Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico submit their final rosters for the FIBA World Championships

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marc-gasol.jpgThe selection process for Team USA rages on (and likely will until the 11th hour), but three teams — Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico — have finalized their rosters for the FIBA World Championships. Take a look:

SPAIN

G José Calderon
G Rudy Fernandez
F Jorge Garbajosa
C Marc Gasol
F Álex Mumbrú
G Juan Carlos Navarro
FC Felipe Reyes
G Ricky Rubio
F Fernando San Emeterio
F Victor Claver
FC Fran José Vázquez
G Sergio Llull

ROSTER CHANGES FROM THE 2008 OLYMPICS
Added Fernando San Emeterio, Victor Claver, Fran José Vázquez, and Sergio Llull. Dropped Pau Gasol, Carlos Jiménez, Raúl Lopez, and Berni Rodriguez.

MISCELLANEOUS

Pau Gasol’s presence would have made Spain the obvious favorites to take the World Championship, but as it stands the Spanish national team is more or less on-par with the Americans. It’s worth noting that of the 12 players on Spain’s roster, nine of them have NBA ties.

ARGENTINA

G Carlos Delfino
C Román González
C Juan Pedro Gutiérrez
F Leonardo Gutiérrez
F Federico Kammerichs
F Andres Nocioni
C Fabricio Oberto
G Pablo Prigioni
G Paolo Quinteros
F Luis Scola
G Juan Pablo Cantero
F Hernán Jasen

ROSTER CHANGES FROM THE 2008 OLYMPICS
Added Juan Pablo Cantero and Hernán Jasen. Dropped Antonio Porta and Manu Ginobili.


MISCELLANEOUS

With national team regular Manu Ginobili watching from the sidelines this summer, Argentina will rely even more heavily on NBAers Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino. Delfino has played a point-guardish role for Argentina before, and he should be able to replicate Ginobili’s ability to run the offense while still acting as a scoring threat (though obviously without Manu’s high-level production and signature flair). Argentina may have lost its top player and a natural leader, but there’s still plenty of talent here.

PUERTO RICO

C Peter John Ramos
G J.J. Barea
G Carlos Arroyo
G Christian Dalmau
G Larry Ayuso
F Angel Daniel Vassallo
F Ricardo Sanchez
C Daniel Santiago
F Renaldo Balkman
F Carmelo Antrone Lee
F Nathan Anthony Peavy
G Filiberto Rivera

ROSTER CHANGES FROM THE 2008 OLYMPICS
N/A – Puerto Rico didn’t qualify.


MISCELLANEOUS

The Puerto Rican team is a bit guard-heavy in its orientation, but those guards are talented enough to make PR an interesting squad. Still, they’re a good ways down the World Championship pecking order, and aren’t quite in the same tier as either Spain or Argentina. However, as Jay Aych noted at The Painted Area, Puerto Rico should have something of an advantage chemistry-wise after competing together through most of the summer (they’ve already played through Centrobasket and the Centro American Games). This is also Denver Nugget Renaldo Balkman’s first summer playing for Puerto Rico.

Birthday boy Karl-Anthony Towns giving Timberwolves even more reason to celebrate

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Tom Thibodeau is gone. Jimmy Butler is gone. Karl-Anthony Towns has taken greater ownership with the Timberwolves.

Towns organizes team-building activities like Topgolf and a halloween party. Towns gives the pump-up speech before each game. Towns communicates more on the floor.

That’s why, Towns said, he didn’t even realize his birthday was approaching until his parents recently reminded him.

“I get caught up in work,” Towns said.

Whether or not Towns actually needed the reminder, let alone for such a flattering reason, his birthday – which is today – got him reflecting. He felt old.

So, Towns mentioned to Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders that his birthday was around the corner. Saunders had the opposite realization: Towns is turning 24 today. Just 24!

“He’s still young,” Saunders said. “As a coach, that gets me excited.”

Towns is one of the NBA’s special talents – a proven star with room to improve. Picking up the momentum he built last season, Towns appears to be really coming into his own this year.

The center is posting his usual impressive numbers (25.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game), but his new attitude has stolen the show. He fought Joel Embiid and went face-to-face with Rudy Gay.

Don’t let the antics completely overshadow an impressive basketball story, though. Towns has led Minnesota to a surprising 7-4 start by revamping his game. Most of his shots are coming from beyond the arc, and his 4.2 assists per game are a career high.

By creating spacing and keeping the ball moving, Towns is contributing to a style that lifts all the Timberwolves. Perhaps, nobody has benefited more than Andrew Wiggins, who’s fitting right into this modern look.

