Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Self-Actualization of Team USA Basketball.

Melo, James, Bosh in their ABCD Camp jerseys.
I miss the absence of HSers in the draft because I always l
iked that ABCD Camp high collar on these kids profile pics.

The U.S. Team's 15 finalists for the FIBA World Basketball Championships (in Japan - the mascots a Hello Kitty character!) were announced today. These 15 will go to Japan for a couple of exhibition games, then be trimmed to 12 for actual tourney, which begins August 19th.

The final 15. With some lovenotes from me in italics
Carmelo Anthony
Gilbert Arenas -
two names in and two of my favorites already!
Shane Battier
Chris Bosh
- At this point, kind of a "if not Amare, then Bosh, kind of thing?
Bruce Bowen
Elton Brand
Kirk Hinrich
Dwight Howard
- Someone at Freedarko dubbed Howard the "Oak of Christianity" once. Oddly, this only increased my liking for this kid.
LeBron James
Antawn Jamison
Joe Johnson
Brad Miller
Chris Paul
- I think Paul could, no, should make this TeamUSA special, usher in a new era, so forth.
Amaré Stoudemire - The rest of the [NBA] world will be watching… his knee.
Dwyane Wade - Either he's gonna come through like he did for the Heat or he's gonna screw everything up by trying to come through like he did for the Heat.
There are several items of interest (to me) here.

1. It pleases me that Amare, James, Wade & Melo were on the Larry Brown 2004 Disaster Squad in Athens, and are now on this squad, and all have said requisite quotes about setting the world to right. Stoudemire, it should be noted, is not necessarily 100% guaranteed to be a lock for the final team, coming off the microfracture surgery and all. I also recall a story in 2004 about these four players making a "Young Guns" gentlemen's agreement about which one would win an O'Brien first (why we haven't heard about the other three ponying up to Wade yet? I don't know).

2. Some early reports say that Melo, Chris Paul and Joe Johnson have been the most impressive in the workouts / practices so far. A backcourt of Paul and JJ and Melo at the swing positions is certainly sounds potentially devastating, a sweet concoction of inside-outside game and athleticism.

3. I am not a Coach K fan, but the selection of his assistants: Boeheim, MacMillan, D'Antoni, (with none other than the great Rudy T. doing scouting abroad of the other international teams, and to his credit, he's admitted that several of the Euro squads are worrisome) gives me hope. Note that when this coaching staff was selected it was last summer, after the Suns and Sonics had come off miracle years involving high scoring, outside shooting, lots of passing offenses. Observers at the practices say Boeheim is the zone guy, D'Antoni the international guy, and MacMillan is Nate. Also Coach K's saying that he wants to utilize Team USA's "athleticism." This is interesting because to me its seems like a "Larry Brown used to be great, but that 'Right Way' crap he tried to use in Athens is totally counterproductive and pointless in international competition" thing to say. Also…

4. What exactly is the "American style" of basketball? Note that this may be another way of asking "what is the NBA-style of basketball" to a certain degree (at the risk of asking whether, say, Dirk plays "NBA-style" ball or is just a fantastic "non-American" player who somehow fits in despite a lack of "true" NBA talents). Certainly, "American" style would seem to involve athleticism, although clearly the days of the sound and the fury (running and overpowering the opposition out the gym, Vince jumping over Frenchmen, etc.) appears to have past. I'll admit that, right now, I really don't have an answer to this line of thought, but the my intrigue in the Paul-J.Johnson-Melo triad would lead me to suggest the following: that the truly strongest attribute of a Team USA player would be their versatility. Which is funny, because basically it means that Kevin Garnett IS American-style / NBA-style basketball, and that seems ridiculously self-evident once you actually think about it.

5. There are some doubters out there, who have written that all the praise and optimism this summer is no different than the praise and optimism the preceded the Athen's debacle (that team was supposed to set the world to right after the George Karl-led iceberg at the last World Champtionships in Indianapolis).* I can see the parallels of the 2004 and 2006 teams (namely a lack of a dominant center offset by a ton of swingmen), but all I would have to say is A combination of Chris Paul or Arenas at the point and Wade or LeBron at the offguard is a much more solid backcourt than the downright painful (on paper and on court) duo of Iverson and Marbury (shudder!!!).

I also think (the white) Brad Miller will work out better than anyone suspects. My recollection is that his best years were when J. O'Neal then Webber could spread the floor for him to make his little passes and basically do that neat-o Joel Pryzbilla type of stuff ("I set a great screen!"). I think Brand and Jamison should make things gravy for Miller, as well as Amare if he's truly ready to play.

6. Hinrich's alright, but he's recovering from ankle surgery, I think. Prob won't make final 12.

7. Bowen better get cut. This would please me immensely. I'd rather be eliminated in the first round that have to watch this dude play.

*I actually saw the 2002 World Championship team play an exhibition game before the tourney here in Portland against Dirk & the rest of the German team. And trust me, that was not a pretty game. Really, the writing was on the wall. We were slipping. Another sidenote is that Serbia-Mntenegro won that tourney and then completely unraveled at the Olympics two years later. Now I've read today that Nenad Krstic won't play for the Serbian national team. As far as international basketball pedigree goes, the Serbs would seem to the other embarrassed fans along with the U.S. right now.

1 Comments + Unabashed Criticism:

Blogger d.d. tinzeroes said...

I apologize in advance for any wierd or incorrect grammar. Difficult concepts require difficult prose, sometimes. This is also the way I think.

3:12 PM  

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