Team USA’s Intra-squad Scrimmage

Phillip Barnett —  July 25, 2010

Lamar Odom is surrounded by members of the media at a U.S. national basketball team practice in Las Vegas, Nevada July 21, 2010. REUTERS/Laura Rauch (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Last night, ESPN2 aired the Team USA intra-squad scrimmage. As you would expect from an exhibition game featuring guys who haven’t spent a lot of time together on the court, the game was rather sloppy and I don’t expect the scrimmage to weigh too heavily on the decisions made by Coach K and Brian Colangelo. Recapping the game won’t be necessary (the white squad won 114-96), but there were a few guys who stood out and made a case for a spot on the team.

* Before I get into some of the players who impressed, I’ll take the opportunity to share a few thoughts on Lamar Odom. Odom went into camp out of shape and hadn’t participated in any basketball related activities since helping the Lakers bring home number 16, and it showed in the scrimmage. LO finished with just two points, six rebounds and three assists (which you’ll see in Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose highlights later). Odom’s poor showing in the intra-squad scrimmage really doesn’t mean much in terms of him making the squad. From everything that I’ve read, Odom is pretty much a lock to make the team as a veteran presence among a slew of youth. His versatility (he started at center in the scrimmage) and the lack of size on Team USA is coveted by the Colangelo/Coach K brain trust and will definitely make the first set of cuts to be happening on Monday.

THE WHITE TEAM

* As expected, Kevin Durant had the biggest showing of the bunch finishing with 28 points and player of the game honors. Durant began his night with what was arguably the highlight of the night – a nifty crossover that led to a dunk that set the tone for the white squad – and had a four-minute stretch in the third quarter where he scored 10 of his 28. Durant picked his spots nicely, didn’t force anything and was genuinely enjoying himself out there on the floor. He did have seven turnovers, but it was a sloppy game all around. Only Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups played more than 20 minutes and finished with no turnovers. Below are a few highlights from Durant’s night.

* Derrick Rose played along side of Durant and also had a fantastic night finishing with 15 points, eight assists, five steals and no turnovers. Rose played a lot stronger than his counter parts at the point guard spot and definitely made a case for not only making the team, but also for starting as he impressed more than the other point guards. Rose’s quickness isn’t news to anyone, but watching how fast he changes direction and his ability to change speeds is still awe inspiring every time you get an opportunity to watch him play. You’d be hard pressed to find a more athletic point guard in the NBA right now. Below are some highlights of Rose.

* Also for the white team, Andre Iguodala impressed with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. His game was stamped all over the first half with athletic moves to the basket, he hit all three of this 3-point attempts and got to the free throw line six times. Eric Gordon hit four of seven from behind the arc and was 50 percent from the field for the night. I don’t think Gordon has done enough in the past week to earn a spot on the roster, but he did some good things while on the floor in the scrimmage.

THE BLUE TEAM

* Rudy Gay did a lot of the damage for the Blue Team scoring 23 points and going three for four from behind the three point line (both teams shot over 45 percent from behind the arc). No news, Gay is a terrific scorer and was able to get his points in a multitude of different ways: he hit from behind the arc, was able to create shots off the dribble, scored from the block, got the free throw line seven times and was able to grab a few offensive rebounds (4) and convert those to points. Like Durant, Gay finished with seven turnovers but seemed committed to playing defense, finishing with a pair of blocks and steals. Starting Gay and Durant on the wings would make Team USA awfully long, but bringing Gay off the bench to replace Durant would keep a long, athletic scorer on the floor at all times. I don’t think there is anyway Gay doesn’t make this team. I’ve been having problems getting my Rudy Gay clips up, so hopefully I can have them for you guys at a later time.

* Rudy Gay’s Memphis teammate, O.J. Mayo, also had a strong night scoring 18 points while showing off the clean stroke on his jump shot. There was a lot of talent on the floor, and Mayo didn’t let anyone forget that he was on the floor. He was able to get loose on a few fast breaks and excite the Thomas and Mack crowd with some dunks. Mayo has wanted to play point guard since he was a Trojan at USC, but is finding his game translates better as an off guard with his ability to shoot. He hit a few pull up jumpers and knocked down half of his three point attempts. Mayo highlights are shown below.

* Also for the blue team, teammates Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green both did a lot of good things. Westbrook was a hound defensively on the parameter and finished with three steals to go along with his 14 points. Westbrook is one of the most fearless guys in the NBA and attacks the rim relentlessly. Jeff Green finished with 11 points and a very quiet eight rebounds (second only to Tyson Chandler). If you’re going to make this team, grabbing rebounds is a great way to do it considering Team USA’s size issue.

As I mentioned earlier, Coach K and Brian Colangelo will look to make four cuts on Monday and hope to have their roster down to about 15 by the time they play an exhibition game against France in New York at the Madison Square Garden in August 15. From there, the team will travel to Europe to play a few more exhibition games before the FIBA World Championships start on August 28.

Phillip Barnett

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22 responses to Team USA’s Intra-squad Scrimmage

  1. Be scared of Durant, very scared. He may be the MVP next year and for the foreseeable future. Also, Derrick Rose is absolutely devastating and he showed more confidence in his jumper last night.

    That being said, I don’t know how this team will fare against international competition. The dearth of quality (yes Lopez and Love are decent, but not elite) big men scare me a little and as Fran Fuscilla noted, international teams will not crash the offensive boards, meaning, all those nifty fast breaks may not be available against the better squads. I’m glad we have Durant but besides him, who really excels in a half court game where teams will dare the US to beat them with the mid-range and 3 point shots.

