Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:44 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 1:46 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The 2010 FIBA World Championships tip off tomorrow and let's be honest, outside of Team USA and a handful of NBA players scattered around other teams, we all don't know a ton about it. So here's your cheat sheet to catch up on the important parts of the games:
10 NON-NBA PLAYERS TO WATCH
Miroslav Raduljica, Serbia - The big Serbian was going to play a large role in this year's games before Nenad Krstic was suspended for three contests. Now, Serbia's early success may very well hinge on Raduljica. He runs the floor well, has soft hands and is one of the most improved players in Europe. He's eligible to enter the NBA draft next year and with a big showing in Turkey, might see his stock skyrocket.
Tibor Pleiss, Germany - Pleiss is property of the Oklahoma City Thunder and was taken in the early second round of this year's draft. He's 7'1, skilled with a lovely jumper that stretches out near the 3 and has an improving post game. He's already a quality rebounder and shot blocker, though as is the case with most young European big men, he needs strength. He's definitely an NBA caliber player at some point and he's one of Germany's top players. If Germany makes some noise in Turkey, it'll likely be because Pleiss did some breaking out.
Juan Carlos Navarro, Spain - Ah, the elusive JCN, or La Bomba as he's endearingly called in Spain. He's known in the States because of a brief stint with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007-08, but is known across international basketball as one of the most crafty, creative and skilled guards in the world. The lack of superior athleticism is what held him back in the NBA, but he has an array of runners, floaters and running jumpshots, plus is deadly when he's open. He's one of those players that's basically just fun to watch.
Ioannis Bourousis, Greece - Bourousis is coming back from a hand injury that forced him to miss most of Greece's exhibition games, but should be ready to go in Turkey. He's a massive seven-footer that weighs in at 280 pounds. Like Tim Duncan, he trained to be a professional swimmer before getting to big for the pool. He's surprisingly smooth on the post and at 26, has improved his game a lot since 2006 when the U.S. played Greece.
Victor Claver, Spain - Property of the Portland Trail Blazers, Claver is a classic swingman that prefers to run the floor and shoot jumpers. He's not strong and not a great ballhandler, but does finish well at the rim. He's huge at 6'10, but only weighs about 215 pounds. Teams with physical forwards will beat him up, but running the floor with Ricky Rubio will give him a chance to showcase his talents in the open court.
Matthew Nielsen, Australia - The Euro Cup Final Four MVP for Valencia last season, Nielsen is an accomplished international player. He's 32 and has spent time on multiple national teams for Australia. He's not overly skilled, but he's big at 6'10 and moves well. He scores outworking players inside, but is a quality post-up threat.
Tiago Splitter, Brazil - He counts here because he's not in the NBA yet. A recent signee of the Spurs, Splitter will be a player that NBA fanatics will have a close eye on these next few weeks. We've all heard about his skills for the last few years, but most haven't had a chance to see them in action. He's incredibly gifted around the basket and if he plays well, Brazil may make a run to the semi-finals.
Timofey Mozgov, Russia - Same as Splitter, Mozgov will be in the NBA next year with the New York Knicks. He's a true big man at 7'1, but runs the floor well. He's not especially polished offensively, but he uses his big body well. A lot of people have compared him to Marcin Gortat or Andris Biedrins because he scores a lot by playing physical inside. He'll be a project for the Knicks, but he'll be a feature for the Russians.
Ante Tomic, Croatia - Tomic is a gifted big man that has drawn comparisons to Pau Gasol because of his excellent footwork, soft touch and passing ability. He has range that stretches out close to the international 3, and is a player Croatia will likely center their offense around. He's rail thin though and his lack of strength is what really hurts him when talking about taking his game up a notch.
Ricky Rubio, Spain - Everyone knows about the flashy passes. Everyone's seen the YouTube mixtapes. Everyone knows he has a ton of talent. But not a lot of people have seen him actually play a full basketball game, outside of 2008's gold medal game. With Jose Calderon out, this team is Rubio's. He'll play the bulk of the minutes and run the show. He's a bit turnover prone and his stat line never seems to impress, but it's all about watching him. A game where he scores five points, dishes out four assists and has four steals may not seem like much, but he seriously impacted the game.
