Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:57 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
A recent report indicated that USA Basketball is set to announce its preliminary roster for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster reportedly will include members of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team and the 2010 Turkey World Championships team.
Initially, the report indicated that the preliminary roster would be made up of 18 players, however SheridanHoops.com reports that the roster is now 19 players deep with the addition of Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Here's how the reported roster shakes out by position.
Point Guards: Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Shooting Guards: Kobe Bryant, Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade
Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Lamar Odom
Power Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love
Centers: Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard
A few interesting things to note from this roster.
First, veteran point guard Billups is included rather than the younger and more talented Rajon Rondo, who withdrew from the 2010 team after it became clear he was going to be left off of the final roster. Billups is 35 and figures to be one of the seven players cut from what will be the final 12-man roster. What does Rondo's exclusion mean for his Team USA future?
Second, positional versatility and two-way play was clearly valued in this selection process. The inclusion of both Iguodala and Odom over Rudy Gay is a mild surprise but both players complement the likes of James, Durant and Anthony a bit better. Both will also have a tough time squeezing into the final 12. The only way Iguodala gets there is if someone else is injured; Odom, a standout for the 2010 team, could be one of the toughest cuts.
Third, the reported addition of Aldridge creates an intriguing frontcourt logjam, akin to the dilemma that faces Western Conference All-Star team voters. Aldridge, Griffin, Love, Odom and Chandler figure to be in competition for the final two roster spots, with the top-10 seemingly secure. Griffin would seem to be the odds-on favorite for one of those two spots given his combination of on-court skills and immense international marketing potential. If so, the battle for the final spot between the other four talented big men will be heated.
Aldridge can swing between the four and five better than any of the other candidates, but he also has the least Team USA experience, having backed out on the 2010 World Championships team. Aldridge's coach with the Blazers, Nate McMillan, happens to be a Team USA assistant, so that could help.
Love is the best rebounder of the group but his athleticism, even though it's much improved, is not on the same level as the rest of Team USA. Chandler boasts a championship pedigree with the Dallas Mavericks and is the pure defender and long, active big men that could be the centerpiece of an aggressive defensive unit. Odom's versatility and perimeter game creates mismatch opportunities but the wings are likely too crowded on this team to properly utilize his capabilities.
Spain, the reigning European champs, bring both Pau and Marc Gasol to the table. Howard plus any of Team USA's starting power forwards should still have an interior advantage, but choosing the reserve big men will be critical in the event of foul trouble.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:54 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:33 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
With the 2012 London Olympics just seven months away, Team USA is reportedly heading for its first round of roster cuts.
ESPN.com reports that USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo will announce a roster of 18 "candidates" to make the 2012 team in less than two weeks.
"We have so much talent right now, the pool is extraordinary," Colangelo said.The site reports that the only player not on either the 2008 Beijing Olympics team or the 2010 Turkey World Championships team who is under consideration is Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin. Given his starpower, Griffin seems a lock, leaving 17 spots in the pool.
Eight of those are expected to go to 2008 Beijing Gold Medal-winning players: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams. All seem solid locks.
That least nine spots for members of the 2010 World Championship team. Six players who would seem to be locks from that roster: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
That leaves three final spots in the 18-man pool contenders for the rest: Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, Brook Lopez, Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo.
The toughest decision at this stage will likely come in choosing a third true center in Lopez or another talented perimeter player in Granger, Iguodala or Odom. USA Basketball has been built on versatility and athleticism in the recent past but its wings are crowded with an embarrassment of riches. Love and/or Griffin could swing up from power forward to center, though, which could free up a spot for another wing in the 18-man group.
Another question is Rondo. He withdrew from selection from the 2010 team after it became clear he wasn't going to make the cut. Given the big names in front of him (Paul, Rose, Williams and likely Westbrook), what happens here? Paul and Williams both have recent injury concerns and Rondo's talent level is such that leaving him off this early would seem a risk not worth taking.
