Olympics Day 1 roundup: Argentina picks up key victory

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We’ve broken down the USA win over France a few ways now, but there were five other games in the Olympics on Sunday. And we know you didn’t watch all of them because you were entranced by beach volleyball. We get that.

To help you out, here is a recap of the rest of the day in Olympic basketball.

Argentina 102, Lithuania 79: It is the first day of Olympic competition but this one was big — it likely determines second and third place in Group A (behind the USA). Argentina pulled away in the second quarter and got monster games from its stars: Luis Scola had 32 points on 19 shots, Manu Ginobili put on a clinic with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Carlos Delfino added 20 points.

With this win it is likely the last day of Group A play will feature an undefeated USA and Argentina playing for the top spot in the group. And like the exhibition meeting (86-80 USA) it will not be a blowout.

Spain 97, China 81: Spain had to work for this one. If you’re a cynic and want to combine that with the fact the team projected as the second best in this tournament was not blowing people’s doors off in the exhibition tune-ups for the Olympics you can raise some eyebrows. But for now, I’d say keep your eyebrows down. Spain always seems to be a side that starts slow and builds in international competitions.

This was a seven-point game early in the fourth quarter before Spain pulled away at the end to have a comfortable margin of victory. As you might expect, Spain’s size — especially when Serge Ibaka was on the floor defending the rim – was hard for China to handle. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 boards to pace Spain, Ibaka had 17 off the bench. Juan Carlos Navarro added 14.

Biggest surprise of this game was phenomenal play from Yi Jianlian, who dropped 30 for China with 12 boards. He’s never figured out how to fit his game in the NBA but he looked comfortable out there and put up big numbers. Good time to do that if you’re a guy looking for an NBA payday (and some European clubs had to notice, too).

Nigeria 60, Tunisia 56: Nigeria owned the game early — Tunisia scored just 15 first half points and Nigeria was up 19 at one point. But Tunisia made a game of it late scoring 25 points in the fourth quarter and it took some steady play from Nigerian point guard Ade Dagunduro for them to hold on.

Brazil 75, Australia 71: This game was not expected to be this close but the Aussies put up a fight behind 20 points from Patty Mills (most recently of the Spurs) and some great outside shooting down the stretch that made a game of it. Brazil kept its head down the stretch and won because of veteran point guard Marcelinho Huertas, who had 10 assists. Brazil was led by 16 points from Leandro Barbosa.

Russia 95, Great Britain 75: Timberwolves fans, watch the replay of this game and you are going to be very happy. Just signed Andrei Kirilenko dropped 35 points on 14-of-17 shooting to lead Russia. Then your new backup Russian point guard Alexey Shved added 16 points and 13 assists. Russia is a sleeper medal team in this tournament, keep an eye on them. Luol Deng led GB with 26 points but needed 27 shots to do it.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan staying in 2017 NBA draft

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Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA draft, struggled at the combine, withdrew, got into great shape, had an All-American sophomore season, declared for the 2017 draft.

This time, he’s not turning back.

Swanigan:

Swanigan is a borderline first-round pick. He has a couple NBA-ready skills the good teams that typically pick late in the first round might covet, but thanks to trades, teams that didn’t win a playoff game this year hold most late first-round picks. They might pick someone with more upside than Swanigan.

Swanigan is a tenacious rebounder, particularly defensively. He has excellent fundamentals, size (6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan) and ability to read the ball, and he crashes through contact to hunt boards.

He’s also a quality post-up player who can finish with either hand and has the passing ability to make that play work.

But Swanigan is slow. NBA teams have become increasingly adept at running plodders like him off the court by dragging them into pick-and-rolls. Even when on the court, he hasn’t protected the rim at satisfactory levels.

Swanigan has overcome his athletic limitations as a rebounder. He hasn’t done so in other facets of defense.

He’s hardly a dinosaur offensively. He made 45% of his 3-pointers last season, and though I’m not confident that will translate to NBA 3-point range (give the small sample and his form), he should be at least a midrange threat.

Swanigan is also just 20, young for a sophomore. He can improve.

But it’s just hard to look past his defensive limitations.

Hawks hire Travis Schlenk as general manager

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The Hawks picked Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk as their next general manager. All that was left was negotiating terms.

That’s done.

Hawks:

The Atlanta Hawks today announced the hiring of Travis Schlenk as General Manager and Head of Basketball Operations. He will start leading Hawks basketball operations on June 1.

Schlenk worked his way up the latter and helped the Warriors become the envy of every other NBA team. He deserves this opportunity.

But the job won’t be easy.

The Hawks are stuck between two directions. On one side, they have veterans Paul Millsap (a 32-year-old pending unrestricted free agent whom the owner has basically promised a huge contract) and Dwight Howard (who sounds unhappy). On the other side, they have a youth movement featuring Dennis Schroder and Taurean Prince. Tim Hardaway Jr., who bridges the age groups, is about to enter a potentially tricky restricted free agency.

Keeping the core together offers the upside of a playoff-series victory or two annually, modest outcomes for the cost. But a fragile Atlanta fan base might not tolerate a rebuild.

Schlenk works for owner Tony Ressler, and Ressler sounds committed to maintaining the status quo by keeping Millsap. It’s now Schlenk’s job to execute that vision or convince his boss to approve a different direction.

Potential none-and-done first-rounder Hamidou Diallo returning to Kentucky

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The more I’ve looked into the 2017 NBA draft, the less impressed I’ve become. There are a few bright spots in the first round relative to an average draft – No. 2, 5ish-10ish, 17ish-22ish – but I’m not convinced this is the generationally strong draft it has been touted as.

In the absence of prospects who offer secure promise, why not turn to upside? Hamidou Diallo offered plenty and was increasingly viewed as a first-rounder.

Yet, he’ll return to Kentucky for his freshman season.

Diallo:

A highly ranked recruit, Diallo began last school year at a prep school then enrolled at Kentucky for the spring semester. He practiced with the Wildcats, but never played.

Then, he went to the combine and posted excellent measurables: 6-foot-5, 6-foot-11 wingspan, 44.5-inch vertical and strong agility and sprint scores. Just 18, Diallo might have been the second-youngest player drafted this year (behind only Ike Anigbogu).

It wouldn’t have taken long – likely somewhere in the middle of the first round – for a team to bite on all that potential.

Instead, Diallo returns to Kentucky and must now show his ability to actually produce in basketball games. If he does, there’s no limit on how high he goes in the 2018 NBA draft. If he doesn’t, he’ll regret missing the opportunity to get drafted before his game got picked apart.

Report: Bulls expect Dwyane Wade to opt in

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Dwyane Wade said he wants to see the Bulls’ plan for Jimmy Butler and the rest of the roster before deciding on a $23.8 million player option for next season.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

I can tell you is most everyone associated with the Bulls believes Wade will pick up the option and remain in Chicago for a second season. More surprising things have happened in league history, though. So stay tuned.

This could be a tell that Wade will opt in. The Bulls could obviously be positioned to base their prediction on inside information into Wade’s thinking.

This could a tell the Bulls won’t trade Butler. If they know they’ll keep Butler, they can extrapolate what that’d mean for Wade.

Or the Bulls, like so many of us, just assume a 35-year-old Wade won’t turn down so much guaranteed money at this stage of his career.