The transformation is only the latest chapter for Towns, whose reputation has fluctuated significantly throughout his five-year career. This might explain why he already feels so old:

Minnesota drafted Towns No. 1 in 2015, and he won Rookie of the Year. In the 2016 and 2017 NBA general-manager survey, a plurality of voting executives picked Towns as the player they’d most like to start a team with. In the 2017 survey, Towns also received the most votes for league’s best center (even while getting a couple votes as league’s best power forward).

On paper, Towns delivered. He made his first All-Star and All-NBA teams the following season. He also reached the playoffs for the first time.

But Thibodeau and Butler butted heads with Towns, who never showed the hard edge those former Bulls tried to coax from him. After trading Butler, Minnesota went right back to losing.

In the 2018 and 2019 surveys, no general manager picked Towns to start a team with. Only a few picked him as best center.

Now, the landscape has shifted again. Anthony Davis spends a lot of time at power forward. Joel Embiid doesn’t stay as healthy. Nikola Jokic has fallen way off.

Towns is the early frontrunner for All-NBA first-team center.

“Everybody takes big steps in their growth at different times,” Saunders said, “and I think we’re seeing that from Karl.”

Towns can’t take anything for granted, and neither can the Timberwolves. But he at least has a good chance for vindication after his preseason playoff talk.

The way Towns has implemented more 3-point shooting into his game is particularly impressive. His 9.0 attempts per game lead NBA bigs, and he’s converting more than 40%. But floating on the perimeter was once a sign Towns was being too passive. Now, Towns is finding the right balance between spotting up beyond the arc and playing aggressively.

That’s in part his own mentality changing, in part his teammates’ mentality changing. Gone are the days when Towns could be an afterthought outside the paint.

“The ball is always going to find KAT,” Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie said. “He’s the center of our offense.”

Towns’ defensive intensity still comes and goes. He still must prove himself in the playoffs, and that usually requires trials and tribulations he hasn’t yet experienced.

But at age 24, Towns is finally/already showing something special.

DeAndre’ Bembry gets ejected for taunting Ricky Rubio, continued talking (video)

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The Hawks are rapidly changing. General manager Travis Schlenk took over just two years ago and has already turned over nearly the entire roster. Only DeAndre’ Bembry remains as an inherited player.

It’s not an easy situation for Bembry, who’s headed toward free agency next summer. He’s playing for a team with a lead executive who never chose him. Bembry can’t count on any team investing in him.

That’s the context in which Bembry got ejected from Atlanta’s loss to the Suns last night. He blocked Ricky Rubio‘s shot, taunted the Phoenix guard, got a technical foul, kept talking and got another technical foul.

The ejection seems pretty weak, but Bembry left himself vulnerable to the techs.

Hawks rookie Cameron Reddish also got ejected for multiple flagrant fouls.

Eric Bledsoe apparently bothered Bulls with post-buzzer dunk (video)

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Eric Bledsoe doesn’t care about the rules – written or unwritten.

As the buzzer sounded in the Bucks’ 124-115 win over the Bulls yesterday, Bledsoe dunked then hung on the rim. The basket came after time expired and didn’t count.

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young and coach Jim Boylen confronted Bledsoe on the court:

Young, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We all know what it is,” Young said. “They had the game won. There are some things you just don’t do at the end of games just out of common courtesy. We’ll move on. It is what it is. It happened. We just have to be ready when we play them in four or five days. We gotta be ready to get a win.”

“That’s with any team that cares about the morals and principles of the game,” Young said. “If we did that and the score was the opposite, they’d say the same thing. It is what it is. We just gotta be ready in four or five days. We gotta get a win. That’s the only way we can follow it back up now.”

Usually, I’d say: If you don’t like it, stop it. But that doesn’t really apply for a post-game dunk. There’s no defense after the buzzer.

Still, I’m not outraged by Bledsoe’s dunk. I bet, aside from Bulls partisans, most people aren’t (though plenty could work themselves into a tizzy if they desire). Some of Chicago’s bitterness probably stemmed from losing and allowing Bledsoe to score 31 points on 12-of-12 shooting inside the arc.

If the Bulls want to use this as motivation, more power to them. They should. Young, whose professionalism appears exemplary, is an ideal messenger.

But Boylen, who wouldn’t comment on this to the media, can’t claim the moral high ground.

Magic reveal orange uniforms

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It’s already difficult enough to flip on an NBA game and quickly determine which team is which. The home team could be wearing any color, so the same is true of road teams. Each team has had so many alternate jerseys in recent years. It’s disorienting.

Now, the Magic – whose primary colors have always been and remain blue, black, white and gray – might be wearing orange?

At least Orlando, because of the fruit (and, I guess, if you want to stretch it, sunshine), has a real connection to orange. That’s why these are the “orange uniforms,” even though they’re mostly gray.

I just beg of the powers that be: Please don’t have the Magic wear these against the Suns. I’ll never figure out which team is which.