No matter how you slice it and regardless of who is left on the outside looking in, this team is stacked. Looking ahead, assuming full health from all involved, an 18-player pool and a final 12-man roster could look something like this. Cuts designated in parentheses.
PG: Paul, Rose, Williams, (Westbrook), (Rondo)
SG: Bryant, Wade, (Gordon)
SF: James, Durant, Anthony, (Gay)
PF: Bosh, Griffin, (Love)
C: Howard, Chandler, (Lopez)
Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:50 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 10:15 am
By Matt Moore
If Knicks fans want a reason to believe in the quality of the Tyson Chandler acquisition, look no further than Iasiah Thomas. Because he didn't like it. The New York Postreports:
Conveniently appearing on the Sid Rosenbug Show on Miami radio yesterday following the Knicks’ 2-4 start, Thomas questioned Glen Grunwald’s acquisition of Chandler, which forced the team to cut Chauncey Bilups to get under the salary cap.via Isiah Thomas, former Knicks president, not thrilled with Tyson Chandler acquisition - NYPOST.com.
Thomas is right, here.
I know, I know. We're uncomfortable with that statement as well.
But it has less to do with the state of the league than D'Antoni says. The Bulls teams that ended the Pistons' run didn't have great point guards. Yes, they had the greatest shooting guard of all time, but calling Jordan a guard is like calling a T-Rex a lizard. Yes, it's technically true but you don't compare its danger level to a gecko. Furthermore, the Lakers' dynasty under Phil Jackson featured a star shooting guard, but also had Derek Fisher at point guard. Billups was always going to play point gaurd for the Knicks, and the shooting guard scoring load on the perimeter is held by Carmelo Anthony.
But the Knicks do need a point guard, because of their coach. D'Antoni is under heavy fire from fans and pundits right now, despite the fact that it's clear this is not the roster he would assemble if he had his choice. His system needs a playmaker. Anthony's only play is to score. It's not just Steve Nash. The Knicks looked more cohesive last year with Raymond Felton who is a huge downgrade from Nash offensively. It's like trying to run a car without an ignition system. So in that sense, Thomas is on target.
But here's where he's wrong.
Chandlr wasn't the wrong acquisition. Chandler has brought defense and a better attitude to the Knicks. He can change the course of a game and provides a defensive balance to D'Antoni's offensively-geared staff. Chandler is not the poor fit for the Knicks. Anthony is.
Anthony is a scoring wing. But even that's fine and great in D'Antoni's system. And he's a small forward, who next to Amar'e Stoudemire, could be great. But Anthony is primarily an isolation, off-the-drible shooter. He's a great rebounder, and that's a legitamate boost for the Knicks, but offensively, there's not much more of a worse fit for the Knicks an D'Antoni than Anthony.
Chandler wasn't where they went wrong. And keeping Billups wasn't a mistake, as he has passed the point where he can consistently contribute efficiently, and isn't a playmaking guard at this point. But the Knicks' design may have been damaged already... by Thomaz' involvement in the Anthony saga.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:34 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 2:50 am
By Matt Moore
The Knicks wilt again out West, the Thunder rise and fire, and the Blazers win the best game of the night. Here's your nightly report card.
One day removed from a horrid shooting performance in a near-loss and after a brief altercation with Kevin Durant that subsequently became the biggest story in the league for a day, Russell Westbrook brought the Thunder back. He made all the plays late starting with a dunk and-one off a steal. He hit big shots when he needed to and grabbed a huge offensive rebound off a Durant miss late. It was a terrific job by a player with a lot of pressure on him, and showed why the Thunder believe he and Durant can be special together.
Westbrook isn't the pure point a lot of people think Durant needs. But in terms of scoring point guards, he's one of the best in the league. His fearlessness and ability to make things happen in key moments should not be overshadowed by a handful of poor shooting nights for the young player. Westbrook is a legitimate star who plays on the same stage, if not level, as Kevin Durant.
