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Tag:Stephen Curry
Posted on: August 24, 2010 1:37 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2010 9:14 am
 

NBA Pop Quiz: Is this Don Nelson's last ride?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this brain teaser...

Is this Don Nelson's last ride?


Do you realize Don Nelson's been in the league since 1962? As a coach since 1976? We're not talking, "he's been in and out of the league," either. We're talking at some point every single calendar year, Don Nelson has been on the payroll of a professional basketball team since 1962 (with less than a handful of hiatuses in between). With all the stress, intensity, drag, and confusion of the NBA, no wonder Nelson has adopted an... unorthodox strategy and attitude towards his job. In that time, he's won the most games in NBA coaching history, with teams in Milwaukee, Dallas, and Golden State.

But as the years have gone on and Nellie's teams have not only failed to achieve success, but have failed to adequately develop the athletic young talent they've drafted, the Heat has risen on the now-70-year-old coach of the Warriors. New ownership is in place, and they have brought with them talk that they may want to go in a new, younger direction. Nelson has said he'd like to finish the last year on his contract, but understands if they go in another direction. So the question may not actually be if this is Nelson's last ride, but if he'll be able to get on the horse to begin with.

As the Mercury News reports , the timing of the sale's finalization may leave no viable alternative to keeping Nelson on. However, there's ample precedent to removing the remainder to get a clean slate as soon as possible. Assistant coach Keith Smart could take over the team with the same run-and-gun system and the team can see how it goes. Then, if a change is still desired, the regime transition can be made on the schedule new ownership desires.

So what are the pros and cons of keeping Nellie for one last hurrah?

The benefits are largely built around stability, and the hope for a repeat of 2007. Nelson's success has been marginal, but when the team gets itself together, it can push the ball like no other, and that chaos gives teams fits. Keeping Nelson for his final year means that there won't be any drastic changes to what they know they can get from the players who have excelled under Nelson. A change risks those players taking a step back and struggling to adjust to whatever new wrinkles are implemented. And despite the numerous personal conflicts that have arisen with Nelson, he has become close to the players, including taking a number of them out for a beer last year. Insert joke here. But with as many young players as the Warriors have, that kind of relationship could be dangerous to disrupt, even if in general it's not ideal to begin with.

And that pulls us into the cons. You can talk about wins and losses, but for new ownership, for a team looking to change its direction, wins and losses aren't the first and foremost concern. Instead, they are likely focused on how the team develops. And that's been a dramatically lacking area for Nelson. Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Monta Ellis, the list goes on in regards to players that have found themselves in Nelson's doghouse without any clear path out. While Stephen Curry excelled last season, his natural talent is going to get the bulk of that credit. (Hey, it may not be fair, but it's how it is. Ask Bulls fans who was responsible for Derrick Rose's progression, Vinny Del Negro or Derrick Rose.) Then, when we're past all that, and the win-loss record isn't good. Nelson's system is fun to watch and has its moments, but it also compromises fundamentals of winning basketball like defense. And defense. Mostly, defense.

But most importantly, Lacob and company have made it clear that they intend to turn over a new leaf with this team. That means a new direction and that means a new coach. The clock is ticking for Nelson in Golden State. He's made little to no noise about continuing his long ride after this horse is done with him. This really most likely is the end of the road for Don Nelson's historic career. We'll have to see if he's got any more tricks left in the bag on his way out.

Posted on: August 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2010 5:35 pm
 

USA defeats Spain 86-85 in an exhibition classic

Posted by Royce Young

With about 90 seconds left in Team USA's game against Spain Sunday, I had to stop and remind myself, "Wait, this is an exhibition. It doesn't even count." But it felt like it did. And both teams played as if it did.

In a rematch of the 2008 gold medal game and what might have been a preview of this year's title game in Turkey, Team USA defeated Spain 86-85 in front of a rowdy sold out crowd in Madrid.

The game came down to a final possession as Kevin Durant bothered Ricky Rubio into an airball then won it for the U.S. with a block on Rudy Fernandez as time expired. Derrick Rose came up big for Team USA in crunch time on the other end hitting two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to put the U.S. up one.

