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Tag:2010 World Championships
Posted on: August 23, 2010 8:42 am
 

Shootaround 8.23.10: Pool shots

"" Posted by Royce Young
  • Pete Thamel of the New York Times on the brilliant move by Team USA to go zone in the final possession yesterday: "American basketball coaches are rarely credited for their tactics at the international level; they are expected to have the most athletic and talented team. But what made the move to the 2-3 zone so effective was the coaching staff’s understanding of a nuance of international rules. Team USA expected Spain to run a high screen-and-roll for Juan Carlos Navarro, who led Spain with 20 points and prompted Boeheim to say, half kidding, that he had scored on that play on five consecutive possessions. Instead, when the United States went to the zone, Spain had to scrap its play and could not call another timeout because FIBA rules do not allow them in the middle of possessions."
  • Mike Wells of the Indy Star: "I think it's funny that some fans immediately put the Pacers in the playoffs after they acquired Darren Collison. Darren Collison is just one piece - a giant piece I might add - but they've still got some work to do if they expect to end their four-year postseason drought. No matter what you thought of Troy Murphy's defensive flaws, the Pacers will have to find a way to make up for the 11.0 rebounds he averaged the past two seasons. Roy Hibbert was second in rebounds at 5.7 last season. That won't get it done. Pacers officials know it, too."
  • Brian Robb of Celtics Hub looks deeper into Rajon Rondo's DNP yesterday: "Ultimately, the biggest question coming out of this game for C’s fans is likely whether Derrick Rose played himself ahead of Rondo into the starting lineup for this tournament. I know it’s just an exhibition game, but Rose played well today (13 points) against a superior opponent, providing crucial scores in the game’s closing minutes, including the game winning free throws."
  • Steve Nash coulda been rich man, says Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: "Alas, Steve Nash chose the security of the two years and comfort with the organization in signing the deal, but after enjoying such a spectacular season last year he probably would have been in line for a nice raise on the open market. I bet he could have gotten something in the area of three years and $40 million."
Posted on: August 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 5:35 pm
 

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Posted by Royce Young

With about 90 seconds left in Team USA's game against Spain Sunday, I had to stop and remind myself, "Wait, this is an exhibition. It doesn't even count." But it felt like it did. And both teams played as if it did.

In a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game and what might have been a preview of this year's title game in Turkey, Team USA defeated Spain 86-85 in front of a rowdy sold out crowd in Madrid.

The game came down to a final possession as Kevin Durant bothered Ricky Rubio into an airball then won it for the U.S. with a block on Rudy Fernandez as time expired. Derrick Rose came up big for Team USA in crunch time on the other end hitting two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put the U.S. up one.

Early on, it looked like the Americans would cruise to an easy victory. The States jumped out to a 16-3 lead hitting seven of their first 10 shots while Spain was ice cold, starting just 1-10. But the Spaniards were pesky. Despite the sluggish start, Spain stayed close and used a big third quarter run to cut the U.S. to two, eventually tying the score at 80-80 with about three minutes left in the fourth.

The game against Lithuania was an excellent learning experience for the young group of Americans because Team USA had to overcome some adversity and poor offense to eventually pull away from a gritty group. Today's game against Spain is an equally important test but in a different way. Team USA was pushed and had to figure out what it would do in difficult times. Where does the ball go in crunch time? Who's handling the ball in a close game? Who's defending their playmakers? All these questions finally got a first answer put to them.

Durant finally found his offense, scoring 25 points in his usual effortless manner. He was 9-16 from the floor and in key moments late, the offense centered around him. After Spain took its first lead of the game 82-80 with about two minutes remaining, the U.S. immediately went to Durant who hit a tough baseline runner to knot the score again. It may have been only an exhibition, but these were some defining moments for Team USA, as this young group begins to find some identity and understand roles.

Another potentially interesting thing to mention was Coach K's rotations at the end of the game. Lamar Odom saw time at center over Tyson Chandler who didn't play well. Also, Russell Westbrook subbed in on defense for Chauncey Billups meaning that Westbrook likely will make the final 12-man if anything for at least a defensive stopper.

Both Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo sat today, but the feeling there is that it was for no other reason than to get some rest and give some extended looks to guys competing for that final spot. Kevin Love also didn't play because of a hard fall Saturday against Lithuania, but is fine and will be ready for the next game.