A: Los Angeles Lakers
Ball movement. Help defense. Efficiency. The Lakers won with good basketball. Not superstar power, though Pau Gasol played well. They weren't pretty or fun to watch, they just worked to create open shots and knocked them down. Even when the Lakers were losing earlier this week, they had great effort, just poor execution. Against the Knicks, they really turned the effort into execution and simply played better basketball against what is arguably a more talented team in terms of star power.
B: Houston Rockets
The Spurs didn't have it, but the Rockets also never allowed them to find it Thursday night. The Rockets ran efficient offense over and over, getting contributions from their key guys and really attacked the Spurs inside with Samuel Dalembert. It was a key win after a disappointing opener against the Magic. Kevin Martin stopped being terrible and went back to Kevin-Martin-hood.
B: Portland Trail Blazers
They won against a very good Nuggets team and kept their hot streak alive. They shot 51 perent from the field. They also turned the ball over 25 times and let the Nuggets back in it after a huge initial rush. They lost the free throw battle. In reality, they had a hot night, shooting 51 percent from the field. They also played solid defense, if allowing a number of open looks. These two teams are evenly matched and the Blazers edged them. Room for improvement, but they get a B.
C: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks got a number of things to go their way in this game, and also played much better. The ball movement was there, Dirk was resurrected from lockout hibernation (29 and 10), JET was firing, and Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood played well inside. But their defense was still several steps off of last year, and for crying out loud, the only guy in the building you have to guard with 1.4 seconds left and you give him a look? Better, Mavericks. Not good.
Dirk nabbed a technical for complaining about a call in the fourth quarter. Was just a terrible time for that kind of a tech.
D: New Jersey Nets
Missing Brook Lopez? Sure. But the effort isn't there, from any of the players. How exactly are you going to convince Dwight to come there by getting killed by him?
F: New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, point forward is not walking through that door. Carmelo Anthony, ball-stopping shooter is. Both Anthony and Stoudemire struggled mightily against a Lakers defense that attacked their dribble whenever they got the ball. The Knicks have no creator, no initiator, no playmaker, just bullets and no gun. Oh, and defensively? Renaldo Balkman spent the most time guarding Kobe Bryant. Whoever had that idea needs to spend some time reconsidering the way he approaches the world.
Incomplete: San Antonio Spurs
Back-to-back, but after two really solid defensive games the Spurs took a giant step backwards Thursday night.
E for Effort: Orlando Magic
It's not hard to beat the Nets. But the Magic are firing on all cylinders right now. Dwight Howard with 24 rebounds, Ryan Anderson 22 points. The Magic are still a good team in the middle of all the turmoil. Again, against the Nets. But still.
Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Terry, Serge Ibaka. Steve Blake. Pau Gasol. Josh McRoberts, Luis Scola. Jimmer. Wesley Matthews.
Posted on: December 25, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 9:41 pm
By Matt Moore
Theory: The Knicks are still learning defense but they have a path to it.
Proof: For a quarter it certainly looked like the Knicks were the same team they always have been under Mike D'Antoni. But excepting the third quarter 35-17 meltdown by the New York Knicks, the home team put in the effort and technique on the defensive end, and that's what led to their two-point win over the same team who swept them in last year's playoffs, the Boston Celtics. Well, that and Carmelo Anthony.
But outside of that horrific run to start the second half, the Knicks showed what you want to see if you're a New York fan. They were active defensively, especially when Tyson Chandler was in the game. They repeatedly attacked the Celtics at the rim (11 blocked shots). They held a huge advanteage on the offensive glass until the third quarter which accounts for a signifianct portion of Boston's advantage on the glass.
There was a different feel for the Knicks, who wound up winning the game by defending a Kevin Garnett fadeaway jumper well enough. The Knicks also flashed a new attitude, repeatedly standing up to Boston's bullying approach, concluding with Bill Walker getting in Garnett's grill after his miss, then taking a shot to the throat from Garnett. This is an ugly, tense, rivalry that gets nastier with every game.
And for once, it looks like the Knicks are ready to bow up to the bullies. Throw in the best scoring frontcourt in the league and the Knicks have their season off to the start they wanted. Even despite that third quarter.