Early on, it looked like the Americans would cruise to an easy victory. The States jumped out to a 16-3 lead hitting seven of their first 10 shots while Spain was ice cold, starting just 1-10. But the Spaniards were pesky. Despite the sluggish start, Spain stayed close and used a big third quarter run to cut the U.S. to two, eventually tying the score at 80-80 with about three minutes left in the fourth.

The game against Lithuania was an excellent learning experience for the young group of Americans because Team USA had to overcome some adversity and poor offense to eventually pull away from a gritty group. Today's game against Spain is an equally important test but in a different way. Team USA was pushed and had to figure out what it would do in difficult times. Where does the ball go in crunch time? Who's handling the ball in a close game? Who's defending their playmakers? All these questions finally got a first answer put to them.

Durant finally found his offense, scoring 25 points in his usual effortless manner. He was 9-16 from the floor and in key moments late, the offense centered around him. After Spain took its first lead of the game 82-80 with about two minutes remaining, the U.S. immediately went to Durant who hit a tough baseline runner to knot the score again. It may have been only an exhibition, but these were some defining moments for Team USA, as this young group begins to find some identity and understand roles.

Another potentially interesting thing to mention was Coach K's rotations at the end of the game. Lamar Odom saw time at center over Tyson Chandler who didn't play well. Also, Russell Westbrook subbed in on defense for Chauncey Billups meaning that Westbrook likely will make the final 12-man if anything for at least a defensive stopper.

Both Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo sat today, but the feeling there is that it was for no other reason than to get some rest and give some extended looks to guys competing for that final spot. Kevin Love also didn't play because of a hard fall Saturday against Lithuania, but is fine and will be ready for the next game.

Obviously, with this being a friendly, it's safe to assume both teams held a little something back. Both squads surely expect to each one another again at some point in the tournament and didn't want to show too many cards. But at the same time, both groups wanted to win. Spain's guards were tough for the U.S. to handle and Marc Gasol chewed up Team USA on the inside. On the flip side, the Team USA's athleticism was too much for Spain to keep up with and in big moments the U.S. had proven playmakers while Spain didn't have somewhere to go.

If we really learned anything certain to take away from this exhibition it's that if these two teams meet again, it should be a whole heck of a lot of fun.

Posted on: August 21, 2010 7:41 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Team USA struggles, beats Lithuania 77-61

Posted by Royce Young

It may have just been an exhibition, but Team USA was pushed Saturday against Lithuania for three quarters, before pulling away to a 77-61 in Madrid. The reasons for the closer-than-expected game? Sloppy passing, bad offense and more bad offense.

What kept the U.S. from being blown out in the first 20 minutes was a strong defensive effort that held Lithuania to just 28 first half points. The problem though, was that the Americans only had 29. A lot of the issues could be summed up in a wide open fast break dunk blown by Rudy Gay. The U.S. was careless with the ball, missed open jumpers and didn't finish the easy inside looks.

The guy that is supposed to be reliable on the offensive end continued to struggle a bit. Kevin Durant led the team with 15 points, but missed every outside jumper he took and scored mostly at the rim and from the free throw line. So far in his three international games, Durant is 14-38 from the floor and 0-7 from 3. As someone that's watched Durant play a lot, it looks to me like he's pressing a bit.

In games where Durant wasn't able to just relax and play, he struggled at times last season. Coach K talked about how KD needed to be more unselfish and sometimes with a guy like Durant who plays a certain way without thinking much about it, that can get into his head some. There's obviously nothing to worry about with KD because he's got one of the smoothest strokes in the game and can score 25 in his sleep, but his three games thus far haven't exactly set the world on fire. I have no doubt he'll get it going though because even in games where he doesn't play exceptional, he's always good. Heck, even games he goes 13-17 for 44 points he thinks all night about the four missed shots. So don't fret about KD.

Durant's teammate Russell Westbrook on the other hand, made a strong statement for a roster spot. He was named MVP of the game scoring 12 points while really kicking his team into gear with a ton of high energy off the bench. He had his jumper going as he hit two 3s and was a menace defensively, hawking Lithuania's guards all over the floor. Westbrook is likely a bubble guy, but showed today where he could have value. He's not a strong shooter, but he's a player that is valuable in a number of different areas. He defends, rebounds, penetrates, creates and sometimes when he gets that jumper going, can score at will.

