In Chicago for the second round of Team USA training camp, coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted he didn’t see Kevin Durant leaving the team coming. Durant officially cited mental and physical exhaustion, whether you believe that or think there was another reason is kind of moot to Coach K. He has to deal with the aftermath.
The USA offense was going to be focused around Durant, so now what?
More guard play, Krzyzewski told NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog.
“We had a whole camp building what we’re doing around him,” Krzyzewski said. “So that’s the very first thing: You had one of the great scorers at the [power forward position]. So how does that change your offense? That changes your offense immensely.
“You have to do more to get your guards shots. I mean, these guards are really good, but they were complementing one another – Kevin with those guards. … Now we have to look at developing our inside and getting the guards more involved.”
The USA’s game starts with an aggressive pressure defense trying to force turnovers then get out in transition — the USA has the best, deepest pool of athletes playing hoop in the world, use that to your advantage.
But in the half court the scoring will be a little harder to come by. The USA has shooters — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving is one of the league’s best shooters off the bounce and Kyle Korver one of the best at the catch-and-shoot — but it’s going to take some execution to get everyone open looks. The ball still needs to work inside out, whether that starts with Derrick Rose driving the lane or hitting Anthony Davis in the post.
Even without Durant the USA is as talented as anyone at the FIBA World Cup. They are still gold medal contenders.
But you don’t replace someone like Kevin Durant.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is a wizard when it comes to shots you don’t think can ever reach the iron. Each time he does something like this, he surprises you even though you should be used to it by now.
But I’m not. The Utah Jazz aren’t. Heck, maybe even Steph isn’t used to it by now.
As Curry was driving down the left side of the floor on Thursday, Shelvin Mack got out of position and wound up trailing the Warriors star. With Curry rounding the pick, Mack reached and earned a foul.
Thinking quickly, Curry then hoisted up a rainbow of a shot that gently kissed the net on the way down.
Curry would go on to make the free throw for the 3-point play.
We’re 21 games into Minnesota Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns‘ sophomore season and it already seems cliche to say that he has guard skills
But, like, he does have guard skills.
There was more evidence of that on Thursday night as the Timberwolves matched up with the Toronto Raptors in Canada.
With the ball near the top of the arc and with the Raptors defense collapsing on the Minnesota guards, Towns saw an opportunity to split the defense and run to the rim with the ball.
Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas slid over to meet Towns at the rim, but there wasn’t much anyone could do.
Pau Gasol spent two seasons at the United Center with the Chicago Bulls, so it made sense that when he returned as a member of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, he would know his way around. In fact, Gasol knows the bowels of Chicago’s home arena so well that he wound up walking toward the wrong locker room as a force of habit.
During the NBA on TNT’s coverage of the game, reporter Allie LaForce showed cameras following Gasol after he said hello to some folks in the tunnel.
Unfortunately, Gasol walked about 15 feet before realizing he was heading to the wrong side.
Maybe it was something of an indicator for the night, as the first few quarters of play between the Spurs and the Bulls were extremely sloppy.
Damian Lillard had the No. 1 hip-hop album on iTunes. Milwaukee Bucks fans still think he needed to get taken down a peg, so on Wednesday during a game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Bucks, fans in Milwaukee had a message for Lillard.
Well, it was more of a cheer:
If you can’t quite make out what Bucks fans are saying, it was pretty simple: “Sound-Cloud rap-per!”
Lillard famously began his rapping career as an NBA player by releasing songs on SoundCloud — a mostly-free online audio hosting site — but he’s now graduated to a big release with professional production and guest spots by industry legends like Lil’ Wayne, Juvenile, and Jamie Foxx. His debut full-length album came out in October and is called “The Letter O”.
The Blazers superstar also started his own label in November.
Still, the Bucks arena experience is pretty great considering the coordinated t-shirts, the Bandwagon Cam, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.