THE UNITED STATES GROUP PREVIEW
Most consider Group B to be the toughest in Turkey. Obviously there's Team USA, but Brazil, Slovenia and Croatia are all capable squads that should advance out of this group.
NBA players: Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa, Tiago Splitter, Nene (out with injury)
Prior to Nene's injury, Brazil was becoming a trendy pick to make the semi-finals and possibly the finals. The talent is there and it's not just in NBA players only. Former NBA players Alex Garcia and Marcus Vinicius clearly have skill, but Marcelo Machado is an excellent sharpshooter, Marcelo Huertas is a crafty point guard and Wellington Dos Santos may actually be faster than Barbosa.
Former Gonzaga star J.P. Batista has the ability to anchor the interior with Splitter and Varejao and with a combination of size and speed, Brazil is a team to take notice of. They want to play up-tempo and high pressure defense, and they have the players to do it.
NBA players: Roko Ukic
The Croatians are a squad that doesn't have a ton of top tier talent, but is deep and filled with quality players. The aforementioned Ante Tomic is the key. If he plays well and stays consistent throughout, Croatia could be a team that goes deeper than expected.
NBA players: Hamed Haddadi
This isn't a bad team. They aren't good, but they aren't that bad. They likely won't advance out of the group stage, but they definitely are a candidate to win a game or two. Teams like the United States will steamroll them, but they could definitely sneak up on Croatia and Slovenia, potentially making a little noise to finish in the top four.
NBA players: Goran Dragic, Primoz Brezec
As it is now, Slovenia is good. But if it had its entire roster with players like Beno Udrih, Sasha Vujacic, Rasho Nesterovic and Erazem Lorbek it could be really good. Slovenia should battle Croatia for third in this group, but is definitely good enough to get to second. It all hinges on Goran Dragic. He needs to score and create and if he can continue his good play, Slovenia should be fine.
NBA players: None
This is easily the worst team in the group. Its goal should be to maybe beat Iran and then keep games within 20. There's simply not enough talent on the roster to stay competitive. Honestly, Team USA could let Jim Boeheim and Nate McMillan start and it would still be a cakewalk.
NBA players: Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Chauncey Billups, Danny Granger, Stephen Curry
The clear favorite to win Group B and a favorite to win the whole thing. Obviously, Team USA has the most talent in the entire field. But playing together is the key. Coach K has done a fine job of establishing roles for players, but the lack of interior size could hurt the Americans the deeper the tournament goes. A game against Brazil in this group could be the only hangup, but Croatia and Slovenia aren't pushovers.
Despite this group probably be the toughest in the tournament, anything less that a 5-0 start for Team USA would be disappointing.
1. United States
FOUR GROUP STAGE GAMES TO WATCH
Saturday, August 28: Spain vs. France - Two traditional soccer powerhouses field pretty solid basketball teams. Spain should win, but Nicolas Batum has emerged as a go-to player for France to seeing him compete and defend the Spanish roster will be fun.
Monday, August 30: Brazil vs. USA - The winner of this game will likely win the group. It should be a fun game to watch too as both teams play pressure defense and prefer to push the pace. This one could easily have 200 combined points.
Monday, August 30: Croatia vs. Slovenia - A European rivalry game with the winner surely locking in a place in the tournament, and probably third place in Group B.
Tuesday, August 31: Greece vs. Turkey - Someone might be killed during this game. No, seriously. Both these teams HATE each other. I don't know if this will so much be a basketball game, as a 40-minute hip-checking contest.
United States - The most talent in the field, though maybe the least chemistry. The U.S. squad will have to find its identity and find it fast.