There's no telling which direction Jerry Colangelo and Coach K are leaning on picking between Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon and Westbrook (the three likely competing for the last roster spot) but for the most part, Curry and Gordon do the same things, at least on this roster. Westbrook provides a number of different skills. So a combination of Westbrook plus either Curry or Gordon to go with Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo might make the most sense.

It wasn't a pretty 40 minutes of basketball for the Americans, but Lithuania gave Team USA a good push. That's definitely a good thing because it gives Coach K something to point out in the film room plus is a minor wake up call that you can't just waltz through this tournament. These teams may not have a name on them that you recognize or can pronounce, but they can still play.

Team USA takes on Spain in another exhibition in Madrid Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on NBATV.
Posted on: July 28, 2010 3:47 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2010 3:48 pm
 

Team USA: The Final 15

Posted by Royce Young

The first cuts for Team USA have been made and the 15 players that will be moving on to training camp (August 10-16) in New York are:
A few notes of the roster :
  • We all knew it was going to be guard heavy. But now seeing the 15 that moved on, it's really guard heavy. JaVale McGee picked up a little momentum especially because of the injuries and issues within the roster, but eventually didn't move on. Instead the roster is going with versatility and players that will be able to shuffle through positions. 
  • For instance, Jeff Green made the cut and Coach K as to why: "It's one of the reasons he's still one of the 15 is because of his versatility."
  • Right now, there are four point guards. So common sense says one likely won't be making the final roster. How you narrow down between those four, I don't know.
  • Coach K indicated Billups would be a player that would slide over to the 2-guard slot when other point guards come in. 
  • Team USA's center situation: Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler. That's it. Coach K said, "We are concerned about the size."
  • Colangelo said Lopez was given the benefit of the doubt because of his case of mono. He said Lopez was selected for New York based on the idea that he would regain some form and get healthy. He mentioned that they didn't know Lopez came in ill, but admitted that his size probably helped him make this cut.
  • Coach K said players like Durant and Gay will play a lot of power forward.
  • Colangelo said as of right now, they have a sold eight or nine that will make the roster for Turkey. So that means there are three or four slots open to be battled for in New York.
These next fews weeks will the roster will likely get narrowed down to 12, though Colangelo noted that they might consider taking more than that to Turkey and then cutting from there. Only 12 can actually be eligible to play in Turkey, but Colangelo and Coach K indicated they may use all the time needed.

Posted on: July 28, 2010 11:59 am
Edited on: July 28, 2010 12:00 pm
 

Evans, Wallace and Mayo unlikely to make Team USA

Posted by Royce Young

Cuts are coming for Team USA today and while some are beginning to think Jerry Colangelo may now take 16 players to training camp, it looks like it's about to wrap up for at least three players.

O.J. Mayo, Tyreke Evans and Gerald Wallace are expected to be among the players cut today when Team USA reveals its training camp roster, Chris Tomasson of FanHouse reports . As mentioned, a fourth is likely to be cut, but that's a question being debated by the coaching staff right now.

Eric Gordon was thought to be on the chopping block, but the Indianapolis Star reported Gordon will make the cut. The Star also confirmed Danny Granger will make the team. Warriors World reported guard Golden State guard Stephen Curry has gotten his confirmation call to go to New York.

Depending on what Colangelo wants to do inside, JaVale McGee is the likely candidate to be the fourth cut. But another unlikely player makes more sense, according to Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm :

If there is a fourth cut — and it’s entirely possible that there won’t be, yet — it’s likely to be Rajon Rondo.

The lights of the FIBA World Championships were never going to be all that kind to Rondo, as the imperfections of his game would be in full view in international basketball’s unique hue. Defensively, he falls in line with everything Team USA wants to do, but on offense, it’s unlikely the Americans would be able to overcome having two quasi-liabilities (Rondo and say, Tyson Chandler) on the floor at the same time. Rajon may have forced his way into the top tier of point guards in the NBA, but properly executed zone defenses will smother him. Rondo could find ways to be effective, but if I’m betting on one of the team’s unimpressive shooters (Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook) to succeed in FIBA-style ball, it’s not Rondo.

Which makes sense for all the internal debating going on. Rondo would be a tough cut to make, but as Mahoney points out, a necessary one. This isn't about bringing the best players to Turkey. It's about bringing the best team . And with a stacked backcourt, Rondo's game doesn't figure to translate internationally as well as some others.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com