Tuesday, August 24, 2010

USA v. Spain Exhibition, Aug 22

First of all, this was a relatively sloppy game. Sloppy on both sides. Sloppy with TO's, rebounding, defensive sets. With the amount of talent on the USA side and the amount of chemistry that Spain possesses, this could have been much cleaner.

On the other hand, this was a great game. We saw a glimpse of a potential gold medal matchup, we saw what different players could do around each other, and yet, there was enough withheld that when the play is for real, there will be many new things we have not seen.

First, I want to talk starting lineup. I think this is our lineup. I know that some are pining for Rondo, but I think this is our lineup because it combines aggressiveness with wisdom, enough energy to start a game strong, but enough discipline to not get too hot-headed. From the way we see coach K run his teams, he likes players to play through tough moments, and this starting five can do it. Against Spain, Derrick Rose proved he is unstoppable. Sloppy, but unstoppable. And I'm not talking just about the last 2 possessions. He was doing that the whole game. Needs to cut down his turnovers, but I'm glad that Krzyzewski has realized that he is a 2 in this lineup and needs to create for himself.

Which is why I'm glad Chauncey is here. Defensively, he guards the 2, but on offense, he is the point. Good shooting, good passing. What we need. Iggy is the shutdown defender. We put him on their best wing, and let Durant roam. Which saves Durant's legs, letting him kill offensively. And I like Odom, if only for the fact that Chandler is atrocious. I mean, Chandler can't even start for his own NBA team (Brendan Haywood is the projected 5 in Dallas next year). What Odom gives up on defense (Marc Gasol can eat him alive when he wants), he gives you in increased floor spacing on offense. And while no one wants to see him shoot that corner 3 ever again, he is at least a viable mid-range player.

So I like the starting five. And I like Westbrook/Curry being the first guys off the bench. I think we'll miss Rondo (would rather have him than Granger), but Westbrook can play some mean defense and can shoot mid-range. And Curry comes off the bench as instant offense. This guy was on the bubble, and I think he has proven his merits. I mean, he didn't have a great game statistically, but the shots that he made were huge. And when Spain plays for real and puts the zone in, I think he'll be better than Granger/Gordon.

One thing I'm concerned about is Kevin Love's inability to get in the game. He's a great high post, which fits the international game (he doesn't need to be in the key), is a board machine, and is an above-average passer. I just don't know what the coaches see in Chandler. And I know that Rudy Gay has a good all-around game, but I think that Granger is better (we'll see when he fully comes back from injury). Though most of us thought that the coaches were tinkering with the lineup and the actual minutes for the World's will be different than what we saw against Spain, a lot of us thought Rondo would still be around. In 5 days, he went from starter to third string to gone.

Other than that, I think we have a competitive team. It was only an exhibition, but we showed that we can beat Spain, in Spain. We showed we have a guy that you can't stop. And we showed that Kevin Durant can take over any game, quarter, possession, he likes (on offense or on defense). I think we'll be okay: you make the call.

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