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Basketball Insiders Week in Review 2/22

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

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James Harden Reflects On Growth As A Player

By John Zitzler

It wasn’t long ago that James Harden was a key member of an up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder team. He, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook formed one of the most dynamic offensive trios in the league. While Harden was used primarily in a sixth man role, he was already beginning to develop into a terrific scorer. It was in his second season, during the 2011 playoffs when we first started to see glimpses of the player Harden would become. During the Thunder’s playoff run that year, he was second on the team in assists per game (3.6) and third in scoring (13). He was being asked to take on a bigger role and was thriving.

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Jazz Developing, Identifying Franchise Cornerstones

By EJ Ayala

As one of the teams sending multiple players to All-Star Weekend, the Utah Jazz have to feel pretty good about how they’ve been evaluating, drafting and developing talent. While a record of 19-34 may not seem like something to get excited about, considering the Jazz finished last season 25-57, you can already see that this group is making progress. When you factor in that this is one of the youngest teams in the league, as well as the pace at which they are starting to flourish under new head coach Quin Snyder, it’s clear that there’s something special brewing in the beehive state.

Watching the Rising Stars Challenge this weekend, it didn’t take very long for the trio of Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke and Dante Exum to make an impact out on the hardwood. It even led to Chris Webber, who was covering the game for TNT, to remark that he needed to watch more Jazz games. NBA League Pass is a good thing, my friends.

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Hawks Riding Team Chemistry For Early Success

By Lang Greene

Chemistry remains one of the most underrated aspects of building a title contender in the NBA. This isn’t to say talent is an unnecessary requirement for winning at a high level, but year after year some of the most skilled teams fall short come playoff time and the reason typically stems from a lack of complete trust when true adversity arises.

The Atlanta Hawks headed into the All-Star break with the second-best record in the league at 43-11. Their start to the season has defied the vast majority of preseason predictions and now the focus has turned toward the Hawks making a legitimate run for the Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

Sure, you could make a strong argument about there being more top-heavy and talented teams in the league than the Hawks, but Atlanta’s team chemistry and belief in head coach Mike Budenholzer’s system has been a true difference maker – and one of the reasons the franchise boasts four All-Stars this season.

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Anthony Davis Continues to Grow (Literally)

By Joel Brigham

It sure didn’t take long for New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis to establish himself as the most well-rounded player in the entire NBA. He did it in just his third NBA season, at 21 years old, dominating on both ends of the floor.

Davis credits the quick adjustment to his commitment to the weight room.

“Just getting stronger [was the toughest thing],” Davis said of his biggest challenge entering the NBA. “There are a lot of grown men in this league, and they’ve got a lot of strength and power. So I think the biggest thing for me was just getting stronger and being able to hold my own… not let guys push you around.”

A quick look at the healthy weight gain since his rookie season shows he’s absolutely on the right track.

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The Ideal Specialist: Kyle Korver

By Yannis Koutroupis

Every year, there are a handful of players who catch on with an NBA team while only having one true pro-level skill. They’re serviceable in just about every area of the game, but there’s only one aspect of the game where they really can make a difference. Some are defenders, rebounders, playmakers or – in the case of Atlanta Hawks All-Star Kyle Korver – shooters.

The terms specialist and All-Star rarely go in the same sentence. They certainly weren’t used together when talking about Korver coming out of Creighton, where he had a strong career, but was far from a surefire pro. He was the 51st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, which just barely earned him a non-guaranteed contract and an opportunity to try out for the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Hawks Look to Keep Successful Season Going

By Cody Taylor

The Hawks have made the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons and currently lead the NBA in wins at the All-Star break with 43. The argument can be made that this year’s squad is the best they’ve had during their current seven-year postseason streak.

This team is well on their way to a 60-win season and has already posted impressive wins over some of the league’s best teams. They were well represented during All-Star weekend, with four players in the All-Star game and other players in every event besides the Dunk Contest. The world knows about the Hawks’ success up to this point and it’s now on them to keep it going.

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Five NBA Teams That Should Make a Move

By Moke Hamilton

With only a few days remaining before the February 19 NBA trading deadline, general managers across the league are sleeping a little less and spending a bit more time on their phones.

According to reports, few general managers have been as busy as Billy King out in Brooklyn. With owner Mikhail Prokhorov looking to divest his majority interest in the team, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in the precarious position of being an aging, underachieving bunch. It should then come as no surprise that the Nets have reportedly shopped Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson over the course of the past few weeks.

Out West, as Goran Dragic prepares for his bout with unrestricted free agency and what could be maximum-salaried offers from the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns are in discussion mode, as well. With the Oklahoma City Thunder nipping at their heels and the Suns barely holding on to the eighth seed out West, any such trade for Dragic would be done solely as a proactive maneuver to avoid losing him for nothing via free agency.

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Five NBA Teams That Don’t Need a Trade

By Jesse Blancarte

There is less than 24 hours remaining before tomorrow’s trade deadline, which means league executives are actively working the phones in search of favorable deals. The Denver Nuggets remain the team to keep an eye on as they have several impact veterans that could be had for the right price, such as Wilson Chandler and Arron Afflalo.

Goran Dragic caught the league’s collective attention last night after Sam Amick of USA Today Sports reported that Dragic informed Phoenix Suns executives that he would not re-sign with Phoenix after the season. Dragic is reportedly looking for a team to run on his own (rather than sharing point guard duties), and is interested in joining teams like the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami HEAT or Indiana Pacers. Considering this, the Nuggets and Suns are the two teams that are most likely to make major deals by tomorrow.

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How Kyle Lowry Emerged as a Star

By Alex Kennedy

Kyle Lowry has never lacked confidence. For the first eight seasons of his NBA career, he wasn’t named to the All-Star team and often flew under the radar. This frustrated the point guard, as he felt he was on the same level as the players who were being selected to the midseason classic each year.

“Of course I thought I was as good as those guys,” Lowry said with a grin.

Instead of getting upset about the lack of recognition he was receiving, Lowry used the slight as extra motivation and pushed himself so that one day he’d be recognized as an All-Star-caliber player (by someone other than himself).

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NBA Trade Deadline Deals: One Year Later

By Jessica Camerato

The NBA trade deadline is often a flurry of moves – some expected, others seemingly out of nowhere. Some are made for playoff pushes, others to clear cap space. As the minutes count down to 3 p.m. ET on February 19, there will be transactions that leave a lasting impression and those that have people asking “remember that?” Take a look back at the trades made on the 2014 deadline day and their impact a year later.

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NBA Trade Deadline Notebook

By Jabari Davis

Those of us that generally lament the unsatisfied feeling often attributed to the NBA’s annual trading deadline definitely got all that we could have anticipated (and then some) from the flurry of deals and transactions that took place leading up to yesterday’s 12 p.m. ET deadline. In total, more than 35 players and contracts were relocated in what was likely the most active deadline day in recent years.

With so many teams either looking to cement their title hopes, solidify rosters for a playoff push or creatively positioning themselves for the lottery-race at the bottom of the standings, we suppose all of the activity should not have come as a surprise. Here’s a look at some of the more noteworthy deals of the day:

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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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