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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 12/7

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

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Which Players Have a Case for Most Improved?

By EJ Ayala

Every offseason, players put in extra work in an effort to make that next leap in their development and take their game to the next level. Everything from a return from an injury, a new role on a team, an increase in playing time or a team’s changing style can have an effect on a player’s individual impact. So far in the 2014-15 NBA season, which players have impressed and have a shot at winning this year’s Most Improved Player award? Here are a few names to keep in mind:

 

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Houston’s Rocket Fuel

By Moke Hamilton

Deep down inside, James Harden always knew that he was more than one whose destiny was to merely take flight in an atmosphere surrounded by simple creatures.

Relegated to sixth man and commonly discounted among the game’s other titans, deep down inside, he knew that he had the potential to be one that soared not in awe of LeBron James or Chris Paul, but with them.

And when Harden looked at the likes of Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony and even his own teammate, Kevin Durant, he knew, deep down inside, that he had the ability to soar with the celestials.

So, it is quite fitting that he became a Houston Rocket.

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Westbrook’s Return Immediately Impacts OKC Thunder

By Susan Bible

What started as excited chatter last week swelled to thunderous cheering in Oklahoma City when Russell Westbrook returned to the court a couple days ago. Projected to miss four to six weeks after fracturing his hand in the second game of the season, he made his return in exactly 30 days.

When it became clear he was indeed returning on the early side of projections, Westbrook shared his thoughts about finally resuming his season.

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Looking At The Numbers

By Steve Kyler

The NBA, in partnership with SportVU, installed motion tracking cameras into every NBA venue last year and began producing a wide range of player tracking type stats. With SportVu coming into its second year of being widely used in the NBA, some of the data that can be extracted becomes interesting, especially when you are valuating how well specific players are doing.

While there is wealth of new data to comb through, here is a look at some of the leaders in various areas.

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NBA Fantasy: Five Buy-Low Candidates

By Joel Brigham

A little over a month into the regular season, now is a perfectly appropriate time to start giving serious consideration to making some trades to improve your fantasy basketball roster. There are a million ways to go about doing this, but one of the most effective is to buy low on a player you think projects to perform better than their current statistics show.

Just like every year, there are plenty of candidates for precisely this kind of trade. Here’s a handful of this season’s most likely buy-low players:

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Grizzlies’ Chemistry is Key to Success

By Alex Kennedy

The Memphis Grizzlies organization understands the importance of continuity and chemistry. Take one look at their roster and this is evident, as much of their team has been together for years. The organization has kept the team’s core four intact in recent years, inking Mike Conley (eight seasons in Memphis), Marc Gasol (seven seasons), Zach Randolph (six seasons) and Tony Allen (five seasons) to multiple contract extensions.

This leads to excellent chemistry between the team’s top contributors, which is very important, yet often overlooked in the NBA. Each year, the Grizzlies make a few tweaks to their supporting cast (such as adding Vince Carter this offseason and Courtney Lee during last season), but the core remains the same. Gasol and Randolph form one of the best starting frontcourts in the league, Allen provides perimeter defense and toughness, and Conley runs the show as one of the game’s most underrated point guards.

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The Good: What’s Working Around the NBA

By Cody Taylor

Most NBA teams are approaching the 20-game mark of their respective season, which means roughly a quarter of the season is in the books. Over the course of the first month or so, there have been some great performances by players and teams and there have been some bad performances. Some of those performances have been expected, while many have been surprising. During the course of this week, we will recap the good, the bad and the ugly of what we’ve seen thus far this season.

Here are some situations that have been good to watch:

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The Bad: What’s Not Working Around The NBA

By John Zitzler

As we enter December, the NBA season is really starting to take shape. There is still a long way to go, but we are beginning to see how things may play out as the season progresses. The Memphis Grizzlies have jumped out to a terrific start, making a case that they should be viewed as serious title contenders and as one of the best teams in the West. The East, on the other hand, again appears to be the inferior conference, anchored by the winless Philadelphia Sixers, who have seemingly refined tanking into art form. In terms of what’s working and what’s not, you could say the Sixers and the Grizzlies represent opposite ends of the spectrum.

This week, Basketball Insiders is taking a look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly around the NBA to break down what has gone right, what has gone wrong and what has failed miserably. Yesterday, we kicked it off with The Good. Today, we take a glance at a number of situations that haven’t worked out quite as well.

Here are a few of the more disappointing storylines early on in this NBA season.

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Spurs Veterans Set Up Young Teammates to Succeed

By Jessica Camerato

The saying goes, “Help me help you.”

The San Antonio Spurs take it one step further.

The defending NBA champions are led by a trio of veterans who have clocked over 118,000 minutes between their regular season and playoff games. In order for the Spurs to continue their success, they need their younger players to shoulder some of the weight absorbed by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

These vets pour into their teammates, offering advice, leading by example and setting the tone every game and practice of the season. By helping the younger Spurs become better, it helps them and the entire team.

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Stephen Curry Talks About Being Underpaid

By Lang Greene

Outside the arena in the realm of league executives, away from the flashy passes, thunderous dunks and three-point marksmanship one thing is clear: The NBA is a business and run by shrewd business minds who are always on the hunt to capitalize on a situation and in turn maximize potential profits.

We often hear about lopsided deals signed by players where most believe the athlete laughed straight to the bank for getting far and away above their respective market value. But what often doesn’t get attention is when those same league executives are able to pull off the same type of maneuver – on a player.

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The Ugly: What Has Gone Horribly Wrong Around The NBA

By Jabari Davis

We continue this week’s multi-part series that began with the ‘Good‘ and ‘Bad‘ teams thus far in the 2014-15 season with today’s focus on the downright ugly situations around the league. These are the teams that made additions or have chosen strategies that have yielded results ranging from flat-out bad in some cases to full-on catastrophes in others:

 

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The Market for Rajon Rondo

By Yannis Koutroupis

A 109-102 overtime victory against Detroit Pistons may have been enough to end the Boston Celtics’ five-game losing streak, but at just 5-11 overall this season, emotions are running high as the time to make some tough decisions is nearing.

As Rajon Rondo and the Celtics’ decision-makers exchanged pleasantries leading up to the season, much of the league wondered how long the mood would remain so light between the two parties. Rondo, set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, is off to a productive, but highly inefficient start this season. He’s regularly flirting with triple-doubles, averaging 8.3 points, 10.9 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game, but he’s shooting just 41 percent from the field, 28 percent from distance and a horrific 30 percent from the charity stripe. He’s also turning it over 3.5 times a contest.

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10 Takeaways from 2014-15 NBA Operations Manual

By Eric Pincus

The NBA annually updates its operations manual, a 750-page beast that breaks down the rules of the league from the anti-drug program, to court dimensions, to in-game music.

Some of the items make absolute sense — others make no sense at all.

Here are 10 takeaways from the 2014-15 NBA Operations Manual.

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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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