Last season down the stretch, Boston went small more and more often, using Jae Crowder as a four. Small ball works (see the NBA champs) and the league is trending that way.
But Brad Stevens may have his Celtics working against the grain this season. Or at least he’s going to explore it.
With the additions of Amir Johnson and David Lee to go with Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, Stevens has options. He told Jay King of MassLive.com that he’s going to experiment a little.
This is the smart move to make — you have to adjust your system to the players, not go Mike D’Antoni and try to jam square pegs into round holes. (He eventually adjusted some with the Lakers, but not until it was too late.)
Plus, going against the grain can often be successful.
Small ball works — if you have the right players to execute it. Golden State went small but thanks to Draymond Green their defense didn’t suffer. Miami’s defense was quite good with Bosh as a center when they were winning. But those two teams have elite talent, and teams that do it and don’t have the talent can be exposed.
Meanwhile, guys like Lee, Jared Sullinger, Zeller, Olynyk, and crew could feast on small lineups. Stevens is smart enough to figure out what works best.
There are high hopes for the Canadian national team at FIBA Americas, which is a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada has qualified for just one of the last six Olympics (they finished seventh in 2000), but with an improved roster that includes Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, and six other NBA players, they are a team on the rise. And hope north of the border is rising with them.
One of those NBA guys is the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, but he tweaked his knee against Argentina. Olynyk sat out the next game, but the coach said not to worry.
Jay Triano said that again on Wednesday, reports Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
FIBA Americas starts Aug. 31; Canada opens the next day against Argentina (which is without Manu Ginobili).
This is good news for the Celtics and Olynyk as well.
Boston is loaded at the four — Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder — all can get some run at that slot. Any setback for Olynyk is not good, but this seems to be a minor one.
Kelly Olynyk faces plenty of competition for playing time this season. Jared Sullinger, David Lee, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, Perry Jones III, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder could all see minutes at power forward.
So, even the smallest setback could put Olynyk behind the eight ball with the Celtics.
It seems that’s what Olynyk faces after playing for Canada in an FIBA Americas tuneup against Argentina.
Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:
Olynyk returning to the bench seems positive, but it’d be reassuring to hear an official diagnosis.
Once upon a time, UCLA forward Kevon Looney was considered a surefire lottery pick, but concerns about his hip raised red flags around the league. The Warriors took him 30th overall in June, the final pick of the first round of the draft, and they’ve announced that he’ll be out four to six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Here’s the team’s press release:
Golden State Warriors forward Kevon Looney underwent a successful right hip arthroscopy this morning to repair a torn labrum, the team announced today. The procedure was performed by renowned Steadman Clinic orthopaedic surgeon and hip specialist Dr. Marc Philippon at the Vail Valley Surgery Center in Vail, Colorado.
Looney will begin rehabilitation from the surgery immediately and is expected to be out a minimum of four-to-six months before returning to basketball activity.
“Kevon has his entire NBA career ahead of him and we felt that, in consultation with our medical staff, Kevon and his representatives, it was best to address the issue now,” said Warriors General Manager Bob Myers. “He will have our complete support throughout the rehabilitation process and we are confident he will make a full recovery.”
The Warriors are in a fortunate position with Looney because they didn’t need much out of him in his rookie season. They’re coming off a historically great season that included 67 regular-season wins and the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years. Other than trading David Lee and picking up Jason Thompson, their roster is essentially the same as it was last season, which means it’s going to be virtually impossible for a rookie to compete for minutes with the likes of Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala. They drafted Looney because they saw him as more talented than the 30th pick and they could afford to take a long-term, proactive approach with his health. Nipping this issue now, while he’s not needed on the court, makes sense.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called this week’s minicamp mandatory for players who wanted to represent Team USA in the 2016 Olympics.
But, apparently, he didn’t mean mandatory mandatory.
Kobe Bryant is still in contention for Rio, and so is at least one other player not in Las Vegas: Andre Iguodala.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Iguodala is one of seven players previously in the player pool who weren’t expected to attend the minicamp. The other six:
- Tyson Chandler
- Kyle Korver
- David Lee
- Damian Lillard
- Derrick Rose
- Deron Williams
Do any other players have excused absences? I doubt Lillard does. Rose carries such a high profile, we’d probably know if he did. But I wouldn’t rule out Chandler, Korver, Lee and/or Williams.
Even if those four are still under consideration for 2016, I doubt they’d make it. Ditto Iguodala.
Like Chandler and Williams, Iguodala won a gold medal in 2012. He’s a glue player – capable of defending multiple positions and a good enough 3-point shooter. But he’ll also be 32 for Rio.
His 2012 contributions should give him a little extra leeway, and his wedding is a good reason to miss the minicamp. Kudos to Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski for not being unreasonable hardliners on the rules.
Iguodala still deserves a chance to earn inclusion on the merits. It’s just hard to see him playing well enough to take advantage of that opportunity.