Breaking Down Team USA

Reed —  August 8, 2008

Due to particularly oppressive slave-driving from The Man, I was not able to watch any of the Team USA exhibition games. However, my good friend Kyle (my arch nemesis during hundreds of heated and poorly played pickup games during law school), has been breaking down the games and roster in a series of long emails that warm the soul during oppressive work weeks. Since his thoughts were so insightful, and with Kurt out of town, I asked Kyle to fine tune those emails into the following Team USA breakdown. — Reed

On Sunday night, the USA Basketball team officially begins its latest pursuit for Olympic gold and for recognition as the greatest basketball country in the world. In preparation of this, I have put together a breakdown of each player’s performance over the last few weeks during the exhibition schedule. While I tend to be a stat guy by nature, for this analysis I primarily used my observations of the games. I am not going to recap any of the games (plenty of other sites have done that), just the overall performance of each player. Unless noteworthy, I will not discuss their performances in any specific game, just my overall impressions. For those of you who have watched the games, your impressions may differ from mine so feel free to chime in. For those of you who didn’t see the games, don’t blast the analysis based on your NBA experience. As has been well documented on this site and others, the international game is vastly different from the NBA game and NBA skills do not necessarily translate into international skills or vice versa (see Carlos Arroyo). Away we go:

J. Kidd: The decline is significant, noticeable and not at all troubling (unless you’re a Dallas fan). Kidd will play the first 4-6 minutes of each half and then will likely sit out the rest of the time. He took two shots in five games, which is about right. He still runs an effective break but his ability (or lack there of) during half court sets hamstrings the offense. I am glad he is on the team for leadership and experience but even more glad he doesn’t get the bulk of the playing time.

K. Bryant: Pardon the blaspheme but so far, Kobe has not looked very good. He is gambling far too much on defense and when the other team scores in a half court set, it is usually Kobe’s guy that does the scoring. That can’t happen as Kobe is supposed to be our defensive stopper (our Doberman if you will). He needs to stop going for the home run on defense and stay put with his guy and stay more aware of back screens and back cuts, both of which have been used effectively against him. It is as if he is so juiced to lock his guy down, that he has forgotten all of the basic defensive principals that have made him one of the better defenders in the league over the last decade. Offensively, Kobe has looked out of sorts. He keeps taking long 3′s, which doesn’t make sense. If they are going to give you thee points for shooting a mid range jumper (the international three line is just behind the collegiate three line), take the mid range jumper. With all of the above said, Kobe has not yet had to guard any good players and when he finally does, I think he will shine. I would like to see USA use him more like Redd on offense. Set some off the ball screens for him and get him open 3′s, like they consistently do for Redd. He is just as good of a shooter when open, but since he doesn’t move on offense (not at all, not even a little), he ends up getting the ball four feet behind the 3 line and chucking up some terrible looking shot.

L. James: His strength is unbelievable compared to the international players. I think he is playing exceptionally well and will likely be the MVP of the Olympics (not sure if they have that award, but if they do, he will get it). On defense, he is playing consistently and doing a good job of getting into the passing lanes. He is rarely burned by his own guy and when he is involved in the pick and roll defense, USA is in good shape. His height and speed allow him to trap the ball handler and effectively prevent the pass to the screener. I think this has impressed me the most. On offense, he has played within the system for the most part and is I think our 3rd most effective offensive player (I will discuss the other two below). He attacks the rim, like he should, but he is also getting into the paint and creating little six foot jumpers that are essentially gimmes. He is also shooting well from the outside which makes him practically unguardable. He took over the Australia game down the stretch, which is the reason we won.

C. Anthony: Offensively, I have no complaints. He is a bit of a chucker but he has been tagged as the team’s first offensive option so I am ok with that and in some ways like it. For purposes of offensive rebounding (Howard), it is nice to know where a lot of the shots are going to come from. He settles some for his jump shot but it is consistent enough that I don’t mind too much. The only exception to this was the Australia game where he ended up going 4-13. It is imperative that Coach K keeps tabs on Anthony if we are going to win gold. When Anthony is on, he is perfect for international basketball because of his size, strength and quickness off the dribble (relative to the speed of his opponent, who is usually the 4). When Anthony is off (see Australia game), he is a gigantic liability as he is our worst defender (by a fair margin) and not committed to rebounding. As I said, on defense, Anthony is just terrible. Doesn’t move his feet and lets his guy get too many offensive rebounds. As he is the 4, it is critical that he spends a lot of energy on the defensive end fighting for position and keeping the other big off the glass. Anthony has not really shown a willingness to do that yet and it has hurt the team some. I think the good teams are going to use Anthony in the pick and roll and USA will have to rotate out of position to make up for his poor defense which will eventually leave some outside shooter open. This is what scares me the most right now.

