A couple days into the Team USA practices in New York — and with tip-off of the World Basketball Classic tomorrow at Radio City Music Hall — here are two things becoming clear about this team:
They are going to use a lot of pressure defenses, and they are going to bomb threes.
The defensive pressure thing is nothing new — the USA has used that consistently under Mike Krzyzewski. It also makes a ton of sense. The USA has the best athletes in international ball so use that to put pressure on opposing ball handlers, force turnovers then convert those into transition points.
This younger team should be able to run like the wind — even bigs like JaVale McGee, Lamar Odom and Jeff Green can run the floor well. But running is always based on defense — you can’t run well taking the ball out of the basket. Creating turnovers is part of that, Kevin Love crashing the boards then whipping outlet passes down court is another part.
Then there is the shooting — with a less skilled team inside look for this USA team to love the three. And nearly every player outside Tyson Chandler and McGee can hit the three. Love will drop threes, as will Odom and just about every wing and guard. Kevin Durant has seemingly unlimited range.
But teams that live by the three can die by the three. According to NBA.com, Wednesday Team USA was scrimmaging against a college All-Star team, gave up an 8-0 run because Team USA went cold from three for a stretch. Better teams at the FIBA World Championships could do worse damage to Team USA in a cold streak like that.
One other note, Rajon Rondo missed practice due to a death in the family, but he is expected to return to the team Thursday. Danny Granger missed practice as well after dislocating his ring finger yesterday, and he may return in the coming days but no timetable has been set.
Report: Danny Ferry not expected to supplant Dell Demps as Pelicans GM
Don’t look for Danny Ferry, currently an advisor to the front office, to take over in any shakeup, sources say.
I’m skeptical. Nobody wants to acknowledge an internal coup before it’s executed. Doing so would create a terrible workplace environment until it happens or if it doesn’t.
The Pelicans’ ownership situation makes this a little more tricky. There’s an apparent desire in New Orleans to win quickly for an aging Benson, and that directive has limited Demps’ flexibility.
Still, Demps’ plans have mostly busted. Eventually, he’ll run out of chances to try new ones.
If that happens soon, when the Pelicans search for a replacement, Ferry will be right there with an impressive record building up Atlanta and no stains that make him unhirable to New Orleans. Would the Pelicans, who thought enough of him to hire him once already, really not consider promoting him?
Report: Potential top-10 pick, Indiana’s OG Anunoby, undergoes season-ending knee surgery
Indiana Hoosiers sophomore forward OG Anunoby will undergo right knee surgery and miss the rest of the NCAA season, sources told The Vertical.
The 6-foot-8 small forward is a versatile defender. He has grown as a shooter, and there’s hope he could become a 3-and-D player – or, given his athleticism, maybe more.
Anunoby wasn’t in the top tier of prospects in a loaded 2017 NBA draft, but he was headed toward the lottery, maybe even the top 10. How he recovers from this injury will factor significantly into his draft stock now.
On the bright side, this is less opportunity for scouts to pick apart his raw offense (though it’s also less opportunity for Anunoby to develop).
NBA: Mavericks got away with key late foul in win over Bulls
Curry (DAL) clamps the arm of Lopez (CHI) and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound.
A correct call would’ve put Dallas in the penalty and sent Lopez – who has made 66% of his free throws this season and and 76% for his career – to the line for two attempts.
Instead, not only was Lopez denied his free throws, he committed a frustration foul on Dirk Nowitzki – who grabbed the rebound with help of Curry – moments later. Nowitzki converted one of two free throws.
We’ll never know how the rest of the game would’ve played out after a correct call, but a swing of 1-to-3 points is pretty big in a one-point game.