Obviously, with this being a friendly, it's safe to assume both teams held a little something back. Both squads surely expect to each one another again at some point in the tournament and didn't want to show too many cards. But at the same time, both groups wanted to win. Spain's guards were tough for the U.S. to handle and Marc Gasol chewed up Team USA on the inside. On the flip side, the Team USA's athleticism was too much for Spain to keep up with and in big moments the U.S. had proven playmakers while Spain didn't have somewhere to go.

If we really learned anything certain to take away from this exhibition it's that if these two teams meet again, it should be a whole heck of a lot of fun.

Posted on: August 21, 2010 7:41 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Team USA struggles, beats Lithuania 77-61

Posted by Royce Young

It may have just been an exhibition, but Team USA was pushed Saturday against Lithuania for three quarters, before pulling away to a 77-61 in Madrid. The reasons for the closer-than-expected game? Sloppy passing, bad offense and more bad offense.

What kept the U.S. from being blown out in the first 20 minutes was a strong defensive effort that held Lithuania to just 28 first half points. The problem though, was that the Americans only had 29. A lot of the issues could be summed up in a wide open fast break dunk blown by Rudy Gay. The U.S. was careless with the ball, missed open jumpers and didn't finish the easy inside looks.

The guy that is supposed to be reliable on the offensive end continued to struggle a bit. Kevin Durant led the team with 15 points, but missed every outside jumper he took and scored mostly at the rim and from the free throw line. So far in his three international games, Durant is 14-38 from the floor and 0-7 from 3. As someone that's watched Durant play a lot, it looks to me like he's pressing a bit.

In games where Durant wasn't able to just relax and play, he struggled at times last season. Coach K talked about how KD needed to be more unselfish and sometimes with a guy like Durant who plays a certain way without thinking much about it, that can get into his head some. There's obviously nothing to worry about with KD because he's got one of the smoothest strokes in the game and can score 25 in his sleep, but his three games thus far haven't exactly set the world on fire. I have no doubt he'll get it going though because even in games where he doesn't play exceptional, he's always good. Heck, even games he goes 13-17 for 44 points he thinks all night about the four missed shots. So don't fret about KD.

Durant's teammate Russell Westbrook on the other hand, made a strong statement for a roster spot. He was named MVP of the game scoring 12 points while really kicking his team into gear with a ton of high energy off the bench. He had his jumper going as he hit two 3s and was a menace defensively, hawking Lithuania's guards all over the floor. Westbrook is likely a bubble guy, but showed today where he could have value. He's not a strong shooter, but he's a player that is valuable in a number of different areas. He defends, rebounds, penetrates, creates and sometimes when he gets that jumper going, can score at will.

There's no telling which direction Jerry Colangelo and Coach K are leaning on picking between Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon and Westbrook (the three likely competing for the last roster spot) but for the most part, Curry and Gordon do the same things, at least on this roster. Westbrook provides a number of different skills. So a combination of Westbrook plus either Curry or Gordon to go with Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo might make the most sense.

It wasn't a pretty 40 minutes of basketball for the Americans, but Lithuania gave Team USA a good push. That's definitely a good thing because it gives Coach K something to point out in the film room plus is a minor wake up call that you can't just waltz through this tournament. These teams may not have a name on them that you recognize or can pronounce, but they can still play.

Team USA takes on Spain in another exhibition in Madrid Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on NBATV.
Posted on: August 20, 2010 4:56 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2010 4:58 pm
 

Playing for country, risking the future

Posted by Royce Young

If you ask Sam Presti what he thinks of three of his Thunder players competing in the World Championships, he'd give you the scripted answer. He'd say how he's excited about the opportunity for them, how he's encouraged them to play hard there and how he thinks the competition will only make them better.

Actually, Presti pretty much already said exactly that. “We know that, more than likely, our guys are going to be playing somewhere during the summer, whether it’s in a gym in L.A. or D.C. or wherever it is,” Presti said in an interview with thunder.nba .com. “But given the opportunity to compete against the best players in the NBA in a structured environment is really a great development opportunity for the guys as a whole and it’s certainly better than any pick-up game they can find elsewhere.”

But I'm guessing if you could really ask him and get a candid answer, he'd probably say he's a bit terrified. Excited for them no doubt, but certainly nervous. And you can bank that he's definitely not the only one.