D. Howard: Fouls way too much and lets the physicality of international basketball get to him. This is a major issue and makes me even more furious that Chandler didn’t make the team. What is Howard doing that Chandler can’t do? You cannot run the offense through Howard because there is too much zone defense in international play and because the trapezoid lane makes it difficult to get good post position. Howard is there to rebound (on both ends), block shots (doing that very well) and be available for the around-the-rim pass. All things that Chandler does just as well as Howard. The reason Howard is always in foul trouble is that in international ball, the refs (A) suck, (B) suck, (C) suck and (D) like to call petty fouls against the interior defensive players, even though the bigs may have been elbowing each other for 20 seconds before the offensive player got the ball. In terms of what Howard is doing, I love it and think he is great. A bigger concern right now for Howard is that he appears to be in Coach K’s dog house. Coach K doesn’t like how Howard has gotten chippy with the other players and Howard’s tendency to gloat after good plays (he did this a lot during the five exhibition games, more than any of the other players, which was frankly shocking to me as I thought Howard was the nice, humble Christian). This bugs me too as the days of US dominance are over. Lets hold off on the showboating and rim hanging until we actually win an international tournament that matters. Hasn’t happened in six years.

D. Wade: Remember when Wade was in the discussion for best player in the league with Lebron and Kobe? Me either. But I do remember when he was a lock for an All-Star spot. That Wade happens to be back, wearing red, white and blue and playing the best basketball on Team USA. His windmill ally-oop dunk the other night was jaw-dropping (I actually let out an And-1 Mix Tape Tour like ‘holla, and as a white, middle aged guy, that is something). He is playing angry right now and it is positively scary. He is attacking the rim and breaking ankles left and right. The best is that somewhere along the lines, he picked up the Ginobili side-step that looks like a travel but isn’t. To complete his comeback and to once again cement his spot in the All-Star game starting line-up, he has been consistently hitting his outside jumper. On defense, he’s omnipresent and getting his hands on every loose ball. I am not sure of the stats but it feels like he is getting a lot of rebounds for his position. Just a force of nature and has answered all the questions about his come back. I love him coming off the bench by the way (though I would have him in my starting line-up). He is Ginobili 2.0 (two Ginobili references in one paragraph, nice), All-Star quality that comes in after a few minutes when the other team is getting a little winded and just creates havoc.

C. Paul: Disappointment so far, though he had an improved game against Australia. Some flashes of brilliance when he takes the ball into the paint but way too many turnovers and terrible defense. His outside shooting has improved, which is nice, but he keeps trying to make street ball plays which is nonsensical (please accept the fact that we cannot run most of the teams in the Olympics off the court). I think he has been tagged as the Kidd back-up, which is fine, but he has still not found his international groove yet. Maybe he is just too small for the very physical nature of FIBA, I don’t know. What I do know is that he needs to settle down and play more conservatively or he is going to cost us a lot of points. As I mentioned above, in the Australia game, Paul looked much better. When he got by his guy and the Aussies didn’t rotate to him quickly enough, he used his little teardrop to effectively score. That is the Paul that is dominating in the NBA. Too fast to keep in front of you and smart enough to immediately decide if he should shoot or pass. I think he was trying to be too much like J. Kidd in the first few games. In the last game he played like Chris Paul and we need Chris Paul.

D. Williams. Second best player so far. He is the perfect FIBA PG and a pretty darn good SG. He is a bulldog guarding the ball and plays the passing lanes as well or better than anyone on the team. I think the coaches thought Redd would be the zone buster but turns out Deron gives you everything Redd does plus a ton extra. He runs the break almost as well as Kidd and certainly better than Paul (Paul is trying too many dumb passes). He is hitting his outside shot consistently and every ball that leaves his hands looks like it is going in. He rebounds well, both high (jumping for boards) and low (running in and grabbing the lose boards). As mentioned, he is defending superbly. Finally, his penetration is the best on the team at this point and he can finish around the rim with power and/or finesse. He was also involved in my favorite play so far. During the Russia game, the Russians ran a pick and roll against Williams, who ended up switching onto Russia’s giant center. The center then tried to get position on Williams in the paint. The center might as well have been trying to move a house. Williams didn’t budge and I’m pretty sure the center got an elbow in his kidney for his efforts.

M. Redd: Giving us exactly what we expected, if not a little more. I like his energy on the offensive end (running around screens and trying to get to the open spot) and his determination on the defensive end. He is a great addition to the team.

C. Bosh: Nancy, first class nancy. Doesn’t rebound well against big men, doesn’t finish around the rim (no jumping ability and small hands) and isn’t hitting his outside shot. I’m not sure how many times he is going to drop a perfect pass before Coach K goes with Boozer over Bosh. I hate Bosh and hate him even more because Chandler should be on the team, not him. To boot, he sucks on defense and makes terrible decisions on the pick and roll (consistently gets screened and then guards no one as his guy rolls to the basket forcing the other players to rotate, leaving someone open). The only positive thing I have to say about Bosh is that he hits his free throws, unlike the rest of the team. I’m telling you right now, if Bosh gets major minutes once the elimination games start, we will lose.

