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Liberty Links: Bryan Colangelo ranked 21 out of 30 NBA general managers

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It could be worse?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers are in a downward spiral, the Sixers are running out of guys to play basketball, and the NBA MVP race is still red hot.

Happy Friday, let’s dive in:

Russell Westbrook is the only real MVP choice — Zito Madu, SB Nation

I don’t agree with the headline — and neither does the article that follows it, really — but the rationale within this piece is an important read for people dismissing Westbrook’s MVP case. We are witnessing one of the craziest seasons in the history of the league, and several players have legitimate claims on the league’s top individual honor. Rather than resorting to sniping at the player we feel is “least” worthy, a celebration of the collective greatness feels more appropriate.

That said, I need this meme to result in a happy ending:

Can the Cavs flip the switch in the playoffs? — Rob Mahoney, Sports Illustrated

This is a more interesting, nuanced question than yesterday’s question of, “Are the Cavs still contenders?” Cleveland’s defense is horrendous, and no team has ever been a real threat to win the title with a defense as poor as theirs has been.

There is some level of complacency with Cleveland at the moment, but there are several new developments (this season, anyway) worth considering. Tristian Thompson hasn’t had a big man in front of him to absorb a lot of the minutes at center — as he has in years past — and the non-LeBron Cavs will have to prove they still have the legs to turn up the volume again in May and June.

The Cavs might actually be in trouble -- Chris Herring, Five Thirty Eight

Another reasoned look at one of the NBA’s central questions at the moment. Chris points out that Cleveland’s point differential is much, much worse after the All-Star break than any Finals team LeBron has played on since 2010:

This is basically the exact opposite of peaking at the right time. They still have LeBron, though, so I just assume they will figure this out somehow.

We saw the future of basketball — Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer

We’re a long way off from seeing just how much the small-ball revolution will impact the skill sets of young players, but up-tempo, spread-the-floor basketball has been in style long enough to leave an impression. Teams like the early-2000s Kings, Seven Seconds or Less Suns, and a number of others showed players of all sizes that the old way of basketball can be overthrown. The future is closer than you think.

Markelle Fultz is about that action, boss

Stay woke, Lonzo Ball.

ESPN ranks Bryan Colangelo as 21st best president/GM

As with Brett Brown a day prior, this feels pretty fair to Colangelo. He’s above the dysfunctional tier and a few of the more meh executives around the league, but firmly in the back half of the executive order.

Shaquille O’Neal is mad about LeBron passing him on the all-time scoring list

No one will ever accuse the former center of downplaying something for the cameras.

Florida kid with no arms hits buzzer-beating shot

I’m really starting to run out of excuses for my broke-ass jumper. Kudos to this kid for not letting obstacles stand in his way.