With injuries piling up for NBA stars that are competing this summer internationally, the fear for coaches, GMs and fans rises as well. So far we've seen a sprained ankle for Stephen Curry, a dislocated finger for Danny Granger, an ankle injury to Anderson Varejao , plus there are potential for incidents like we saw yesterday with Nenad Krstic . Plus, the worst yet, a broken foot for Rodrigue Beaubois. Any time players compete, the chance for injury or issue is there.

Take the Dallas Mavericks for example. Other than Beaubois' injury, the Mavs have reason to squirm a bit. Tyson Chandler was one of the Mavs biggest moves of the offseason . And with the rash of problems with Team USA's big men, Chandler is the only center on the roster. That means if coach Mike Krzyzewski wants to have an actual center on the floor, Chandler would have to go the distance. That sound you just heard was Mark Cuban throwing up.

Chandler is a player that can barely go to his mailbox and grab his mail without getting hurt. And between practices, exhibition games and then actual games in Turkey, Chandler might pile up half a season of work before the season even starts. Plus, add in the fact that other teams know Chandler is the only big man on Team USA's roster, the fact other countries tend to play a little rougher against Team USA and the fact that international play can tend to get a little nasty, and you've got three strikes to be concerned about. And that's just with Tyson Chandler.

But what are teams supposed to do? Tell their guys they can't play? Of course they have to protect their investments and the best interests of their respective organizations, but you can't stop a player from playing for his country. This isn't North Korea. But at the same time, you can bet Cuban has Coach K on speed dial and has probably offered his opinion once or twice on Chandler's contributions.

There are lots of NBA players playing in the World Championships this year, as is the case now in international basketball. But for the most part, it doesn't matter if they're playing in Turkey or not, basketball players are prone to playing basketball. Whether that be on the blacktop or on the hardwood, injury risks are there all offseason . But it's not just the injury but the fatigue of playing a couple hundred extra minutes. Players might be worn down heading into training camp, a time they're supposed to be at their freshest. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks senses that concern.

“Well they’re definitely going to need some time to just decompress and relax because it’s going to be a very high-intensity tournament,They’re going to play basketball all year long. Kevin, I wanted him to take a couple of weeks off and he took two days off," Brooks said in an interview with an OKC radio station. "There’s going to be a little bit of time where I’ll say ‘OK, you guys gotta rest,’ and maybe I can rest them a few days during that month of October, but it’s going to be like pulling teeth to get those guys to sit out of things.”

Kobe Bryant talked about the kind of wear and tear he felt after playing 82 games, then another 30 or so in the postseason and then another 15 in the 2008 Olympics. He only got about a month off to recover before he was revving back up for the 2008-09 season. Players like Rajon Rondo and Lamar Odom went deep into the postseason and are experiencing that long summer. Will it effect them during a back-to-back next February? Eh, hard to say. In fact, probably not. These guys are world-class athletes in world-class shape. But mentally it can tax on a player and the perception can be that all those games have caused someone to lose a step.

The ultimate fear is what happened to Beaubois. A serious injury that could potentially have an effect on the upcoming season. I'm sure Mark Cuban had a moment of "Why in the heck is he playing in this dumb thing?" But then again, Darren Collison was injured playing pickup ball. Making it through the summer unscathed is something GMs and coaches cross their fingers for, but international competition or not, risk for injury is there. But in the case of this summer, the Worlds just present more opportunity than usual.

Playing for country is almost a duty to some of these players. It seems like lip service when people like Kevin Durant say it's a dream and the ultimate pinnacle in basketball is having a gold medal placed around your neck while your anthem blares. But to these guys, it's means something. That doesn't mean there not risks involved and that front offices and fanbases can't be fretful. But if you want your players to get better and satisfy their ambitions to wear their country's colors, you've just to cross your fingers, say a little prayer and hope come October, everything is the way it should be.
Posted on: August 19, 2010 7:28 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 10:15 pm
 

Serbia, Greece brawl, Nenad Krstic throws a chair

Posted by Royce Young

In international competition, when two teams play an exhibition game, it's called a "friendly." I think you can see where I'm going with this.

During Greece and Serbia's game today, the two teams got into a tussle. And instead of the usual pushing, shoving and trash talking in different languages, stuff actually went down. Went down as in chairs got tossed around.



