Team USA’s system isn’t changing: They plan to use quickness, athleticism to pressure teams

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Mike Krzyzewski has a model that has worked well for Team USA — if you have the deepest pool of top athletes in the world use that. Pressure teams on defense, get out and run in transition.

It’s worked to the tune of gold medals at the last two Olympics and one at the World Championship four years ago.

And even with all the guys who have dropped out of the Team USA pool for this summers World Cup (the new name for the World Championships), the style for Team USA is not changing how it plays, Krzyzewski told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“Our roster is built on quickness, athleticism and shooting. We’ve won these last three competitions because we’ve been smart defensively, knowing team fouls, we’ve shot more free throws, we’ve passed the ball well, had more assists and we’ve really shot the ball well. It’s different shots than they get in the NBA. A lot of them are stationary threes. What we hope we can hold our own in is our rebounding and post defense because we don’t have a lot of depth there on the inside.”

Krzyzewski’s phrasing suggested a few guys are pretty much locks for the 12-man roster: Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Klay Thompson. All of that list makes sense to me except maybe Lillard — he could make the team but at point guard there is also Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Derrick Rose. Does Lillard defend well enough to make that cut? If you carry three then Curry, Irving and one more seem to be the logical calls to me. And if Rose really is back at 100 percent it’s going to be hard to leave him off.

The bottom line is the Americans certainly have the athleticism to overwhelm almost any team… but Spain will provide a different challenge with the Gasol brothers up front.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.