C. Boozer: I think he has played well. He is the second best rebounder behind Howard and does a good job defending the rim as the center, even if he is undersized. He finishes weakly around the rim but his weak finishes tend to go in (a la Malone). As I discuss more below, the best thing about Boozer is the way he plays with Williams.

T. Prince: Fine. He should be the 12th man. He is too skinny to be a great defender in FIBA. Still, he rebounds well, gets his long arms in the passing lanes and hits the occasional open shot. I like him but his game doesn’t translate too well in international basketball. I don’t see him getting many minutes at all. Sure would have been nice to use this spot for either another big (hello Chandler) or a player committed to playing in 2012 (hello Durant).

Now for a few general impressions on the overall team, though most of it you can glean from my thoughts above.

Offense: What I expected. Constantly pushing the ball to create easy offense and when forced, going into isolation or pick and roll basketball. If forced into a half court game, Wade and Williams, or at least one of them, need to be in the game. They give us our best chance of breaking down the defense and then hitting the open players around the rim or at the 3 line. I’m a little disappointed that we still don’t have any plays at all. Maybe they are being saved for the actual competition, lets hope that is the case. The only time our players seem to have a purpose on the offensive end (at least in half court sets) is when Redd is in the game. Then we run a Pistons type offense keyed at screening players to get Redd open shots. I like this offense but feel we should also run it for Kobe, Anthony and Williams, all of whom can hit the open outside shot. I would also like to see more pick and roll rather than throwing the ball to Anthony and Lebron at the elbow which is our go to play. I hate when we try the Shaq offense with Howard (throw the ball into the paint and hope he scores or they double him). Howard is not skilled enough yet and the bumping and grabbing allows by the refs almost always leads to unnecessary turnovers. Howard should only get the ball when he is in a position to finish, not when he will be forced to create.

Defense: I have mixed emotions about our defense. On the one hand, we are playing aggressive and seem totally committed on the defensive end. On the other hand, we are being too aggressive and getting exploited because of it. The best part of our defense has been our commitment to trapping the pick and roll and our efforts at pressuring the ball up the court. This forces teams out of their sets which is key, as well run offenses can still beat USA. What has hurt us the most on defense is that the players are so keyed on ball denial and high pressure on-the-ball defense, that they expose themselves to back cuts and back screens, both of which have been used effectively against Team USA. Kobe is especially guilty of this. While a high pressured defense creates turnovers and thus avoids us having to run offensive sets, it also leaves us vulnerable to the Princeton style offenses that are so prevalent in international play. What is most frustrating is that many of the players on the team are great team defenders (Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Williams, Paul, Howard) but for some reason, when they landed in China, they checked their defensive IQ’s at customs. Obviously we are more athletic than our opponents, but when a team has good guards and solid passing big men (hello Spain and Argentina), a high pressured defense often results in open baskets for the other team. Sorry to rant, this is really bothering me. We need to control our emotions on the defensive end and play a more team oriented style of basketball. Finally, our defensive rebounding is not perfect but what did we expect? We don’t have a four other than Anthony, who is Tin Man like in his heartlessness. I think the guards are doing an adequate job of trying to help out and Howard is really flexing his muscles when he can stay in the game.

Best Line-Up: This is obviously debatable, but I think our best line-up is Williams, Wade, Kobe, Lebron and Howard. Williams has been the best PG so far and with him and Kobe on the court together, Wade’s and Lebron’s penetration should lead to a lot of made 3’s. I would play a lot of pick and roll with Williams and Wade (using Howard as the screener). I would also try to run Kobe off of some screens and get him open looks. When the offense breaks down, we would have the 3 best playmakers on the court (sorry, Kobe isn’t one of them at this point). On the defensive end, we lack size but only just. Lebron is huge compared to most international players so he can play the 4 just fine. Kobe is certainly tall enough to play the 3 with ease. Williams is a big PG and can guard either guard position. In terms of subs, I think Paul goes in for Williams. No Kidd at all, he gets to play the first few minutes but then must cheer from the bench. As for Wade, when he comes out, I would either put in Redd or move Williams over to the 2 spot. Kobe’s primary back-up should be Lebron (i.e., Lebron or Kobe should be on the court at all times, same with Williams or Wade). For Lebron, bring in Anthony or Boozer. If Williams is in the game, I would make a special effort to use Boozer rather than Anthony. Though they didn’t play together often during the five exhibition games, when they did, the chemistry was palpable (shocking right, teammates for 82 games a year play better together than guys who play 10 games together each summer). Howard can be spelled by Boozer or Bosh. Prince and Kidd should stay off the court as much as possible, unless it is a blow-out.