Posted on: December 24, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 11:44 am
By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver.
Update (Christmas morning): Boston.com reports that Celtics forward Paul Pierce has been ruled "out" for the Christmas Day season opener against the New York Knicks because of the heel injury. Celtics forward Sasha Pavlovic will get the start.
Original post: Maybe Paul Pierce, who has missed Celtics workouts because of a bruised heel, is just being a good teammate. Maybe he's just doing it for moral support. But given his history of saying he's out and then suddenly appearing on the floor, this news has to give the Knicks and all Celtics fans pause.
The Celtics' twitter account posted Saturday that Pierce will join the team in New York for its opener Sunday against the Knicks. Doc Rivers had said Pierce was listed as "doubtful" for the game earlier this week.
Pierce's absence would be devastating for the Celtics who are thin at small forward anyway, particularly after Jeff Green's heart condition was revealed to force him into missing the season. Carmelo Anthony has to be not only accounted for defensively, but matched in terms of scoring output, since the odds of shutting down Anthony are slim. The Celtics will miss Pierce on multiple levels if out, however.
The Celtics have been known in the past to say a player is out before they decide to take the floor. But the Celtics might choose to be cautious considering the strain the upcoming shortened season may have on Pierce and the other starters. The objective is to make the playoffs. The big picture has to come first for a team this thin and with this much age on its stars.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:20 pm
By Matt Moore
We're less than a week away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We finish with the Atlantic Division.
Boston Celtics, 56-26, lost second round of Eastern Conference Playoffs to Heat, 4-1
New York Knicks, 42-40, lost first round of Eastern Confernce Playoffs to Celtics, 4-0
Philadelphia 76ers, 41-41, lost first round of Eastern Conference Playoffs to Heat, 4-1
New Jersey Nets, 24-58, NBA Lottery
Toronto Raptors, 22-60, NBA Lottery
Best team: Boston Celtics
One more year. That's what the Celtics get. One more year to rule the roost. The Celtics have one more ride left with this core and then it's a sail off into the sunset while the team tries to figure out how to rebuild around Rajon Rondo. But with the extra time off, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce should be in good shape to make one more run at a title in order to validate themselves as one of the truly great teams of this era. (Pierce is already questionable for Sunday's opener vs. the Knicks.)
Without a second title, the Celtics have to be considered a disappointment. Winning a championship is supposed to validate everything, yet the Celtics were supposed to win multiple titles when the Big 3 formed. Good enough for the rest of the league is not good enough for the Celtics. But injuries and then a slow fade has denied them, as well as improvements in star power for the Heat and Lakers. The Celtics are still a dominant team, built around defense and reliable offensive weaponry. Their veteran experience helps them dismantle younger teams and their toughness helps them outlast weaker, more explosive teams.
But there's no stopping age, and this team is at the end of its run. They've got once chance, with a phenomenally weak bench, tougher competition, and continuing injury issues to try and surprise everyone and go out on top. One more chance to ride off into the sunset. Saddle up.
Worst team: Toronto Raptors
The Nets are hanging above this spot by a thread. A thin thread. A very, very thin thread. They have questions at every position except point guard and coach Avery Johnson has not taken the team by storm. But Deron Williams and the possibility of getting Dwight Howard keeps them out of the bottom.
We know who the Raptors are. They don't rebound. They don't defend. They struggle with toughness. They don't have a star. They don't have any complete offensive players. But there's reason to believe they might shake this bottom spot. Dwane Casey comes from Dallas with a determination to change the culture defensively. DeMar DeRozan has the chance to take the next step. Ed Davis looks like a beast in the making. There are good players on this roster. Unfortunately, everything hinges on everyone's least favorite Raptor, Andrea Bargnani. The fans are done with Bargnani for his lack of defense and rebounding. Unless he comes out dominant in the paint, he'll continue to be the object of scorn. With no real center on the roster (Jamal Magloire is starting), it's hard to see any real improvement for the Raps. They'll likely be at the bottom of the division, but there's always a chance they can surprise.
