Derrick Rose, using Team USA to test his knees, got off to a great start start this summer. He played well in the Americans’ intra-squad scrimmage, and he excelled in the first exhibition.
But soon enough, injury concerns reemerged.
He sat out one practice and then another. He missed an exhibition game. A report cited knee pain.
Rose returned for Team USA’s exhibition against Puerto Rico and played fine, but he mostly struggled in the final tune-up against Slovenia.
As the Americans prepare to open the World Cup against Finland on Saturday, should they worry about Rose’s health?
Marc Stein of ESPN:
You can probably guess, given the rampant pooh-poohing to this point, what Rose had to say about the state of his health after logging an underwhelming 20 minutes off the bench behind starter Kyrie Irving in which he was clearly looking to pass more than anything.
“I’m past my injuries,” Rose said.
What else is Rose supposed to say? At this point, he’s on the team, and unless he just physically can’t play, anything less than complete confidence in his health would be counterproductive.
Still, it’s reasonable to be concerned. Rose has relied on his explosiveness, so any drop in athleticism could radically alter his effectiveness. Maybe Rose is prepared for that. Maybe he’s not.
Of course, Rose’s bad game isn’t necessarily related to health. Not everyone gets up for an exhibition against Slovenia. There are multiple possible explanations here.
Regardless of the reasoning, Rose seems to have fallen behind Kyrie Irving in the point guard rotation. Rose should still get plenty of playing time, and there will be more opportunities to see whether he’s truly past his injuries. For now, though, it’s fair to remain unconvinced.
Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.
Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.
Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.