Brook Lopez is the best center on the Team USA roster by roughly 500 miles. And coach Mike Krzyzewski would walk 500 miles and then would walk 500 more just to be the man who had a real low post presence on his team.
But in the white vs. blue Team USA scrimmage Saturday Lopez was, well, unimpressive. Two points, not one board. The biggest man on the floor was invisible.
The reason? He’s still playing his way back into shape after a bout with mononucleosis.
You remember when you had mono in college, the disease that gave you an excuse to sleep all day and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns, when that’s all you wanted to do anyway? It just wipes out your energy.
Team USA officials get that and are expected to invite Lopez to be part of the 15 coming to New York next month. However, if he continues to be this lackluster he may not be part of the final 12 heading to Turkey.
The real question Team USA officials face is do they make JaVale McGee — the third center who has looked pretty good — in camp an invite to the final 15 just as a precaution? A healthy Lopez is a far superior choice to McGee, but will Lopez be ready next month? The answer on McGee will come later today with cut downs.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.