    This summer’s competition will prove to be a worthy one, and not one that’s discernibly in the US’s favor.

  2. Had the feel of an All-Star game…with many stars, turnovers, and highlights to boot.

    I would say just by the facts stated above and the LACK if playing time shows that LO is pretty much a lock. I think that is great news for LA as he will stay in shape, may learn some new things, and maybe come back with higher energy from these young kids.

  3. The Bulls are getting scarier by the minute.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/nba/news/story?id=5408617

  4. Leave it to Lamar to get lost in an allstar intersquad scrimmage. Maybe Laker fans will get lucky and Lamar will get cut, get rested, avoid injury, and be ready for a title defense in October.

  5. Derrick Rose showed why the Lakers dodged a bullet when Chicago failed to land Wade & Bosh. That team would have been a much bigger threat to LA than the Heat….

  6. I forget what broadcaster it was, but as he said when analyzing the Memphis forward: “I’m a HUGE Gay guy…”

  7. there’s an article on the euro teams interested in derrick caracter over at the true hoop network site ballineurope.

    http://www.ballineurope.com/european-basketball/euroleague/derrick-caracter-lakers-olympiacos-5882/

  8. Sean Rodrieguez July 26, 2010 at 7:21 am

    “LO finished with just two points, six rebounds and three assists (which you’ll see in Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose highlights later). ”

    Kevin Garnett? Is that an error?

  9. no, Kevin played in summer league in an attempt to improve his jump shot. 8@

  10. Kevin Durant perhaps?!

  11. 8.)

    I’m sure it was supposed to be KD – highlight reel.

  12. 7. (Chibi). That’s what I’ve been saying in previous posts. Caracter must decide between the $500k + limited playing time on the Lakers versus millions (see what Jaaber received) overseas plus additional playing time. The Lakers will hold his rights should he return to the States, but this is a real possibility. As to Ebanks, I believe he will sign on with the Lakers.

    Caracter really played well in the SPL, and has placed himself in a conundrum. If he signs for the minimum, which is all the Lakers can offer at this point, he will be walking away from money for a chance at a ring and to showcase his skill for the Lakers/NBA next year. Can’t say I would disagree with him should he choose to go the money/PT route in Europe.

  13. 12/DY: i’d love for caracter to join the team this year, just because it will be good for him to play for Phil, practice against the best frontcourt in basketball, team with great role models in fisher and kobe, and learn from crafty guys like Gasol and Artest.

    while you can’t really put a price on that, i think it makes leaving the lakers a little bit harder than if he were playing for somebody else. i think if mitch guarantees his first two years, that might compel him to stay. he can always go to europe, i guess.

    anyway, caracter is more of a luxury than a necessity. he’d be useful, i’ll just put it that way. he’d be nice to have in reserve.

    and i agree with you. i can’t blame him for leaving. but i’d have to shitlist olympiakos.

  14. It looks like the Mayo and Rose videos got switched.

  15. Chibi/ DY- Since Caracter is such a promising big guy, I think that he’d only go to Europe if they’re are willing to overpay for him as if he’s a future star. I think if he invests in showcasing his talent in L.A for a couple of seasons, it could translate to a pretty contract very early in his career. It’s not like every rookie that isn’t making Millions their rookie year is bolting for Europe. If they know that they need to prove them selves for a couple of seasons and they’re confiedent they can, then I’m sure these talented draftees will stay.

  16. As injury prone as Bynum/Gasol/Odom were last season I think it behoove Caracter to play for the Lakers.

    He will see plenty of playing time. (10-20 minutes per game assuming he keeps Phil and the staff happy with his play.)

  17. Such is the “curse” of the 2nd rounder who turns out to be a 1st round quality pick. Mind you, as Mitch K put it, Caracter hasn’t done anything against NBA players per se, but he looks to be a 1st round quality guy.

    I too hope he stays with the team, and if it turns out that he’s really good, then that’s a problem that I don’t mind having at this point. Remember, Gilbert Arenas was a 2nd rounder who priced himself out of the Warriors eons ago, if anyone can remember.

  18. Unless Iran or North Korea get crazy, Europe’s not going anywhere. But how often does one get the chance to play for an NBA title? If I were Caracter, I’d tell myself the money in Europe can wait for another year or two. He may never get a better shot at a ring than playing with the Lakers next season.

    If he has any questions on that, maybe he should call a guy like Ronny Turiaf, Chris Mihm or Coby Karl. How bad would it feel to play for a losing Finals team one season, then wind up in a losing situation the next year while your former teammates go on to win back to back titles?

    Of course, it’s his life and his career. We’ve got nothing but outsiders opinions to offer.

  19. You don’t have to go very far to see an example of a 2nd rounder taking advantage of his situation – Wes Matthews. In Utah he was there when the Jazz traded Brewer, stepped in, stepped up and now has a $32M contract with Portland.

    Most 1st rounders would kill for that contract.

  20. I think the worst-case scenario is *both* caracter and ebanks getting considerable offer sheets in 3 yrs.

    given the payroll, we’d be forced to choose 1 and let the other go, like what happened with sasha and ronnie.

    i’m not too worried about that happening, because ebanks has a number of guys ahead of him in the rotation. so, i think he isn’t going to get enough minutes and exposure to make a deep impression on rival GMs.

  21. Oh yeah, never discount the possibility that the Timberwolves’ GM will offer Caracter a 6 year $503 mil contract. KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHNNNNN!

  22. I’m hopeful that Lamar’s leadership role with Team USA helps him become a better, more responsible player for the Lakers also.