Biggest surprise: New York Knicks
The Knicks are going to surprise one way or another. Because if they fail to secure a top-five pick this season, it will be a letdown. Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler can't make a top-four seed? And if they do make a top-four seed, it means that the Knicks have started to play defense, which is a stunner all its own.
The Knicks are at once a title contender and a non-factor in the Eastern Conference. It's just a matter of which side of the Hudson you're on. Melo is either going to be an MVP candidate, or fail miserably at point forward. Tyson Chandler is either going to make all the difference, or be an injury-prone non-factor who can't cover for all the other weaknesses. There's little in-between. But the Knicks in a full season together with a better combination of talent should take a step forward. This is a super-team that has not been built with a clean carving. It's rough, it's wild, and it operates for the most inventive head coach in the league. The Knicks may wind up exactly where they were last season.
But the ride should be full of surprises for someone, anyway.
Three Best Players: Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Amar'e Stoudemire
I couldn't win here. I left off Carmelo Anthony, which is going to drive Knicks fans batty. I included Amar'e Stoudemire, which is going to light the fires on half the people who read this. I excluded Ray Allen, the best pure shooter in the league. Paul Pierce isn't on here despite being the clutchest of the clutch. Kevin Garnett's on here, and some people think he's past the point of no return. Andre Iguodala is one of the best all-around players in the league and he's not even close to being on here. Deron Williams' team may win 20 games this season and he's on here. And Andrea Bargnani... no. Andrea Bargnani would not be on here. But the point is this division is long on players with top level ability. There are seven to eight names you can put on here as "the best."
Biggest Question: Can the Knicks gel?
Putting together a three-headed monster all in the frontcourt is a risky proposition. There's not a player to bind it all together. No creator. The absence of a viable point guard for the Knicks, at least until Baron Davis gets healthy, means that the frontcourt has to run an offense itself. It's like asking a plane to fly itself without navigation. The Knicks were up and down all season, including during the stretch with Melo and STAT, mostly on account of not knowing how to work with one another. But with one being a high-usage small forward and the other being a high-usage power forward, can they work together? Is this a combination of players that makes sense?
The Knicks can win with this group because stars win games. But can they win the big games, can they make the jump to an elite team? More importantly, can they establish an identity going forward? The Knicks have tossed together two of the best players in the game and then added one of the best big men in terms of rebounding and defense out there. But can talent alone spell greatness? And if not... what does that mean for Mike D'Antoni?
2012 Projected Standings:
1. Boston Celtics
2. New York Knicks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. New Jersey Nets
5. Toronto Raptors
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:32 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Celebrate Kris Humphries, you just beat out LeBron James for something. Well, maybe you should check what that something is first.
According to Forbes, via a poll conducted Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research, Humphries was voted the NBA's most disliked player. Fifty percent voted to dislike Humphries while No. 2, LeBron, picked up 48 percent. I guess people either were really mad about the 72-day Kim Kardashian marriage or there are a lot of sympathetic people towards Kim K. I have a feeling it's not the latter.
“He’s been on five magazine covers, all in a negative light,” Stephen Master, VP at Nielsen Sports, which helped run the survey, told Forbes. “It’s all so recent, he’s gotten all this publicity for something other than basketball talent.”
It is surprising that a little reality show and Hollywood marriage would bump Humphries all the way up this list topping people like LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker (who divorced from actress Eva Longoria with reports of cheating), Kobe Bryant (who is getting divorced) and Chris Bosh.
I'm noticing a theme though: NBA fans don't like divorce, I guess.
Here's the full top 10:
1. Kris Humphries (50 percent dislike)
2. LeBron James (48 percent)
3. Kobe Bryant (45 percent)
4. Tony Parker (37 percent)
5. Metta World Peace (36 percent)
6. Chris Bosh (34 percent)
7. Carmelo Anthony (27 percent)
8. Paul Pierce (25 percent)
9. Dwyane Wade (23 percent)
10. Lamar Odom (21 percent)