Last night I was watching the early part of Team USA’s opening game against Croatia and I was stunned how easily Croatia was controlling inside play. Then I realized that absent Kevin Love (and a diminished Tyson Chandler, and I guess Lamar Odom) Team USA has no size to speak of. In fact, looking at the playing minutes, the team seems to be actively ignoring the role big men have played in writing the history of the game of basketball. Its a subtle point to internalize, I guess. It must take — what?– all of three seconds of study to uncover.
Man, who designed this team anyway? Don Nelson?? He’s been playing without a center in Golden State for several seasons now, and he’s driven that franchise right into the gutter. Yet the Committee that chose Team USA must think he’s the Frank Lloyd Wright of championship basketball design.
Wow. You cannot argue to me that any representative team of half quality would feature Stephen Curry or Eric Gordon or Rudy Gay on its roster. Those cannot seriously be the best players the Committee could find. What, Randy Foye wasn’t available? (Actually they forced most of the best players off the team for lack of shooting ability).
And what tournament were they watching in 2008? Where did they get the idea that a team of jump shooters would present our best opportunity to succeed? Didn’t they notice that the Redeem Team dominated through superior length and athleticism, not through shooting? Didn’t they see that Kobe Bryant and Michael Redd, the two players who stood outside and played international style, were the least effective players? Couldn’t they tell that the United States last decisive advantage rests with guys of the Charles Barkley type (who every member on the Dream Team — and the stats — say was the best player on Team USA 1992).
The World can shoot with the USA. They love that. They can’t dunk with them. They can’t rebound with them. They can’t handle the length and basket attacking style that only we can bring.
Well, not this unit. Kevin Love has had to come off the bench to save the United States bacon in two games. In Game Two he and Lamar Odom provided the United States with 40% of their rebounds using only 16% of the team’s playing time?
What are you doing Kryzyzweski? Thank God for Kevin Durant.
But the United States numbers so far don’t project well. They are dominant, but not Mega-dominant like most of the successful United States teams of the past. Their overall numbers project to an .829% winning percentage, which would be outstanding for an NBA team, but I’m not entirely convinced either Slovania or Croatia are NBA quality. Consider that the Redeem Team projected out to a 1.450% winning percentage and they were nearly upset.
I’m not saying this US team will be upset. But the only reason I’m not is because I question the overall competition level of a tournament where former Badger Kirk Penney is the leading scorer and Yi Jianlian is number two.
If it weren’t for that caveat I’d say that Team USA is headed for a nose dive.