Eight more days until the fun starts in Turkey. Why it can't be today, I can't tell you. Basketball withdrawal is real strong right now!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Maybe this would be the look on his face had he witnessed the Greece-Serbia fight. Did you think you could mess with Nenad Kristic? Well take note!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
You ready for the Worlds yet?? This reaffirms that I am!
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 9:30 PM
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Team USA has left the states and is continuing their preparations for the World Championships. As the roster is being to slimmed down to 12, JaVale McGee, who appeared to be a center who could stick, was cut. Many questioned this choice, myself included. How can we fight in the paint with little to no big bodies?
This FIBA tournament is unique in answering that question. Many top seven footers of the world aren't playing. Pau Gasol and Yao Ming, two of the most skilled big men in the game, are out for this. Another factor that is often an after thought: versatile threes in the NBA can play the four internationally. That means that KD will see time at the four spot, which adds another dimension to the team's depth.
The scary thought is dealing with a bulky center. A team that could pose a problem for the US is Puerto Rico. In watching them play China last weekend, an asset to their squad was two seven footers. Peter John Ramos and Daniel Santiago are decent players that bring size and overall skill to the post. When NBA TV called the game, at one point they thought the two seven footers were brought on the floor together. While that wasn't the case, the thought of Puerto Rico using them together against the US (assuming they get out of group play), could certainly expose the weakness of our roster.
A counter attack that the US can use against this threat would be to downsize, since matching up with another team often admits defeat. If Coach K is faced with tough centers, he could use the weakness of size to his advantage. By playing a small lineup against a bigger one, the edge in quickness and outside shooting ability could potentially outweigh the beating the US could take on defense.
I'm not suggesting we go Don Nelson on the world. Downsizing is just an option that could make that strategy disappear quickly. Defense is going to be a strong point for this team, but that will shine more on the perimeter than the inside.
Lastly, let's not forget how strong the guard play on this team will be. We have seen maybe a quarter of the fluidity on offense that I expect to see in the tournament. Turnovers have been plentiful but that won't happen once this team buckles down. Consequently, the guards look much better. It will allow the team to execute the offense much more, leading to stronger defense, too.
Team USA is moving in a winning direction. They have shown basically nothing so far in the friendlies they've played in, but the potential is strong. With a smart strategy to cope with a slight lack in size, they will eliminate that pitfall from digging itself. Team USA is my pick to win. Only a talented, defensive-minded and seasoned team has a chance to threaten their chances.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
At 1 PM Eastern, ESPN 2 has the USA playing France at MSG. Then, NBA TV has China vs. Puerto Rico at 3:30 Eastern. This will be the first chance the national audience gets to see team USA play against a different team (yesterdays scrimmage against China wasn't televised). I expect a team that will increase their defensive intensity and surely lower the number of turnovers we saw in the two exhibitions they played earlier. I have the US taking todays game.
China against Puerto Rico will be a great opportunity to measure the competition. I don't know a ton about each team, though they both have some NBA players. This will be a chance to learn what's up with these countries.
Another thing you must check out is Project Spurs. My friend Jeff Garcia has been in New York, covering the hell out the World Basketball Festival. I suggest you check it out, great insight and interviews.
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 10:27 AM
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Team USA's game in New York, called the World Basketball Festival, is on NBA TV tonight at 6:30 Eastern. If you are feeling as NBA deprived as I am, I suggest you catch this one.
Won't have much pure basketball probably, but there should be some nice highlights. Bring on the real basketball!
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 9:15 AM
Kickin' it old school. You got a problem?
Monday, August 09, 2010
Yes, the Detroit Pistons have shown interest in Tracy McGrady. Initially it was falsely reported on Twitter as a signing; Joe Dumars has cleared that up and said they have only had discussions.
Does it make sense for either party to come together? Not much at all. So why is it being discussed? Because McGrady needs someplace to play and the Pistons need to create excitement about their rebuilding team. Dumars could be seen as desperate and McGrady can be a cheap fill-in if and when Dumars moves Rip Hamilton and others. Though a young team looking to build the youth, it shouldn't need to take on a venturing veteran.
I would like to see McGrady go to Detroit. Then, I want Dumars to move Hamilton and Prince. It is time to admit that this team must start over. Down years will be plentiful for a little while. The Pistons have attempted to hold onto some of the pieces that got them places in the past, but now is the time to move along.
Detroit has some nice young guys, but more minutes need to be available for them. Taking on a true rebuilding-like roster will allow that goal to be achieved.
Please go to Detroit, Tracy. And Joe, I hope you see that the future is brighter if you rebuild right now.
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 10:00 AM
Yesterday, Jeff Van Gundy was in the news for praising the Heat, a team that has never even practiced together, let alone played a game, saying they will break the Bulls single-season winning mark and that the Lakers are the only team with a remote chance at beating them. So basically, JVG predicts they'll be as good as Yao playing on two-foot stilts. Again consider, this team has yet to play one game. These guys have never all put on the same uniform.
The Lakers should be the team to beat. Why? They won it all. Dwayne Wade knows that the road to the title goes through the Lakers. He said so this summer: "The Lakers are the champions and we know the Lakers are very good. That's the team that everyone's shooting for and they should be. Not the Miami Heat. The Los Angeles Lakers."
