The NBA's big second-half storylines

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Anthony

As an iso-inclined, defense-optional salary hog, Anthony epitomizes what's wrong with the Knicks. Ironically, he's also one of the team's few bright spots this season. Melo's having his second-best PER season of his career, while getting little help from his teammates. The Knicks are 20-32, but it's hard to pin that on of the few guys producing on a nightly basis.

Much will be made about whether he returns to New York, and whether the Knicks should commit to him long term. Despite this awful Knicks season, Melo's showing that he may well be worth it, despite the flaws.


2014 draft backlash

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Wiggins

Among movie lines that explain NBA draft sociology, " As long as you can't see what's in this hand, you'll always want it more," is certainly up there. Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker loomed larger in the imagination before they played weeks of imperfect, nationally televised college games. Now people aren't so keen on what was supposed to be an all-time-great draft.

The one-and-done era has brought with it an emerging pattern. A draft's prospects are hyped in the run up to their quasi-compulsory year of college ball. As freshmen, they underwhelm the massive expectations. After that, the draft is declared either "weak" or "overrated" months before quite a few NBA rookies surprise us with quality play. Andre Drummond is the human embodiment of this whole process.

Some drafts actually are weak, but our collective predictive powers are probably weaker. It's difficult for anyone to account for which relatively obscure players will unexpectedly become famous stars later on. The 2014 draft has great potential to impress us, even though most are currently disappointed in it.


The Jason Collins shadow

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Collins

The high-character big man is still without a team, which looks worse if the supposedly more oppressively repressed NFL drafts an openly gay player. Perhaps a lack of merit is what keeps Collins out of the league, but the fact remains that no active gay NBA player has ever felt comfortable enough to publicly acknowledge his lifestyle.

Does a team finally allow Collins to break this longstanding barrier? Or does some other player on a roster conjure the courage to drag the NBA forward?

Ethan Sherwood Strauss is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. Follow him, @SherwoodStrauss

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