Spain - A chic pick to win gold, Spain has the talent, chemistry and leadership to win. Losing Jose Calderon hurts only the sense that backcourt depth is light. But if Spain is to seriously make this run, a player like Rudy Fernandez is going to have to elevate his game and play well.
Greece - The smallest player on the team is Vassilis Spanoulis, and he's "only" 6'4. So in other words, the Greek's are big. Greece is massive and what they lack in athleticism, they make up for in size and skill.
Argentina - The USA's old nemesis, Argentina has NBA talent in Carlos Delfino, Luis Scola and Fabrico Oberto. They'll surely miss Andres Nocioni and Manu Ginobili, but this is a team that should make an easy run to the quarters, probably the semifinals and possibly the finals.
Serbia - The suspensions to Nenad Krstic and Milos Teodosic definitely hurt, but there is enough on this roster still to get out of the group. And once they're full strength, this is a team that's good enough to be in the semifinals.
Brazil - The Brazilians seem to be flying a bit under the radar, but with a group of speedy, skilled players, they should get to the quarterfinals with ease and then past that, they're a tough matchup for anyone.
Turkey - The host country always seems to do well because the boost from a home crowd always helps. But Turkey has players too. There's Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova, Semih Erden and Omer Asik, all NBA players. Some are taking Turkey to get to the finals based only on the fact they're hosting, but they might get there because this roster has some serious talent.
Canada - Don't sleep on Canada. While not a lot of names on the roster jump out and there's no Steve Nash, they have all decent players and a few NBA guys in Joel Anthony and Andy Rautins. Canada beat Serbia and France in friendlies and isn't a walkover by any means.
Puerto Rico - This feisty group has three NBA players in J.J. Barea, Renaldo Balkman and Carlos Arroyo and has played well in exhibitions. They should get out of their group and in tournament play, they have the players to make a small run.
Australia - The Australians have slowly been building better basketball teams and this might be one of their best yet. There are two NBA players in David Andersen and Patty Mills, plus quality guys like A.J. Ogilvy and Matthew Nielsen. They lack athleticism, but if Mills can get his game going, Australia might sneak up on a few teams.
PREDICTION (see the full bracket)
Group A winner: Argentina (Serbia, Germany, Australia advance)
Group B winner: United States (Brazil, Slovenia, Croatia advance)
Group C winner: Greece (Turkey, Puerto Rico, Russia advance)
Group D winner: Spain (Lithuania, France, Canada advance)
Round of 16: Argentina defeats Croatia, Puerto Rico defeats Lithuania, Greece defeats Canada, Brazil defeats Germany, United States defeat Australia, Turkey defeats France, Spain defeats Russia, Slovenia defeats Serbia
Quarterfinals: Argentina defeats Puerto Rico, Brazil defeats Greece, United States defeat Turkey, Spain defeats Slovenia
Semifinals: Argentina defeats Brazil, United States defeat Spain
Third place: Spain defeats Brazil
Finals: United States defeat Argentina
Some don't like Team USA winning gold. But it's hard not to like them. The way the bracket sets up, if both Spain and the U.S. win their groups, they'll meet in the semifinals. So if the U.S. gets by Spain again, beat whoever comes their way in the gold medal game shouldn't be a huge issue.
The thing with Team USA is, they have more talent than anyone. They have more skill. They have more strength. They have more speed. They have more athleticism. The one thing they lack is size, and that's just in a traditional sense. Nobody can properly match up with the likes of Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay. Even figuring out how to guard Team USA's second unit would be tough. While no, this isn't a team full of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, this is a quality unit with a ton of talent. There will be some tough games for sure and the U.S. will rely on Rose and Durant to carry them through. But these guys should be up to the task to bring home gold for the first time since 1994.
Tags: 2010 World Championships, Anderson Varejao, Brazil, Carlos Arroyo, Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Ersan Ilyasova, Fabrico Oberto, Greece, Hedo Turkoglu, Kevin Durant, Leandro Barbosa, Lithuania, Luis Scola, Nenad Krstic, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook, Serbia, Stephen Curry, Team USA, Turkey
Posted on: August 2, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 5:35 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
With only a handful of free agents left on the market and with summer league over, we thought we'd take a look at how teams in the Central Division did over the summer in negotiating their moves.