I am not getting too worked up over Van Gundy's inane comments, but, come on! If everything were to go perfectly for Miami this year, those records are a remote possibility, but why not wait to make a true evaluation? Chemistry could be an issue early on, not to mention this team could be too passive at times, much like an All-Star team.
Another thing about the comments JVG made, who cares if they break a record for winning in the season? I don't understand the ordeal made about that record. Would it be great to break? For sure! But is it going to put a ring on that team's fingers? Don't think so.
If LeBron's, Wade's and Bosh's minds are in the right place, they will know that that doesn't matter. It's about which team is the last one standing. Kobe knows that's what counts. Van Gundy is a bold character and I am not surprised by what he said. But wow, were his comments out there! I know that the Lakers' opportunity is stronger than 'remote.' Look at each squad. We will see who is worthy of the next ring.
Friday, August 06, 2010
The Sixers have made some welcome moves this off-season. Drafting Evan Turner with the second pick, bringing in Doug Collins as coach and acquiring scrappy guys like Andres Nocioni puts them back on track for making the playoffs.
But, how will the Sixers define themselves? Doug Collins has built a reputation as a defensive coach. He wants the Sixers attack to start on the defensive end, "This has to be a team that wins with their defense and when they played and were the 41-win team they got in the open court and got easy scores so their shooting wasn’t so much a liability," he said in a May press conference.
Alvin Gentry's version of the Suns then, Doug? I just don't see this team making outstanding defensive progress. They are better equipped to do so--not to mention the mindset instilled by the new coach--but they are mostly built around strong offensive prowess. Iguodala is a great athlete and could translate that into better D, but that's largely unseen. "Andre Iguodala should be an all-league defensive player at the small forward position," Collins said. It will take a lot of effort to take Iguodala there, but first the Sixers' team defense must improve. Iguodala has an impressive basketball IQ and his defense ought to be better than most, but still, having that defensive wall as a team will make Iguodala look a lot better.
Two young guns on their team, Jrue Holiday and Marreese Speights, are similar. Holiday has shown that he can make smart gambles to steal the ball and cause deflections, but defending one-on-one in the halfcourt against elite PGs is something he'll have to prove he's great at. Speights doesn't seem to really care about defense at times, but I'll withhold judgment--at least somewhat--because he hasn't played enough to be given a proper evaluation. What Speights has shown to this point, however, has not been enough.
Collins' vision for the offense is tremendous. This Sixers' team is built to be an up and down team, with the offense hitting quick and early. Improved defense will be what can help get them closer to a playoff run; Iguodala and crew filling it up will truly be the power of this team.
How far can they go? Right now, a seventh or eighth spot in the East would be ideal.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
The New York Knicks were in the market for a shooter and are picking up Roger Mason Jr. Mason is coming off of a down year with the Spurs where he fell out of the rotation and performed poorly.
Talk about a perfect fit for the Knicks. A guy who shots the ball from the outside and doesn't do a hell of a lot else. At the $1.4 million price tag, I love it. Mason should get more opportunities to play, as long as his shot is there. D'Antoni will know how to set him up just right and Raymond Felton can feed him the rock.
Knicks fans: you're not getting Rudy Fernandez anymore, but hey, Mason Jr. is not a bad piece. Shooting was needed from the guard positions and that's what he'll provide.
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 5:39 PM
I am missing the NBA right now! The remedy? Old highlight tapes and games! It's keeping me sane.
Anyway, check out these Scottie Pippen throw downs:
Posted by Alex Curtis-Slep at 5:25 PM
Monday, August 02, 2010
The Chicago Bulls have made tremendous additions this off-season. A scoring big man in Carlos Boozer brings experience and a true offensive complement to Joakim Noah, various roles players have been brought in, and stealing part of the Utah Jazz can't be bad, can it? You add that to Derrick Rose and you've got a dynamic team that can rise and rise for years to come. Does that sound like another squad? The Oklahoma City Thunder are also built around young stars and role players.
Chicago is obviously quite different, Rose being their Durant. Totally different kind of star and leader. Rose can be just as great as KD in his own way. Boozer's post offense is largely non-existent for Oklahoma City, but that will certainly change eventually. Noah reminds me of Serge Ibaka without the offensive aptitude Ibaka has shown early on. Noah and Ibaka battle and battle, even after the war appears to be over.
What does this mean for the avid NBA fan and the Bulls? Fans will soon see that the Bulls are the perfect second favorite team. When you watch the Thunder, it's incredibly difficult not to get behind them. Whether it's Durant filling it up and still caring about other elements of the game, or a smooth left hander in James Harden, the Thunder are full of young Energizer Bunnies. Even fans that favor one team can appreciate seeing the all-out exertion that is commonplace from the Thunder.
Chicago is built to deliver the same greatness. Rose will showcase his shoe-defying speed with and without the ball, Noah will block shots and get in your face about it and role players will be solid overall. Tom Thibodeau will instill a powerful defensive focus, just as Scott Brooks does for the Thunder.
So, if you're looking for a second team to root for, or just a young team that will be increasingly competitive, look no further than the Thunder in the West and now the Bulls in the East. Chicago will earn new fans for showing true heart, hunger and amazement on the basketball court.
Photo from: Life.com