or lack of a suitable replacement — will play a key role in how the postseason race shakes out.

1. Chris Bosh

It’s hard to consider any player on Lebron James’s team a lynchpin, but Bosh comes close. The other members of this list may provide a more measurable impact in the event of their absence, but a Bosh injury could have a major effect of the Heat’s title hopes. Last season’s playoffs, when Bosh’s absence almost derailed the Heat’s title charge, is proof enough. Thanks to a mediocre collection of big men behind him, Bosh missing in action could again cripple the Heat in a conference finals series matchup against the Celtics or a Finals matchup against the Lakers.

2.

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James Harden, on top of the world

I celebrated my 23rd birthday 12,000 feet about sea level in a small guest house overlooking a dramatic valley carved with steppes where the villagers farmed rice and vegetables. My french fries that night came from a potato pulled from the earth minutes before it was cooked — I saw my tiny Nepalese innkeeper/chef carrying the still dirty spud in from the backyard. I stayed up all night — or at least what counts for all night on a trek, when you rise with the sun and fall into the rhythm imposed by natural light — drinking local moonshine, a clear distilled brew called Raksi, with my guide Purna, who repeatedly beat me in gin rummy despite claiming to have no understanding of the rules. For the first time in a week I had running water in my room. It was all superdeluxe. After all the hands had been played, I walked across the grass lawn between the kitchen and my room and paused to sit and admire the black sky overcrowded with stars. It was serene and beautiful, and I thought to myself, “What the —-  am I doing with my life?”

First, how I got to Nepal:

My senior year of college brought me, for the first time in my life, the sickening sensation that I may not have control over my future. Friends were signing up left and right to join the investment banking ranks a couple hours north in New York. They received signing bonuses and picked out neighborhoods, made plans to live together. Others, those who had spent four years in a liberal arts major as I had, were lining up marketing jobs or preparing for an internship before heading off to law school. Or at least that’s how it felt at the time,

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HoopSpeak Live 71: Kevin Pelton

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s HoopSpeak Live featured a discussion of David Stern’s legacy followed by an interview with guest Kevin Pelton (SMASH!) of Basketball Prospectus. You can buy Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-2013 here or here.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that your favorite player will outperform his SCHOENE preojection.

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Would you like Ray Allen to lie?

We desperately want to know these athletes, but we refuse to have a grownup conversation with them. We’re really too angry and jealous to be trusted with so much as a paragraph of their actual thoughts. If a quote can be potentially mocked, it will often get suctioned into the LOL vortex, where middle school sneering obliterates all memory of the source material context. If a great many fans are already angry at the quote giver, then LOL framing gives way to STFU framing. Mad people like to stay mad, or at least, to validate their rage. If you already hate an athlete, you’re liable to sculpt his sentences into one, long, middle finger.

It would seem that a certain former Celtic is trapped in that STFU box because he joined a historically hated franchise. Ray Allen is 37 years old. His team was inclined towards a future involving other, younger options. Allen wanted a different style of play from Boston’s PG-dominant approach. Few expected Ray to get through five Celtics seasons when he was traded there at age 32, so you could say that it’s been a bountiful relationship for both parties.

This is one of the most common occurrences in the NBA, as aging stars often believe in themselves more than their teams do. Reggie Miller is an exception that proves the rule. Even the most cherished, beloved players are either forced to go, or depart on their own accord–often in pursuit of championship.

And for the most part, they are forgiven for doing so, even if the new squad is a rival. Laker fans had few bad words for Derek Fisher when he signed with OKC. Robert Horry was a beloved kind of foe when he came back to Staples in a Spurs jersey. Rasheed

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The Rise and Fall and Rise of Jared Sullinger

Before every season, the league sends its GMs a survey with more or less the same questions. Then we get to look at it and mock it in a panoply of ways. There are always the requisite knee-slappers (somebody thinks Carmelo Anthony will be the MVP, somebody thinks Boston signing Darko Milicic was the most underrated player acquisition this offseason), but there are also things that are telling about the perplexing psyches of NBA general managers and how the decisions they make create the fabric of the league. Case in point: Jared Sullinger.

Before he forewent the 2011 NBA Draft, Sullinger was considered a top 5 prospect. A back-to-the-basket threat who scored efficiently and rebounded well, Sullinger sounds like he should have been a lock for the lottery based on his Draft Express scouting report from February of 2012. At least until the last line, which reads, “The one thing NBA teams will want to study intently is Sullinger’s medical report, as he’s been slowed this season by back spasms caused by an aggravated disc and plantar fasciitis, being forced to sit out two games in December.”

So intently did they study it, in fact, that Sullinger slipped in the draft—as was forecast—all the way down to the Celtics at #21. Even as he slipped, the consensus was that he was going to be a solid player who could contribute to a team right away. He might not have had the upside of an Anthony Davis or a Bradley Beal, but in the top half of the first round, what are teams really looking for but players who can contribute immediately?

With multiple picks for some teams, Sullinger’s slide meant that 16 GMs passed on Sullinger, or better than half the league. The Rockets took not one but TWO

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HoopSpeak Live 70: Seth Rosenthal

By @AnthonyBain

Today’s HoopSpeak Live guest is Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting. The show also features discussion of Ethan’s TrueHoop piece that took over the internet and Beckley’s Chuck Klosterman impression.

If you’d rather view the show directly on Spreecast, click here.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. You can find the audio-only version on iTunes and Stitcher. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Rasheed Wallace will suit up for your favorite team.

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Understanding the Portland Pathology

Bruce Ely/ The Oregonian

Portland had a beautiful summer. The driest in some years, I was told. I moved here in April, during the final throes of the rainy season, and after just a few weeks of intermittent showers, I was living in one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. I got in the habit of running up to the International Rose Test Garden, which is about a mile directly uphill from my house. From there, among the roses, you can see out over the city to the peak of Mt. Hood on clear days. The best part, though, is the air. Portland’s air has a year-long winter sharpness to it that feels perpetually pine filtered and mountain chilled. It’s extremely refreshing. Turns out, it’s also crazy toxic.

When outsiders think about Portland, they see a sort of American Sweden, a place where, crummy weather aside, everything pretty much works. Food trucks and bike lanes and public transit and community gardens — a veritable carnival of yuppie better living. Those things are here, but focusing on them exclusively misses the point. Portland is an industrial town on a river, overstuffed with the homeless and runaways. Pointing this out is not an effort to claim some sort of Philadelphia clichéd “grittiness,” but to highlight how unlikely the identity of this city is.

Portland has a river, yes, but so does Cincinatti. There is no beautiful coastline here, no top-tier college. The mountains, though visible, have little impact on the town. It really does rain for at least seven months a year. What I’m saying is: this town of gourmet cuisine, of overeducated 27 year-old baristas and graphic designers and urban farmers — it could not have happened here by accident. It has happened here because it is

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