Nobody disputes they are the best in the world at what they do, as they can prove in any individual contest. But sometimes all those individual geniuses have trouble with the teamwork. That's how more than a few NBA teams have fallen apart, but it's also a tale of Team USA in its bad years and, interestingly, the U.S. sprint relay teams. As described in a fascinating New York Times report, U.S. sprinters simply don't train together very much, for understandable reasons -- many are serious individual medal contenders, competing with each other.
Hoopism showcases the stellar work of Milton Un and Arthur Tanimoto, with a must-see pretty graphic interface of the season in review.
Remember back when Mike D'Antoni was the beleaguered coach of the New York Knicks, locked in some kind of power struggle with Carmelo Anthony or James Dolan or forces unseen? As it played out in real time, there were a lot of smart people saying it was no big deal. But then it turned out to be a huge deal, because D'Antoni quit or was fired or both. And I can't help but think that whatever happened between D'Antoni and the Knicks was similar to what happened to Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. To many eyes, these Knicks were never better than when Lin ran D'Antoni's offense and the ball pinged around. To some other, more influential eyes (James Dolan, Carmelo Anthony etc.) that period was a deviation from the real plan.
We are so used to the idea how basketball is played in the NBA is a disadvantage in the international game. But maybe there's one advantage: Our players are used to a longer 3-point line. Maybe that's like training at altitude, or swinging a heavy bat. It has been seen as a disadvantage. But maybe U.S. players are more confident than most shooting those shorter, international 3s. The same is true on defense, where NBA players are used to closing out shooters who are further away. That job just got a little easier, too.
The Nets don't have a backup center, and Nets are Scorching's Devin Kharpertian is OK with that: "The Nets don’t 'need' a seven-footer any more than Monta Ellis 'needs' shots: they look good, you can sell it to the fans, and it only makes sense if you don’t pay attention to how it affects the team. The idea that the Nets need someone tall just because he’s tall is a fool’s game. In a league of 450ish players, just 11 listed at seven feet or taller qualified for last season’s minutes leaderboard. The list is littered with duds and good-not-greats -- it includes Byron Mullens, Robin Lopez, and yes, Johan Petro. The Nets may very well sign someone to fit their 'tall' budget to fill out the back of their roster, and at the veteran’s minimum, it’s not an enormous commitment. But I worry that a backwards vision of traditional models may lead the Nets to play a worse player more. Size matters in basketball -- as it always has -- but size doesn’t make you good. Being good at basketball makes you good. With no one left that’s good at basketball, why force your own hand to appease poorly constructed tradition?"
There is no quit in Russell Westbrook.
One more thought about Team USA, who survived a close call: Chuck Daly essentially rigged an early loss, in practice against college players, for the Dream Team. That got the players really focused on the idea they need to do things the right way. A close call to Argentina may help Mike Krzyzewski keep things razor sharp this time around. Or indeed it could be warning sign, because there are stronger opponents to come.
You know how the Thunder have all those young players who'll have to be paid eventually, and there is much worry about salary cap doom? The same basic concerns exist in Denver, too.
The story of Jimmer Fredette's NBA career is in a delicate place. He was abysmal as a rookie, as inefficient as imaginable. So, you can't hit shots against that NBA defense ... is the answer to shoot more? Honestly, it could be -- if he can't figure out how to score, it's hard to imagine how he can stick in the NBA. But that could also be the fastest road to total disaster. He did shoot more in summer league, but even there his percentages were miserable.
Portland's once-in-a-while GM, and now director of college scouting, Chad Buchanan, says Damian Lillard's defense could use some work. But on offense, Buchanan tells BlazersEdge, Lillard has a special ability to go slow when it counts: "He does a very good job of getting to the rim and slowing down, getting ready to brace for a hit, reading the angles. How quickly do I have to get it out of my hands? Is there a drop pass, a lob pass? He goes fast to get to a spot and then slows down to make the decision from there, which is a great trait to have."
Thomas Robinson didn't play much in the paint in summer league.
Brandon Roy suits up for a pro-am team called the Bulls, and on video appears to be fit and moving well enough, but suffering from offseason stuff like an errant mid-range game, a loose handle and, mostly, terrible camera angles.
For some reason I find it amusing that the crucial meeting of the international Jeremy Lin saga, when Lin met with the Rockets and signed his offer sheet, took place at the Golden Nugget casino. This is the main attraction at that casino right now.