Conclusion: I have serious, serious concerns about our team. We still don’t have an offense and on defense, we are too arrogant in thinking our athleticism will overpower our opponents. I am hoping beyond hope that Coach K has some offensive sets up his sleeve. I’m also hoping that we can figure out how to tone down our defense when needed. If my hopes are in vain, I think we lose in the elimination round, probably in the semifinals. If you have watched international basketball over the last five years, you know very well that America has the best players in the world, hands down, but that we are not the best team, probably not even top three. Can great players beat great teams? Didn’t happen in LA vs. Boston and I don’t think it will happen in the Olympics. Am I totally hopeless? Absolutely not. I trust Kobe and I trust Coach K. I think there is more there than they have let on, or at least that is what I’m going to be telling myself until August 24th (the gold medal game).

–Kyle

Reed

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52 responses to Breaking Down Team USA

  1. Am I totally hopeless? Absolutely not. I trust Kobe

    I believe in this as well :D

  2. i’m skeptical about the whole “trick up their sleeves” theory. I just don’t think you’d really hide something like that because you need time to make sure it works and to figure out how to make it worst best. There is a lot to be desired in terms of being dominant. I feel like this is very similar to the last few competitions… “Hopefully our athleticism will carry us through.” and it hasn’t. Why is this year any different?

  3. I haven’t watched any of the exhibition games. I only saw the highlights on ESPN.

    I have a question. Will Team USA be able to play competitively or dominate if the opposition is able to prevent Team USA from pushing the fast break after misses?

    My belief is that if the opposition is able to keep Team USA in a half-court offense, then Team USA will be vulnerable.

    Also, I agree with Kyle that it is disturbing that we don’t have any real offensive plays. I thought having Coach K was suppose to bring some organization to Team USA. The idea that all we’re going to do are pick and rolls and dumping down low is not a good strategy. At least run some Motion style offense or something similar.

  4. I too am a bit unsure as to team USA winning the gold medal. Perhaps strategic lineup changes could help, as opposed to the constant starting lineup of Kidd, Kobe, Lebron, Carmelo, and Howard.

    For instance, in the opening game against China, I would go even smaller and play Boozer at center with Deron Williams at the point. Remember the 2007 1st round series of Utah vs. Houston, which Utah won in 7 games? While Yao Ming played well, Boozer was dominant! Because Utah center Okur played outside so much, Houston put Yao on Boozer and he used his quickness advantage to win the matchup with Yao. Defensively, I would double Yao everytime he touched the ball; forcing the rest of the Chinese team to beat us.

    When they play Spain, perhaps going big would be the proper strategy–playing Howard and Bosh together in the starting lineup.

    I remember the 1992 Dream Team. They had two starting lineups and alternated them each half and game.

    Because this team has so little time to really get to know each other (Worthy once said it took him almost 2 years to learn to play with Magic). Perhaps each substitutions should be wholesale; five players at a time, who are used to playing with one another in practice.

    All in all, this team is certainly better than the 2004 team which was under the ball hogging spell of Iverson and Marbury!

  5. Everyone seems to be missing the point that coach K. is not known as an in-game coach, but a motivator and developer. This does not argue well for our success in the Olympics. We are a team that has to overcome our real weaknesses as a team, not as individuals.

  6. Everyone seems to be missing the point that coach K. is not known as an in-game coach

    Hmm.. won’t his appointed assistant coaches help fill him in on that as well though? Some of those “assistant” coaches are NBA head coaches anyway.

  7. can we get a sun yue signing review? and what’s this about coby karl not being picked up for next season….and great post on the U.S. team

  8. Since Sun Yue has signed with the Lakers, that almost guarantees that he will get playing time ahead of Coby Karl and Joe Crawford. I doubt Sun or his “team” would allow him to sign with an NBA team only to sit on the bench.

    I think the Lakers have the roster space to have Sun, Coby Karl and Joe Crawford. From what I read at L.A. Times, it looks like if the Lakers had to choose between Karl and Crawford, it would probably be Crawford.

  9. At least if you are going to critisize Bosh please provide good rational analysis. At only 23 years old Bosh has been one of the most effecient players in the NBA. For the past 3 years he has been top 10 in points and rebounds while maintaining a percentage close or over 50%. Where did you get the small hands and poor leaping ability? Bosh has been known as an electrifying player for a big man and one of the most mobile big-men who has one of the best inside-outside game in the NBA. The only reason why Bosh may not seem suited at times in the FIBA game is because USA do not provide any set players for him. The big-men on the team do not get many touches and are forced to create everything on their own.

  10. Kyle,

    Nice job.

    Fact is … There is nothing more hidden in the bag with this version of Team USA than what you’ve seen to this point. Nothing.

    Trusting Coach K … is not something you SHOULD be doing. It will NOT pay you dividends and will only produce a much closer score than need be when the USA runs up against a quality international team like Spain, Argentina, Greece or Russia.

    In contrast, trusting in Kobe Bryant is what will eventually produce the Gold Medal for this team.