Boston CelticsAdded: Ray Allen (re-signed), Paul Pierce (re-signed), Marquis Daniels (re-signed), Jermaine O'Neal (free agency), Nate Robinson (re-signed), Von Wafer (free agency), Avery Bradley (draft), Luke Harangody (draft)
Lost: Tony Allen (free agency), Shelden Williams (free agency)
Philosophy: "Ain't broke. Ain't fixing."
We thought they were too old to win last year, and they pushed the Lakers to seven games, and had a lead deep in the second half. Shows what we know. So the Celtics have rolled the dice with the same core again, another year older, another year slower, another year wiser, and for all intents and purposes, have changed almost nothing about their approach in a year.
Sure, adding Jermaine O'Neal gives them a fourth big to slot in, and will give Kendrick Perkins the time he needs to recover from surgery. But after dancing with the idea of trading Ray Allen, the Celtics re-signed the sharpshooter, gave Paul Pierce a new contract and for better or worse, have decided this is the ship they're going to sea with. It's had a ton of success, and obviously they feel that if they were able to go as deep as they did this year, there's no reason to believe they can't do the same this year.
The critics will add that Chicago, New York, and most especially Miami improved, but the Celtics will respond by saying those teams haven't proven anything. There's only one team that matters to Boston, and that team has the ring. Until then, they will consider the rest of the East nothing but pretenders. As long as they stay healthy, they have that right.
New Jersey NetsAdded: Derrick Favors (draft), Damion James (draft), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency), Travis Outlaw (free agency), Johan Petro (free agency)
Lost: Tony Battie (free agency), Keyon Dooling (free agency)
Philosophy: "In search of the meaning of Plan B'"
Man, what a letdown. They thought they had a shot at it all. Drafting John Wall. Signing his good friend, LeBron James. Building an empire in Brooklyn. Capitalizing on new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's wealth and power, minority owner Jay-Z's fame, and LeBron's game. It was all set up perfectly. And then one series of disasters after another occurred, and the Nets fell flat. Didn't even walk out with Carlos Boozer. Whiffed on every single one of the top flank free agents.
Don't get me wrong, Anthony Morrow is the steal of the summer. Great shooter, has upside, physical tools to be a better defender than he was in Golden State (like every Warrior). But Jordan Farmar means almost nothing to them. Derrick Favors is so raw he comes with a side of wasabi and ginger, and Johan Petro is... Johan Petro. Even with Travis Outlaw it's hard to see a plan in place, much less the execution of that plan. This team won't be as bad as it was last year, because it's almost impossible for them to. But it's hard to see them being much better.
New York Knicks
Added: Amar'e Stoudemire (sign-and-trade), Raymond Felton (free agency), Kelenna Azubuike (trade), Anthony Randolph (trade, Ronny Turiaf (trade), Timofey Mozgov (free agency), Andy Rautins (draft), Landry Fields (draft), Jerome Jordan (draft)
Lost: Chris Duhon (free agency), Al Harrington (free agency), Eddie House (free agency), Sergio Rodriguez (free agency), David Lee (sign-and-trade)
Philosophy: "Express yourself."
Stylin' and profilin', the Knicks are coming to town. This isn't the super-team Knicks fans hoped for, not even the contending team many expected given their cap space and market availability. In the end, the damage done by Isiah Thomas was just too severe (and sending him as your final LeBron pitcher? What's up with that?) But the Knicks' failures to land one of the Big 3 did mean they were able to concoct this roster, which is inconsistent, underdeveloped, and absolutely 100% interesting.
