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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 12/27

Basketball Insiders looks at some articles from last week in case you missed any the first time around.

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Hassan Whiteside Rises

By Moke Hamilton

Nestled away in a corner of the Miami HEAT’s locker room, Dwyane Wade, clearly caught off guard by my question, sat and thought for a moment. He sighed and raised his eyebrows as he thought about his response.

“When I look up and down the centers in the Eastern Conference, I can’t say too many have made a bigger impact at this point,” Wade told Basketball Insiders.

Wade had just finished putting on one of his finer performances in years and, afterward, all everyone wanted to discuss was what had gotten into him. I, on the other hand, had other ideas.

“What kind of revelation has Hassan Whiteside been?” was the question.

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Jeremy Lamb Makes The Leap in Charlotte

By Joel Brigham

It took a few years, but Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb finally has come into his own as an NBA player. In his fourth season as a pro, Lamb is averaging just shy of 12 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting from the floor – both of which are career highs. But, most importantly, he’s finally playing an important role on a team that truly needs him – averaging 22.5 minutes and 9.9 shot attempts per game, which are also career-highs. That, he says, is what has made all the difference this season and allowed him to nearly double his offensive output.

“It’s all opportunity,” Lamb told Basketball Insiders. “I sat on the bench for the first three years of my career, so opportunity has a big effect on the success I’ve had this year.”

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Bazemore Playing Best Basketball of Career

By Cody Taylor

Each year, a number of NBA players take that next step in their development to elevate their game to the next level. These players typically see a spike in playing time, which helps produce bigger numbers.

Injuries sometimes play a factor in earning a bigger role, while other times that “next man up” mantra sets in after the departure of a key player. Regardless of the situation, there always seems to be a guy that plays his way into a meaningful role with a team.

For the Atlanta Hawks this season, that player seems to be fourth-year forward Kent Bazemore. It seems the departure of DeMarre Carroll has opened up a hole in the lineup for Bazemore. He’s in his second season in a Hawks uniform, and he has taken his increased role and made the most out of it.

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Garnett Enjoys (Final?) Boston Homecoming

By Jessica Camerato

Kevin Garnett sat on the bench, focused and zoned in on the game until just the right moment.

With the TD Garden crowd chanting, “We want KG,” throughout the night, the former Boston Celtic remained on the sideline to follow his schedule of not playing in back-to-backs for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The chants grew louder quarter by quarter. Garnett had changed the direction of the Celtics, helped bring a championship to the city and breathed a fire of defensive intensity into the organization. He had been gone for two seasons now, traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2013, but his contributions are timeless.

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Barton Making Case For Sixth Man Honors

By Lang Greene

It is a known fact that most second-round NBA draft picks don’t pan out at the professional level. It seemed that the same fate awaited wing Will Barton, who was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 40th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

During his first two seasons in the league, Barton averaged a modest four points per contest in under 15 minutes of court time. In Barton’s rookie campaign, he appeared in 73 contests and even registered five starts. During his second season, Barton appeared in just 43 games and his minutes took a dip.

Complicating matters for Barton was the fact he was firmly behind established veterans Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum on the depth chart and Portland was a team with title aspirations, which is never good for a youngster trying to find his niche.

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Drama and Trade Rumors Surround Bulls

By Alex Kennedy

The Chicago Bulls haven’t gotten off to the start that many expected, with the team currently sitting at 15-11 (putting them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference).

While they have the second-ranked defense in the NBA, the Bulls’ offense hasn’t improved under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. In fact they have been worse on that end of the floor, as the offense ranks 27th in the NBA – ahead of only the struggling Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers.

With a logjam in their frontcourt, many people around the league predicted over the summer that Chicago would eventually shop one of their big men. And now, with the team dropping three straight games and having a number of issues, the front office is considering potential trades.

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Time For Some NBA Re-Gifting?

By Steve Kyler

With the holiday upon us, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a safe and Merry Christmas. While what we do is often taken way more seriously than it really is, I do at times like to take stock in where we are and what we do. It’s because of you that we have a place to talk basketball and share thoughts and ideas. We would not be here without you, and sometimes your place in our equation may not get the appreciation it deserves. So thank you for caring about what we do. Enjoy the holiday and know that all of us from the Basketball Insiders family wish you and yours the very best this holiday season.

Let’s get on with the show.

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Eric Bledsoe Reaching New Heights

By Jesse Blancarte

It has been a tough season so far for the Phoenix Suns. In a surprisingly weak Western Conference, the Suns currently sit in 11th place with a 12-19 record. There are several issues for the Suns right now, including the ongoing Markieff Morris situation, Tyson Chandler’s injuries, close losses to mediocre teams, poor crunch-time execution, turning the ball over too much and poor defense in transition among other things. While the Suns have failed to meet expectations so far, Eric Bledsoe has been a bright spot for Phoenix this season.

Between the large number of star point guards in the NBA today and the Suns’ recent struggles, Bledsoe’s career-year has gone largely unnoticed. In 35 minutes per game, Bledsoe is averaging 20.9 points, 6.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three. He is averaging career-highs in scoring, assists and steals and is shooting the ball as well as ever with a 55.7 True Shooting Percentage.

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Kyle Cape-Lindelin is based out of Portland, OR covering the NBA while being one of the newsline editors and contributor to "Out of Bounds."

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