As you can see, Krstic got into it with the Euro Shaq, Sofoklis Schortsanitis. And as Krstic backed his way out of the mushpot, he did what any sensible person in a basketball fight would do. He threw a chair. The bad part is, the chair appeared to catch a lot of his own team's trainer.

I have no idea what the reprecussions might be from this (or what started the fight), but it's pretty clear that Krstic v. Schortsanitis is not exactly Frazier v. Ali. But that's only in terms of actual fighting ability because in terms of entertainment, I'd say this "fight" makes grade.
Posted on: August 13, 2010 8:55 am
Edited on: August 13, 2010 11:22 am
 

Shootaround 8.13.10: Jennings sets the bar

Posted by Royce Young
  • Brandon Jennings tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel some goals for the season: "This year I'm working hard to come back," Jennings said. "I want to be a double-double guy. I feel like with the talent we have I can be that. All-star weekend is in Los Angeles, and that is a goal to be an all-star. Win 50 games, win the Central Division and get out of the first round and see what happens."
  • Carmelo Anthony was at the Team USA Showcase in New York last night and during an interview, talked a little about New York: "In his own mini-interview, Anthony was asked for his thoughts on the crowd gathered before him. He answered to the tune of resounding cheers, “New York fans have always been the best fans.” That of course is more interesting than usual because of Ken Berger's report that 'Melo wants to play in New York.
  • Derrick Favors scored 20 percent of his points last season at Georgia Tech on dunks, and had a lot of work to do offensively, so says Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching: "Offensively, Favors has a lot of work to do. He lacks the requisite ball-handling skills to be able to take his man off the dribble like this, and when he struggles offensively he can float on defense, then leading to missed rebound opportunities. There’s no excuse for that. He can also look uncomfortable inside, forcing things and moving too quickly for his own good."
  • Ken Berger fills us in on the latest labor talks: "There seems to be agreement on both sides that something needs to be done to improve the competitive balance of the league. How to do it, however, remains hotly contested. The players believe many of the owners’ woes can be solved through broader revenue sharing, for which they included a plan in their proposal. The owners continue to believe that how the owners divvy up hundreds of millions in annual losses doesn’t solve the problem that expenses are too high. According to sources, the owners seem to be hunkered down in their pursuit of shorter contracts with less guaranteed money – and they appear to be focusing on those issues even more than reducing the 57 percent share of basketball-related income (BRI) that the players receive."
  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post on JaVale McGee's showcase performance: "He really had just one spurt, in the second half, when teammate Lamar Odom drove down the lane and dropped off a pass to McGee for an uncontested two-handed dunk. His night got off to a inauspicious start, as he got the ball at the top of the key and attempted to drive on Tyson Chandler. McGee backed down Chandler, but it appeared that Chandler pulled the rug out from under McGee as McGee stumbled backward and threw the ball over his head and off the backboard as he fell to the ground."
  • John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog on LeBron's tweet comment: "I was interested by the reaction to LeBron’s “I’m making mental notes of all the people who took shots at me” tweet. Other than THERE IS NO GOOD REASON FOR LEBRON TO HAVE A TWITTER, my main takeaway from that is this: LeBron’s move to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh, along with LRMR’s involvement in everything, has definitely advanced the “LeBron wants to live Entourage , and doesn’t really care about true greatness” storyline."
  • Don't forget, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tonight. It's always a good watch and with Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone going in, we can surely expect a couple quality speeches.
  • Trey Kerby of Ball Don't Lie interviewed Kevin Durant: KD: Man, it's so fun. I remember yesterday in practice I got a rebound and pushed it up the court. I'm used to having Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha running on the sides — nothing against those guys, of course — but Nenad is not as athletic as Derrick Rose . (laughs) And I had D-Rose on one side and [Andre] Iguodala on the other. So I'm like, "Who do I throw it to?" So I just threw it up. (mimes a lob pass) And it was a bad pass. I'm like, "Awwww, turnover." (hangs head) But Iguodala came out of nowhere, grabbed it with one hand and dunked it. (smiling excitedly)"
Posted on: August 4, 2010 6:14 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2010 6:17 pm
 

Lopez out, McGee in: What's it mean for Team USA?