The idea of an Anthony Randolph-Amar'e Stoudemire pick and roll set is enough to send nouveau basketball philosophers into some sort of apoplectic shock. Meanwhile, Kelenna Azubuike gives D'Antoni the shooter he's been missing, and Turiaf brings some punch. This roster isn't perfect, far from it, but it's stocked with interesting, fun players, who can get up and down in D'Antoni's system. New York basketball may not be contending again, but it's going to be interesting. And that's enough to give Knicks fans what they want, to be relevant again. The real rebuilding starts here, and it's all around Amar'e Stoudemire. We're finally going to learn just how good Stoudemire is without Steve Nash.
Added: Evan Turner (draft), Tony Battie (free agency), Spencer Hawes (trade), Andres Nocioni (trade)
Lost: Samuel Dalembert (trade)
Philosophy: "Making fusion with carwrecks."
If Evan Turner isn't a Top-5 player in the NBA in five years, this year looks way worse. Switching coaches, the Sixers still held back from a complete blow-up, not moving Andre Iguodala or Elton Brand over the offseason. Brand's value is non-existent, but he's going to have to go if the team wants to completely start over. Meanwhile, Ed Stefanski changed coaches to Doug Collins, who's been broadcasting for quite a while, and traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni, or "the Big White Cap Blanket." The Sixers may have hit a home run when they lucked into the No.2 overall pick in Turner, but if the lack of explosiveness he showed in summer league is more than just a lack of offseason conditioning, things could get worse before they get better in Philly.
Added: Ed Davis (draft), Solomon Alabi (draft), Linas Kleiza (free-agency), Amir Johnson (re-signed), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Dwayne Jones (draft)
Lost: Chris Bosh (sign-and-trade), Antoine Wright (free agency), Hedo Turkoglu (trade)
Philosophy: "No way out."
The temptation will be to grade Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization for the mistakes of last summer, which came to hurt them last season and this summer. But that's not our goal here. Losing Bosh was a foregone conclusion, but they still have to take a hit for failing to convince him to stay, no matter how hard that would have been. But after that, Colangelo at least made the move that you have to make when faced with the destruction of everything you've worked for: set fire to the remains and collect the insurance. They traded Hedo Turkoglu and his massive new contract for short term contracts, and managed to get long-term assets in draft picks and trade exceptions from Miami for Bosh. They are committed to starting over, and though the money handed out to Kleiza and Johnson is not chump change, there's still a plan in place.
Expect for the rest of the Raptors to be moved to whatever degree they can be, while the team sees if it can rebuild around DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, who seem to hold a lot of potential under the radar. Colangelo did not take on massive contracts of a subpar free agent outside of Kleiza's swallowable deal, and the Raptors have flexibility to make the most of their future.
The only question is if Bryan Colangelo will be around to be a part of that future.
Posted on: August 2, 2010 10:34 am
Edited on: August 2, 2010 10:42 am
Posted by Royce Young
Posted on: July 12, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 2:14 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
So this big ol' series of trades went down late last night , and it's now evolving into something even more complex (KB has the rundown ). Here's the rundown for you for where we're at, with pieces still moving. We'll keep you updated, but as it stands:
Suns get: Hedo Turkoglu
Raptors get: Leandro Barbosa
Bobcats get: Jose Calderon
Hawks get: Trade exception
Okay, then. Glad you boys were able to find ways to amuse yourselves. Let's break it down team by team.
Suns: This is an incredibly complex deal for them with lots of variables and moving parts. To simplify. Hedo Turkoglu still has some life left in him and the magical healing powers in Phoenix could do wonders for him, but putting him at power forward could be outright disastrous and it otherwise creates a traffic jam at the wing. This is all besides the fact that he's really expensive. Childress on the other hand is a steal, who can run point forward, play from the wing, hit from the perimeter, is young, versatile, and is a tremendous pickup, especially at the sign-and-trade price they're getting him at.
The angle that gets really bizarre in this whole thing? The Suns have been reportedly pursuing agent Lon Babby for their general manager position. Okay, kind of a step outside the box, but nothing too weird. Except who are two of Babby's clients?
Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu.
Well, then. This rabbit hole seems to go a ways down. But all in all, this is a strong effort from the Suns who have given themselves options and depth with their moves after Amar'e. While they're definitely going to lose some punch, they may have acquired enough to stay in the race in the West, provided Steve Nash keeps being, you know, Steve Nash.
Raptors: You want a rebuilding project? Brian Colangelo will show you a rebuilding project! If Colangelo is able to get both of these deals he will have moved over $71 million in assets between Calderon and Turkoglu in under 12 hours, taking on $45 million for a defensive center who can actually rebound (when healthy), a versatile combo-forward-center, and a speedy 2-guard that can provide sixth man punch.
When you rebuild a team, you have to gut it. You can't wait around hoping to turn your piecemeal collection of underachieving assets into something good with the right additions, unless they're very young (Thunder). You take your biggest remaining contract and you ditch it. Then you take your next biggest contract and you try and ditch it. Then you fill in with talented guys at the end of their deals looking to hit free agency.
And that's what BC has done here. He hasn't brought in a savior, but he's brought on good players with short term deals. Chandler in particular will be the most attractive expiring contract on the market this year at $12.6 million. Barbosa has a player option for 2011 which he may exercise, depending on the CBA and how this year goes. And Diaw also has an expiring at 9 million. He hasn't just cut payroll with these moves while bringing in talent to tide the team over, he's done it in such a way as to give him even more tradeable assets.
Meanwhile, in shocking news, this team won't be able to defend anyone. As bad as they were on defense last year, and they were bad , they might be worse this season. Chandler hasn't proven he can stay healthy and his impact has been limited since New Orleans. Barbosa and Diaw are sieves and they lost their best defender in Bosh. But with Amir Johnson, there's some hope, along with Weems and DeRozan.
Bobcats: The team that rebuilds through trade keeps rolling along. Continuing a pattern of consistent trading throughout Larry Brown's time with the team, the Bobcats have moved yet another series of components in order to fill needs. Moving Chandler and Diaw makes room for Tyrus Thomas and cuts down their payroll while adding an actual legit point guard in Calderon. It does create some shallow depth down low, but also fills an immediate need at point guard with Raymond Felton dishing to Amar'e Stoudemire in New York. This isn't a coup, but it cuts salary and brings in offense, two things that Charlotte desperately needed.
Larry Brown is proving that you don't have to draft well to improve your team. There's more than one way to.. er, skin a cat.
Posted on: July 8, 2010 3:20 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 4:41 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
KB informed us that the Raptors are inching closer to a sign-and-trade agreement for Chris Bosh to Miami. The deal has now grown to include Houston and Charlotte, primarily from the Raps end so that they don't have to take on a player. The deal they're pursuing would get back their first round draft pick they traded to Miami, along with a massive trade exception for 2011, and a player from Houston, ideally.
This move signals that the Raptors are not pursuing a strategy of trying to make the current roster contend, but instead abandoning ship on the team as it was built. A full rebuild is underway. It's a perilous approach considering how much money the Raptors sank into contract last year in order to keep Bosh around, without any real indication he would be staying in Toronto. Bryan Colangelo will essentially be moving to undo all the decisions he's made, and that's the kind of process that's painful and often costs GMs their job.
Getting the pick back and taking the trade exception is a great start, though, and not having to absorb the risk of Michael Beasley is a huge upshot. The team may be back in the lottery again next year, and they'll want a shot at franchise savior Harrison Barnes. Not taking on any more contracts will make it easier for them to try and shave salary from trades, and this should be viewed as an open invitation that the Raps are open for business.
Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu are the two biggest albatrosses, and while there are elements of each's games that could attract teams, the contracts Colangelo gave them in a failed attempt at a contender will likely make them near immovable. They may be forced to take on deals like the ones New York had to endure the last two seasons in order to unload them.
Someone had to lose out this summer, many teams did. Unfortunately it looks like Toronto may be in for the roughest turn.