    Doesn’t matter how he plays for the vast majority of the minutes he’ll be getting in the games that count the most. When the Chips are down … on the POSSESSION that decides the outcome, with Lebron and D-Wade, plus one of D-Williams/CP3/J-Kidd on the floor … KOBE BRYANT will initiate the ‘defensive action’ which WINS THE GAME FOR THE USA.

    It might well be UGLY … principally because Jerry Colangelo DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE’S DOING, when it comes to putting together THE BEST American Team possible … but, despite THE TRUTH of everything you wrote in your Scouting Report, Kobe is just TOO TALENTED to lose THAT GAME … with so many other physically talented and skilled players on the court with him at the same time.

    That said, in the words of that noted international basketball analyst, Mark Jackson,

    “Team USA, you’re better than that!”

    What a disappointment, once again … from the people who put this gong show together.

  11. Sounds like an accurate assessment to me….perfectly called.
    Love the Bosh comments…and I’m a Raptor fan (!)….First time I’ve seen someone call it like I see it.

  12. You have no friggin clue on how international ball is being played. USA needs Bosh, because he’s the only big who will extend his defence against bigs who shot threes. How can you judge Bosh’s preformance when the games haven’t even started.
    When USA plays Spain, you’re going to see how important Bosh is.

  13. Vince, nice attitude dude, we like to be civil around here, mate.

    does anyone know the start time of the first televised game for team USA b’ball? I think i see that it’s on Sunday, but I haven’t been able to see what time on Sunday, the electronic guide only says “Olympic coverage” and, there are like 3 NBC channels going 24/7, NBC HD, MSNBC, and another NBC news channel…

    please help us TV guide challenged folks.
    thanks

  14. hey, I answered my own question, this is a good link for the scedule every day, covers all the channels, (even telemundo) and all the sports, 24/7

    http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/schedule/television;_ylt=AuWpcVRiPgnFp0y1kqLwXjcTv5V4

  15. check this link, I thought I just posted it but don’t see it maybe I did something wrong-
    http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/beijing/schedule/television;_ylt=AuWpcVRiPgnFp0y1kqLwXjcTv5V4

    great source for a 24/7 schedule

  16. It is nice for all of us to tout individual talents, but the the games will hinge on strategy and team coordination, not individual talent. If it were just talent that won the FIBA games then the USA wouldn’t be sweating anything. Bosh, Kobe, or D. Will; it isn’t the people on the court, but how they are playing together. If our defense relies on Kobe shutting down one player, with everyone else switching around, we are going to leave shooters open and we will pay for this. If we insist on going 1-on-1 on offense we will also be sorely disappointed. We may win, but we sure will have a much higher stress quotient and the really good teams will require Kobe or Lebron to close out successfully repeatedly – not a good situation.

  17. kyle,

    LeBron was terrible against australia, i can count at least 5 possesions where he was lost on defense, getting back doored or cut on for lay ups. he is hurting Team USA defensively. i don’t know what you’re seeing.

  18. Coach K said himself Bosh is the second best defender so far on Team USA. Bosh is shutting down everyone. AK scored 16 points on Howard, and only 2 points on Bosh. Also, why say he can’t rebound? He averages only .5 less rebounds per 100 possessions when Amare stoudamire, and was 23-10 the season before last.

    What else do you want Bosh to do? he is the second best offensive PF in the NBA, and they have him playing defense at the 5. That makes no sense.

    Add on to that the fact he was 100 percent shooting 3 of the 5 warmup games. One of the two games he wasn’t 100 percent shooting on, he was passed the ball ONCE, and he got fouled and made his free throws.

    Bosh has been one of the most effecient players on TEAM USA. The game before Russia, he scored 9 points in what, 10 minutes or so? When guys like CP3, and Howard scored 9 or less in 20.

    I don’t know why you are hating on Bosh. Bosh should be starting at PF over Carmelo. Carmelo has been an absolute disgrace in the warm up games. Taking stupid shots, missing tons of shots, being slow, and getting CRUSHED by the opposing PF’s.

    Open your eyes and learn basketball.

  19. Well I can’t edit so I wanted to add in one last thing about Bosh, since you clearly have never watched him play.

    Saying he can’t jump and has small hands is like saying Micheal Jordan didn’t know how to shoot the fade-a-way. It’s a flat out lie.

    Bosh’s go to move is a fall away from the basket dunk. Thats the move he always uses. It’s the move he uses against players like KG, when nothing else is working. Bosh for his height, jumps extremely high. He dunks all day long and has dunked on everyone you can name. Did you not watch the TEAM USA game where he took the dish from Melo and jumped from about a foot in front of the free throw line like it’s was a joke?

    Bosh can also palm the ball. So talking about small hands is also out of the question.

    I am quite positive, you rarely if ever watch Bosh play the game of basketball.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MYntCuKOD0&feature=related

    ^Bosh and his no jumping ability and small hands before he was even what he is today.

