Three players who seem to be getting the most out of Team USA

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Participating in the FIBA World Championships for Team USA is largely about sacrifice. Players surrendering their games for the good of the team, and putting aside egos. But that doesn’t mean players aren’t getting anything out of it. For one, they’re being kept in better shape than they would be lounging all summer and occasionally going for a workout on their own schedule. For another, it affords them opportunities to work beyond their own game in a different setting to expand what they can do. Here’s a look at three players who so far seem to be getting the most, basketball-wise, out of the experience. 

1. Andre Iguodala: Iguodala is one of those players who everyone debates his value. Hyper-athletic, a terrific passer and a solid rebounder, he’s a wing that does it all. But consistently he’s been criticized for not being able to create his own shot, and for being more of a fill-in-all-the-gaps kind of player rather than a focus, despite the latter being his role his Philadelphia. But so far in Team USA play, he’s been arguably the most impressive player for Team USA outside of Durant. He’s actually been the initiator, and his combination of speed and hands on the perimeter have wreaked havoc on opposing guards. Iguodala also seems to be taking a leadership role, being vocal and rallying teammates. This could spell great things for Philadelphia if he can take that kind of jump. 
2. Eric Gordon: Gordon’s shooting has always been there, but it’s been good to see him working as a secondary spot-up option, given the needs of the Clippers. The idea of Blake Griffin and Gordon running the two-man game is pretty enticing. Gordon’s been good off the dribble but this role may suit him better. Combine that with his work on defense, and it’s been a huge win for him so far. This experience also probably helps with knowing what it’s like to play with real leaders. Seeing as how, well, it’s the Clippers. 
3. Kevin Love: Love’s doing pretty much what he always does, throwing great outlet passes, rebounding like mad, working hard inside and operating in the flow of the team. The best thing he’s getting out of Team USA? Getting things he hasn’t gotten in his NBA career. Good teammates, the trust of his coach, minutes, and appreciation. 

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.