FIBA Americas tips off Friday. We breakdown why you might care.


Team USA had a mini-camp workout for some younger players this summer, but that was basically it for the senior men’s team. USA Basketball largely gets to take the summer off and gear up for the World Championships in Spain next summer.

But much of the rest of the world is going at it in tournaments this summer. Ones that nobody stateside is really noticing.

The biggest may be EuroBasket, the European Championships that start Sept. 7. But first off, starting Friday, is FIBA Americas, which is taking place in Caracas, Venezuela.

Here is what you need to know about FIBA Americas:

• What is FIBA Americas? A tournament featuring 10 teams from North and South America, running August 30 to Sept. 11 in Caracas, Venezuela.

• What teams are going to be there? Not Team USA (we don’t need to be). The 10 teams that are going have been divided in to two groups of five for pool play:

Group A: Canada, Uruguay, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Jamaica
Group B: Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Paraguay

• Why are these teams there? The top four finishers get a spot in the World Championships next summer. For a lot of these programs, that would be huge. (USA Basketball, as the defending gold medalists, already has a spot.) There are 24 teams at the World Championships, only 12 allowed to the Olympics (and the IOC just refused to up it). It would be hard for teams to get a bid to Rio, but this seems doable.

• Do I know any players in this tournament? Yes, you do. Canada has Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Joel Anthony (Heat), Cory Joseph (Spurs), Andrew Nicholson (Magic) and Andy Rautins (Knicks). Argentina has Luis Scola (Rockets). Other names you may know are J.J Barea, Ryan Hollins, Francisco Garcia, and Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon

• Who is sitting out this tournament? A lot of players who would really help their teams. The list of guys who are either injured or just said no includes Manu Ginobili, Al Horford, Greivis Vasquez and Kelly Olynyk. Brazil isn’t going to be quite the same without Tiago Splitter, Nene, and Anderson Varejao.

• Who is going to win this thing? Even with a lot of key missing players, Brazil and Argentina are considered the favorites. They should easily lock up two of the World Championship spots.

The race for the other two spots is more interesting: Canada has a fast-improving team, Puerto Rico has a solid squad and the Dominican Republic could push into that mix as well. But a lot of teams think they are one or two upsets away from getting a slot.

• Where can I watch the games? All the games will be streamed on ESPN3 (its online app, if you have access to it). NBA TV will show two games on Sept. 5, both semifinal games on Sept. 10, and will show the finals on tape delay on Sept. 12.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.

This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.

Kristaps Porzingis envelops Victor Oladipo’s dunk attempt (video)

Nikola Vucevic, Kristaps Porzingis
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Scott Skiles moved Victor Oladipo to the bench, because the Magic coach wanted to give Oladipo a chance to be more aggressive.

It worked.

Oladipo scored a season-high 24 points in the Magic’s 100-91 win over the Knicks.

But Oladipo’s aggressiveness also produced this fantastic Kristaps Porzingis block:

John Wall: Wizards shouldn’t have rested me and Bradley Beal together

Bradley Beal, John Wall
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The Wizards scored just six fourth-quarter points in their loss to the Hornets last night.

John Wall and Bradley Beal rested for the first 4:42 of that final period.

Wall, via Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:

“I feel like we can’t have me and Brad sitting,” said Wall, who finished with 14 points on 6 for 18 shooting, with six assists, five rebounds and four turnovers. “That’s just my opinion. Coach makes the decision he feels is best for us. I just feel like one of us has to be in in that situation because when you’re on the road, this is the time when you can step on them.

“I just feel like one of us has to be in. I don’t know. It’s just my opinion because our second unit was just so stagnant. And I’m not saying they lost the game. [Shoot], we all lost the game. We didn’t make shots. We were 1 for 20, right? I think we were just so stagnant. We really didn’t have anybody penetrating and creating.”

First of all, this is how you disagree with a coach. Wall made clear that he respects Randy Wittman’s authority to set the rotation. Two adults should be allowed to acknowledge their differing opinions without it being labeled a feud.

But is Wall right?

Per nbawowy!, here are Washington’s offensive/defensive/net ratings with:

  • Wall and Beal: 103.0/105.0/-2.0 in 224 minutes
  • Wall without Beal: 110.0/111.2/-1.2 in 134 minutes
  • Beal without Wall: 80.2/116.8/-36.6 in 48 minutes
  • Neither Wall nor Beal: 105.2/101.6/+3.6 in 123 minutes

The Wizards have been much better with neither player on the court this season. They’ve also been a disaster when Beal plays without Wall.

But this is a relatively small sample. Let’s look back to last season.

  • Wall and Beal: 108.5/101.5/+7.0 in 1,715 minutes
  • Wall without Beal: 103.0/102.0/+1.0 in 1,123 minutes
  • Beal without Wall: 103.2/110.9/-7.7 in 384 minutes
  • Neither Wall nor Beal: 97.0/107.0/-10.0 in 768 minutes

Washington was – by far – at its best when Wall and Beal shared the court. They just complement each other so well. The Wizards were also fine with just Wall, bad with just Beal and even worse with neither.

If I were the Wizards, I’d generally chance resting Wall and Beal simultaneously so they can play more together. If I’m using just one, it’s Wall. Beal is not a creator I trust to run the offense, and Wall’s defense is important.

But there’s a limit on how much Wall (and Beal) can play. Wall got 36 minutes against Charlotte, and Beal played 38.

To the point, Wall and Beal played the final 7:18 – and the Wizards didn’t make a single basket in that span. They scored just two points on free throws. So, it’s hard to argue Wall and Beal were the answer.

Wittman blamed the players more than his substitutions.

Wittman, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“We don’t have guys that are making plays right now. Again, good looks but until we quit feeling sorry,” said Wittman, who could’ve gone this road after a 123-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday but didn’t. “When things go bad like that I had to twice in timeouts and tell them to lift their heads up. There’s plenty of time left. We’re up nine during this whole thing.  We start feeling sorry, start pouting putting our heads down and it becomes a snowball. We got to grow up in that aspect of it. If the shot doesn’t go in, it doesn’t go in.

“Makes, misses, that’s the game. You never give in. We haven’t gotten over that. That’s been that way for the last couple of years. Guys don’t play well, put their heads down and we pout, feel sorry for ourselves.”

When Wittman previously called out a player publicly, Marcin Gortat didn’t take it well. I’m not sure this will go any better.


When confronted with Wittman’s words, Bradley Beal only would shake his head before giving this retort: “I’m not going to comment on that.”

It’s uncharacteristic of the fourth-year shooting guard, who’ll usually give some sort of answer and shrug it off. By saying nothing, he’s staying plenty.

The Wizards, who entered the season a contender for the Eastern Conference finals, are 6-6. They’ve lost two straight, by 17 and 14 – and the end of their last defeat was historically dreadful.

Is this a team in turmoil?

Michael provides plenty of context to that question.