  20. First, thanks for the comments. Reed and I, along with a few of our other friends, share these types of emails all the time. It is interesting to see what other people think. Below are some responses to the above comments.

    wondahbap: I’ll concede that in the Australia game, Lebron played his worst defense of the exhibition schedule. I cut him slack in my analysis because (A) he looked good the first four games, (B) his offense certainly made up for his poor defensive play in that game and (C) the entire team was out of sorts on the defensive end. But you are right, he made some terrible decisions that if made against the better teams will cost us valuable points and potentially wins.

    Danny: Like I said at the beginning of the post, I did not rely on hardly any stats in putting these emails together. I relied on my own impressions of the games and specifically the players. I thought Bosh played terrible. I probably overstated my hatred for him (not really him, just his game) but as Reed can attest, that is sort of my nature. In the NBA, I think Bosh is a fine player. In the international game, or better said, in the four exhibition games I saw him play over the last few weeks, he has been the worst player on the USA team not named Kidd, for the reasons I noted in my email (drops too many passes, doesn’t finish well, and plays terrible pick and roll defense). As for Vince’s comment, I absolutely understand how the international game is played. Does Bosh have the skill set to get out and guard the international bigs on the perimeter? Sure. Will he? Not based on what I saw in the exhibition games. Will that change when the meaningful games start? Not sure why it would. Why I am wistfully hoping that Team USA has been sandbagging the other teams (i.e., we have an offense), there is zero chance that individual players have been holding back. What Bosh has shown is what Bosh is. Look, I love USA basketball and if we win the gold, it will make my year. I want Bosh to play well as he is our back-up big. I want him to realize that cheating off of most international bigs is essentially giving the other team 3 points. I want him to actually make decisions when he is involved in the pick and roll (rather than getting screened and then doing nothing). I want all of this. I just have little hope that I will see any of it.

    D: The jumping ability and small hand comments were not based on any of his performances in the NBA (or the actual size of his hands or vertical jump). Like I said, I think he is a fine player in the NBA and his ever expanding range is remarkably impressive, I wish Howard would take note. Those comments were based on what he did in the international games. He fumbled pass after pass (small hands?) and finished weakly time after time (jumping ability?). He did have a couple of impressive plays but so what? I don’t care about monster dunks over no one. I want strong finishes in the paint with international guards hanging all over him. Again, my emails (and the resulting blog post) were based on what I saw in the five exhibition games, not on what I have seen watching these guys play in the NBA. As for what Coach K said, that was clearly aimed at Howard and had little to do with what Bosh had done or not done. Plus, I got an amen from a Raptor fan so I feel vindicated.

  21. 13. http://www.insidehoops.com/olympics.shtml

    USA vs. China, Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 7:15am PT
    USA vs. Angola, Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 5:00am PT
    USA vs. Greece, Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 5:00am PT
    USA vs. Spain, Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 7:15am PT
    USA vs. Germany, Monday, August 18, 2008 at 5:00am PT

  22. Overall I think that you make a pretty good assessment of Team USA. A little pessimistic about their gold medal chances, but I think you made some good points about not really having an offense or utilizing an effective zone defense.

    D, are you a Chris Bosh fan? I don’t think comparing his rebounding to Amare Stoudemire is a good way to support Bosh, since most consider Stoudemire’s rebounding is not very good for his size and athleticism. Although I do agree that this hatred towards Bosh is unwarranted, except for the fact that Kyle is in love with Chandler, who has just no offensive skills at all, but is a better rebounder and shot blocker. Bosh is a great player.

    I think there is a little too much Carmelo bashing as well, since he has been automatic on offense. His three point shots appear effortless and despite the lack of confidence in his rebounding he is a key reason that USA has been able to build leads in just about every exhibition so far.

    I agree that Kobe has taken some ill advised long threes, but to him he feels like it is just shooting a wide open NBA three, as the defenders don’t seem to guard beyond the line much. He plays by feel and if he were making them, no one would question them. I do believe that you have undervalued his play making thus far. I have seen many plays in each game (I missed AUS and LITH, but saw the rest) where Kobe would drive and kick to the open shooters in the corners or cutters when the help defender tried to stop Kobe in the paint. Also despite his inconsistent offense so far, when the Russians half court defense stifled USA in the third quarter (as the better teams will be able to do more often) Kobe was Kobe and took over with about 15 points to keep them ahead.

    I like there chances for Gold, but I think there will be some hard fought close exciting games (probably against the temporary enemy Pau!) that I look forward to watching.