Posted by Royce Young

About 30 feet. (Or rather, 9.14 meters since the games are in Europe.) That's about how much size has either gotten hurt or has been forced to drop out of the World Championships for Team USA. The latest? Seven-footer Brook Lopez will not participate because he hasn't fully recovered from mono.

After Jerry Colangelo announced the 15-man roster that would go to training camp Aug. 10-16, everyone noticed one thing: There are only two centers on this squad. Well, make that one now.

However, shortly after Lopez officially bowed out, promising youngster JaVale McGee was added to the roster. Now McGee is raw and there's no guarantee he'll be on the final 12-man that heads to Turkey. But chances are looking pretty good for the Wizard big man. That's mainly due to process of elimination or just survival of the fittest, but regardless, it's McGee's time to step up.

Assuming Team USA keeps McGee to go along with Tyson Chandler, how does this affect them? Well, a lot actually. No matter what, it's hard to see McGee being a key cog in the Team USA rotation. He's young, doesn't have any international experience and was really only brought into camp originally to serve as a training buddy for the other big men. We knew players like Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay were going to interchange between positions, but now it's a question of how much. Could Durant see 10 minutes a game at center? Fifteen? Twenty? If that happens, is does Danny Granger make the squad to fill in time at small forward? Lopez's situation has set off a bit of a chain reaction on the roster, and it won't be easy to solve.

So is McGee now a lock though? Hardly. Yes, it makes sense to bring him because having only one center would seem odd, especially when foul trouble is easy to get into going against the likes of Marc Gasol of Spain and Sofoklis Schortsanitis or Greece. But at the same time, if a tweener like Jeff Green impresses in New York, Colangelo and Coach K may prefer to just play small at times and have that versatility and flexibility.

More than likely if McGee makes the final roster, he'll be there as an insurance policy for Chandler. You don't want to waste a roster spot on a guy that's there just to wear warmups. Especially when that means a talented player will have to be left home. Then again, that extra player - if it's anyone other than Green - will likely be stuck behind multiple players anyway. So really, what are you losing by taking McGee over say, Eric Gordon, who might be behind five other guys anyway?



But let's not sell McGee short here. He looked fairly fantastic in Vegas during summer league and had moments during the scrimmage a few weeks ago. There's good reason to think he could serve a purpose and honestly, might even find a little floor time. This USA team is going to run. And McGee is ideal in transition.

Training camp in New York just got a little more interesting and the cuts for Coach K and Colangelo just got tougher. Do you completely buy into the small ball approach and take a better player? Or bring McGee and have two centers? Whatever the case, Team USA was dealt another blow Wednesday and its trip to Turkey just became a whole heck of a lot tougher.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 3:47 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 3:48 pm
 

Team USA: The Final 15

Posted by Royce Young

The first cuts for Team USA have been made and the 15 players that will be moving on to training camp (August 10-16) in New York are:
A few notes of the roster :
  • We all knew it was going to be guard heavy. But now seeing the 15 that moved on, it's really guard heavy. JaVale McGee picked up a little momentum especially because of the injuries and issues within the roster, but eventually didn't move on. Instead the roster is going with versatility and players that will be able to shuffle through positions. 
  • For instance, Jeff Green made the cut and Coach K as to why: "It's one of the reasons he's still one of the 15 is because of his versatility."
  • Right now, there are four point guards. So common sense says one likely won't be making the final roster. How you narrow down between those four, I don't know.
  • Coach K indicated Billups would be a player that would slide over to the 2-guard slot when other point guards come in. 
  • Team USA's center situation: Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler. That's it. Coach K said, "We are concerned about the size."
  • Colangelo said Lopez was given the benefit of the doubt because of his case of mono. He said Lopez was selected for New York based on the idea that he would regain some form and get healthy. He mentioned that they didn't know Lopez came in ill, but admitted that his size probably helped him make this cut.
  • Coach K said players like Durant and Gay will play a lot of power forward.
  • Colangelo said as of right now, they have a sold eight or nine that will make the roster for Turkey. So that means there are three or four slots open to be battled for in New York.
These next fews weeks will the roster will likely get narrowed down to 12, though Colangelo noted that they might consider taking more than that to Turkey and then cutting from there. Only 12 can actually be eligible to play in Turkey, but Colangelo and Coach K indicated they may use all the time needed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com