John Wall was just at the Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas. He is a top-five point guard in the NBA. He has developed into the point guard the Wizards hoped they would get when they selected him No. 1 in 2010.
But don’t expect to see him on the USA Basketball roster for the Rio Olympics next summer.
That’s not just my opinion — it’s what Wall himself told Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com.
“I’ll be out of the picture,” said Wall through a laugh and without any noticeable trace of resentment….
“I’m just being honest,” Wall continued. “Chris Paul has already won one (Olympic gold medal). Steph Curry had an amazing last year and just won the World Cup. Kyrie just won the World Cup. Russell will probably be on the team. They’ll use him as a two-guard. So, I probably won’t make it.”
It’s simply a numbers game.
The USA usually takes four or five guards, three of them point guards (James Harden and Klay Thompson likely are at the two guard spots, in my opinion). Stephen Curry is a lock. If Chris Paul wants to go, he is a lock. And then it comes down to the athletic freak and former Olympian that is Russell Westbrook (I think he makes the team), but if not him then it’s Kyrie Irving, who played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and played well for Team USA last summer at the World Cup. Wall said he thinks Irving makes it.
If everyone’s healthy, Wall just misses the cut. Team USA needs three point guards and he’s fifth. Point guard is a ridiculously deep position for Team USA, which is a nice luxury to have, but some very good players just miss the cut.
It happened to DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard seemingly every game. It happened to guys such as Josh Smith, although less often.
But when it came to the Pistons’ Andre Drummond, there was not a lot of hack-a-Drummond taking place. That despite the fact he shot just 38.7 percent from the free throw stripe last season.
The Pistons should be improved this season, and Drummond should be at the heart of it — he had 27 points and 16 rebounds in the Team USA exhibition last week. He’s going to draw more attention and it he’s shooting around 40 percent from the line there will be hacking.
His coach, Stan Van Gundy, told Zach Lowe of Grantland on his podcast that he’s not worried about it (hat tip to the Detroit Free Press).
“We had teams do it,” said Van Gundy. “Quite honestly if we get better we’ll see it more. I had Dwight Howard and I also had Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) so I’ve been through this before. In terms of wins and losses it just hasn’t been that effective. It might be effective for a possession or two….
“I don’t think it’s hopeless,” said Van Gundy. “I think my hope would be that this year we could get him up over 50% and we could start pushing 60%. If you get him over 50% then it’s not really an effective strategy. If you get to 52% then you’re having a quality possession.”
The average NBA team averaged 1.025 points per possession last season, so you can see where Van Gundy is going here — even at 52 percent that’s well above average.
The Pistons are talking extension with Drummond, and they will give him the max (it is possible the sides decide to do what Kawhi Leonard did with the Spurs and wait to sign next summer, giving them more cap space to chase free agents). The Pistons are going to pay Drummond to be their future, their cornerstone.
Will free throws be his Achilles heel, or will he knock enough down to take that off the table?
30 years after getting his own shoe with Nike, Michael Jordan is getting his own store. After the wild success of the Air Jordan line of sneakers, Jordan’s name has been spun off into its own separate brand under the Nike umbrella, which counts Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony among its endorsers. Now, for the first time ever, Jordan Brand is going to have its own store, separate from the rest of the Nike family. This location in Chicago will exclusively sell Jordan products.
From ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson and Darren Rovell:
“I’ve been on these guys [at Nike] for some time, [saying] ‘We need to do a Jordan Brand store, and we need to do it in Chicago first,'” Michael Jordan told ESPN.com.
In the past year, a partnership between Nike and Footaction yielded Flight 23 stores in New York, in Las Vegas and two in suburban Chicago. But the new downtown location, named after its address, 32 South State Street, is the first that won’t be a co-branded location. It will be all Jordan.
The idea behind the store is not only to offer a wider selection of Jordan-branded product but also to tell the Jordan story and become part of the community. A space above the store can be used for Jordan-sponsored athletes or as a promotional space.
Chicago obviously seems like the ideal location for a flagship store for Jordan. Even though he’s now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, he still has deep ties to the city of Chicago, where he won six NBA championships and became arguably the greatest player of all time.
As a reminder, here were the rosters for last night’s Team USA scrimmage:
Blue Team (Monty Williams, coach):
Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Victor Oladipo, and Elfrid Payton.
White Team (Tom Thibodeau, coach):
Arron Afflalo, Michael Carter-Williams, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Terrence Jones, Kawhi Leonard, Mason Plumlee, Klay Thompson, C.J. Watson.
Austin Rivers’ takeaway?
Rivers certainly doesn’t lack confidence – which is his biggest problem as a player. He too often takes bad shots or dribbles into trouble, because he believes he’s good enough to handle it.
This tweet gives little hope he better grasps his limitations.
To be fair, Rivers has improved each of his three NBA seasons. How dreadful he was as a rookie certainly plays a part, but Rivers has made nice progress. Most Improved Player is a good goal for him.
The rest is nonsense.
Maybe – maybe – Rivers is better than Watson, a non-Team USA minicamper invited to fill out the roster. But a lot of those dudes? It’s just insulting to them, which Rivers seemed to realize before he went further:
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Derrick Rose wouldn’t play for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics, because Rose missed this week’s minicamp mandatory for Olympic consideration.
Don’t hold Colangelo to that, though.
Colangelo, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I always said you never shut the door entirely on anyone. I mean, why? To prove what? Was I disappointed Derrick [Rose] wasn’t here? Sure. Because, we want the best for him. We want the best for him. We want him to get back to the level that he once was. So let’s just see how things go in the future.”
This is the logical approach.
Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Mike Conley and Michael Carter-Williams deserve credit for attending the minicamp. That should give them an advantage over Rose.
Even without that advantage, it’s difficult to see Rose being more deserving than three of that group. With the advantage, it’s nearly impossible.
But it’s not completely impossible. If Rose reverts to his MVP form – Westbrook indicates it’s possible – and other point guards don’t play for whatever reason, Rose might deserve to represent the Americans in Rio.
I’m hardly counting on that, but Rose is still in the running. He’s just starting behind the blocks.