• Stan Van Gundy discusses Dwight Howard’s fit with the Lakers and the Magic’s fall from the NBA’s elite.
• Sebastian Pruiti, writing at Grantland, examines how Jeremy Lin and Kyle Lowry fared in the pick-and-roll last season.
• Andrew Sharp of SB Nation on the evolution of Team USA from the lows of 2004 and 2006 to today’s highs:
It’s tempting to look for a savior in all this, but none of this happened because of Coach K or Jerry Colangelo or David Stern or any other miracle-worker you might see credited. The redemption of USA hoops is just a testament to the game itself, the way it evolves, and a generation of superstars who’ve either matured beyond their years or been humbled by mistakes and lessons along the way, bouncing back smarter and stronger than ever.
• ESPN.com’s Beckey Mason is bullish on the super-fun Nuggets.
• Confession: I am a huge fan of Family Feud. I don’t watch it much anymore because I’m not in college and/or unemployed, but I have long enjoyed the format. It would probably be my top choice for mainstream game show I’d like to host, edging out The Price Is Right. I will say, though, that I’m sometimes dismayed by the way the Feud has introduced “funny” survey questions obviously intended to encourage R-rated answers. I liked when those answers came out more organically. That said, give me an NBA tie-in, and I’m happy.
• Hawks general manager Danny Ferry opens up about team-building. Ferry makes the already much-repeated claim that he tried to talk about Howard trades with the Magic, but that Orlando officials appeared reluctant to deal the star center within the division. First, take this with a grain of salt. Ferry has an incentive to tell fans that he tried his best to get the league’s best big man. Second, the reaction to Ferry’s disclosure has been predictably anti-Magic: “How could they be so dumb as to let something as antiquated as divisional boundaries preclude them from even considering an Al Horford/Jeff Teague package?”
It’s a fair question, if that package was even a little bit available. But a lot of those same critics questioned Denver’s judgment in facilitating Howard’s trade to the Lakers, creating a short-term Western Conference powerhouse above Denver in the pecking order. The Orlando/Denver situations aren’t perfectly equivalent here because the Nuggets are young and very good, and the Lakers — the new super-team in their conference — are aging with a limited time frame of dominance. But it’s still an interesting discussion.
• The Steve Nash/Howard pick-and-roll is going to be devastating. We can pore over all the fit questions that emerge in the wake of a trade like this — the Kobe Bryant/Nash dynamic, the skill overlap between Pau Gasol and Howard, etc. But at some point, talent wins out, and something as simple and powerful as a single play just overwhelms all of these questions. Howard has never played with an elite pick-and-roll point guard, with perhaps the exception of Jameer Nelson in the first half of 2008-09, and now he has the best pick-and-roll distributor in the league.
• A splashy scouting hire, as scouting hires go, for the Magic.
• With the Howard trade done, Tom Ziller of SB Nation looks at the next four superstars primed to monopolize our time with a never-ending trade/free agency/general crankiness saga. He even provides potential “Dwightmare”-style nicknames for each saga. I like Kevtastrophe.
• If all goes well, where might the 2012-13 Lakers rank in franchise history? (Note: This is an ESPN Insider article.)
• A very smart post, with video, on how the Nets might be able to use elements of an old Atlanta set for Joe Johnson.
• Sam Smith of NBA.com with an absolutely fantastic profile of Brian Scalabrine, who remains unsigned but is unwilling to give up on the NBA. Scalabrine really opens up here. There are too many great quotes to pull out one or two, so I’ll just encourage you to click over and think about a few things, including: Are effort and intelligence “skills,” and where do they rank in the skill hierarchy?
• Can the Jazz find significant minutes for all four of their rotation big men – Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter?
• Hold on: The International Olympic Committee is thinking of adding 3-on-3 basketball to the Olympics? Do we just stop at LeBron-Durant-Howard, or is there a roster more ideally suited to three-man play in some way?
• How did you spend your summer? Aaron McGuire of the blog Gothic Ginobili is doing capsules on every NBA player. Today’s trio is here, with links to previous editions.