  23. Before the real games start I wanted to point out all my misgivings about Team USA in a place where I highly respect other opinions. While I expect the team to win Gold-and wil be rooting for them to do so-I don’t believe it’s inevitable.
    In no particular order:

    The Selection and Makeup of the Team. Given a choice between an All-Star or a balanced team,the people involved in selecting the team invariably went for an All-Star offensive player. There is no basketball reason why Boozer made the team and Chandler did not. W/Battier out due to injury,the team should have looked for another defensive stopper who could also shoot 3s instead of Wade. If the team did decide Wade was going to make the roster one of the 3 PGs should have been left off for a perimeter defender.
    The Beijing Roster should have looked something like this-
    Deron,Kobe,Posey/Bowen/Artest,Carmelo,Howard start.
    CP3,Redd,LeBron,Bosh/West,Chandler and Wade and Aldridge/Rashard Lewis as reserves.(Yes,Artest should have been considered-it is Team Redemption after all.)
    This would have led to Kobe being the offensive focus w/the first unit and LeBron the focus of the second.(The second unit would see minutes against other team’s reserves so wouldn’t need to be as strong defensively.) Jason Kidd could have been brought over as an Assistant copach and could have been available for practices where he could still teach the young PGs.

    Coach K. Once I heard he was going to be the head coach I knew the Team’s inside men could bring a lawn chair because they weren’t going to be involved on offense. College coaches have no clue when it comes to using bigs inside.(BTW,we constantly hear that International basketball renders inside bigs useless,yet the same experts proclaim if Howard goes out w/fouls the other team’s bigs will dominate inside.)
    Coach K is running extremely simplistic offenses and defenses. The excuse given is lack of time w/the team. Then what was all the BS about the 3 yr committment? Why didn’t the US Team get together at the past 3 All-Star breaks and do a review and few walk-thrus?(For that matter why not change the All-Star format to the USA Team vs NBA All-Stars? Extend the break an extra day to allow a day extra for practice and see how competitive the game will be.)
    Do not forget K’s lead assistant is Mike D’Antoni of shots “7 seconds or less” fame. The US has been accused of taking the first open look,not the best open look. Perhaps it’s not the players so much as coaching?

    LeBron James. Way too much this looks like Nike,the NBA,Team USA,et al are trying to use the Olympics to annoint LeBron the Greatest Player in the World. Unfortunately the rest of the world isn’t going along. Kobe is seen by his peers and the fans as the best player. When it’s tight down the stretch who’s going to get the ball-Kobe or LeBron? Is LeBron mature enough to handle the team passing him up to go to Kobe down the stretch? How would Kobe handle LeBron getting the ball repeatedly and not delivering?

    The Salary Cap. Because of the cap there are few teams that can afford top players throughout their lineup. Coop couldn’t crack the starting line-up on the Showtime Lakers. If he was playing today it’s hard to identify a team he wouldn’t start for.
    For too many of today’s top players,they are playing on teams w/out quality depth and as a result don’t know how to play as part of a team. They are so used to having their team built around them that they don’t know how to play as just a player on a team. Which is why Team USA struggles so much on team defense and team offense. And it’s why I say this team lacks a killer instinct. They don’t know how to put away another team. Not because they don’tt want to,but because they don’t know how a team collectively imposes its will to the point it destroys the other teams’ will to compete.
    Perhaps it’s no suprise Deron Williams has been a better PG than Paul-his coach is notorious for running a team system and he came in to a team w/stars in AK-47,Boozer. Kobe accepted the challenge of being the defender because he knew it had to be done and had the example of Rick Fox doing the dirty work so the team could be successfu.

  24. I agree completely with Stephen…too many alpha males on this team. Do you build a football team with 4 Quarterbacks, 4 Wide Receivers and 3 Running Backs? It would have been nice to get a few more players who aren’t the focal point of their teams…regardless, I still don’t see this team losing

    Anyways, can anyone tell me how to watch a live basketball game from the olympics? I brewed a pot of coffee to watch Spain v Greece, Lithuania v Argentina and take a nap before US vs China (can you tell I’m having basketball withdrawals?) but NBC’s website navigation is atrocious

  25. Spain and Greece are playing right now, and it only took one half of basketball to convince me that Marc Gasol is definitely not his brother. He’s bigger, and a better rebounder and defender, but he definitely doesn’t have his brother’s soft hands or soft touch from mid-range, and he definitely lacks his speed when he runs the court.

  26. A bit pessismistic, but really, are we setting the bar a little too high for a team that has as little time cohise as compared to an NBC team to be playing with the fluidity on offense and defense that we expect from the NBA elite?

    Does it bother anyone else that NBC is tape delaying for us West Coast viewers?

    Bothers me. http://myinnerfan.blogspot.com/2008/08/nbc-shows-its-run-by-idiots-tape-delay.html

  27. There’s a live video feed of the USA vs. China game on the nbcolympics.com website. Strangely, there are no announcers which is sort of nice but strange at the same time.

  28. I’ve always hated the coverage for Olympics. There’s barely any info on when the games are being played and what channel. Even during FIBA competition. You can’t find that stuff on ESPN either. It’s a bit frustration.

    They are playing the game live though on a USABasketball channel for my TW Digital Cable. Mike Breen and Doug Collins are calling the game. I had to find the schedule on TV guide’s website.

  29. For those in San Diego have an HD receiver, it’s channel 733 by the way.

  30. I woke up early to catch the 7:15 game, but I think it’s at 10:15, so what a drag to drag myself outta bed on sunday at 7, only to find it’s 10…
    they need to do a betetr job of letting viewers know what’s on and when.

  31. Bosh has arguably been the catalyst for the US team’s win over China. Dwight was mediocre. Chris has been their best big so far, even against Yao.

  32. Watching the first game a couple things stick out.

    1) D Wade is awful on D, he goes for the steal way too much and doubles off his man in stupid spots.

    2) Apparently under FIBA rules blatant hip-checks are legal when part of a pick or screen…and to think I thought the NBA non-call of illegal screens was bad.

    3) The US needs to shoot the 3 better, yikes.

  33. How’s that crow tasting?

    9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals today against China. I guess Bosh can’t grab rebounds or play defense eh?

    Lemme guess…this was a fluke game right? Chris Bosh has been the best big man on the States and you know it.

  34. NBC is broadcasting both Soccer and Basketball live over specialty HD channels. If you don’t have High Definition reception don’t bother looking. If you have Dish Satelite B-ball is ch 99 and Soccer is ch 98. The games are listed in EST, so those of us on the west coast have to subtract 3 hrs.

    The nice thing about these broadcasts is there are no commercials – none – just announcers. The half time was just an open mike with the ‘white’ noise of the crowd in the background. I wish Fran Franchilla was broadcasting – I learn so much about international ball and what is actually going on during the game when he announces.

  35. As for other games overnight, Germany looked really good….. against Angola. They shot rather well and if they play a modicum of defense they may be the dark horse candidate in all this. As good as Germany looked, that’s how bad Greece looked to me. They looked rather old and slow and did not shoot rather well. Unless they improve dramatically, I have Germany beating them and thus Greece having to compete with China for the 4th spot.

  36. How did you feel about Bosh’s performance today against China. 9 points on 4/4 shooting with a USA game high of 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

    He was also an integral part in the two runs that the US had. Continually he played very solid defence against Yao.

  37. Danny you forgot to add that he posted those numbers in on;y 13 minutes

  38. is it true that Kaman is on the german team?
    does he even speak german?

  39. wow, i think you kno nothing about bosh’s game

  40. Sounds like your are not a big Bosh fan. Not sure what NBA team you go for but if available would you trade for him :-)

    Of course it’s refreshing to hear someone rip a member of the USA team. I think Bosh really suffers from playing North of the border and once he moves back to a US based team his stock will really rise.

  41. Kyle,

    Do you actually think international referees are as bad as the ones in the NBA? At least in FIBA basketball superstars don’t get favoured… And travelling is actually called as well… (Hello Mr. Wade)

  42. I know you’re all americans, or most of you are, but Bosh is really not very respected around here… He just seems lost when he plays for the USA.

  43. Great analysis, and nice to see some real honesty on how badly Bryant has been playing so far.

    I was completely with you up until the Bosh part. I thought he’s been one of our better big men. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on him.

  44. The Bosh comments are absolutely ludicrous. Clearly, you’ve never seen him play ball. I’m from Toronto and see him a lot. He’s a real talent and clearly you don’t know that because Raptor games barely make it on ESPN or TNT.
    Do a little research before dropping comments from left field on one of the better players in the league.

  45. Bosh was a beast again today.

    Kool-Aid must taste great.

  46. Sorry to harp on the Bosh thing but after his 18pt showing against Greece I couldn’t resist.

    You said:
    “doesn’t finish around the rim (no jumping ability and small hands) and isn’t hitting his outside shot.”

    I believe he’s shooting somewhere around .875 for the tourny. How someone who “doesn’t finish around the rim” or isn’t hitting his outside shot” can average that percentage is a true miracle.

  47. Not a bad game again. I hope Bosh has silenced his critics about him being soft and not able to play defence. 18 points, 7/8 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He just did all the dirty work on the court and against arguably the third best team in the tournament.

  48. First class nancy = 2
    Kyle = 0

  49. This guy is messed.. he first hates on Bosh’s play and when Bosh plays amazing during the tournament.. he doesnt write back apologizing for his mistake and he doesnt re-asses Bosh’s play

  50. To be fair, it was a great bit of analysis. I think he got it dead wrong on Bosh — it’s hard to watch everyone closely and personal biases can creep in — but the rest of it was really good stuff.

  51. KobeIsTheWorstPlayer August 18, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Also, they do have set plays. I’ve noticed the same 3 man low post to high post screen with a guard kickin out to the corner 3 being run multiple times, along with other sets.

  52. This post has drawn a lot of uncivil comments, which have been deleted. This forum will not deteriorate into name calling. You can make your point intelligently and in a respectful tone, or you can go use another board. The posts here are somewhat the start of an ongoing discussion in the comments, one that will keep a certain tone.

    For the record, Reed and I think Kyle have said in comments on other posts here that they underestimated Bosh. A lot of people did. That does not mean you get to come here and flame them.