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D'Antoni

I'm glad to see Mike D'Antoni chosen as an assistant coach for Team USA basketball, but really it seems to me that he ought to be the head coach. For one thing, he's obviously a good coach. More specifically, he's the American with the most experience in coaching international basketball. The lesson everyone seems to have taken away from recent debacles is that the USA needs to start taking this stuff more seriously, and that should probably start with recognizing that the rules are different in international competition and that makes a difference in terms of strategy, what players you want, etc.

On the other hand, I should say that the discredited "Dream Team" model would still be pretty awesome if you could put a bona fide dream team together. Shaq, Duncan, McGrady, Kobe, and Kidd start, I guess, with Garnett, Iverson, and James rounding out your basic eight-man rotation.

November 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Wade over Kidd. Though neither is a great shot, Wade's is better, he is a decent passer, and a game-changer. Wade is also a much much better defender than Kidd. Kidd can't stay in front of anyone anymore, and the U.S. can't afford to have their defense consistently collapsed by someone driving on Kidd and then kicking out to the open man as the defensive help comes over to bail Kidd out.

Posted by: tony | Nov 28, 2005 5:02:28 PM

I thought that in 2004 the good US players would have been shamed into playing for the Olympic squad. And the team was much better, talent wise, than either 2000 or the basketball world cup team from -- 2002? -- which lost three straight games and went home. But winning is the only thing, and the team didn't win everything.

I'm not on the "international 'ball is a different game" bandwagon. The US should just keep going big rather than get better perimiter shooters. Perhaps it should emphasize shooting percentage a bit more, but not a ton more.

Pity Amare Stoudamire will never be the same again. An olympic team in 2008 of Duncan, Wade, Stoudamire, LeBron, and Anthony would have been fearsome.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 28, 2005 5:03:52 PM

Pity Amare Stoudamire will never be the same again.

His doctor sounds pretty optimistic.

Posted by: ogged | Nov 28, 2005 5:32:43 PM

I like the fact that they picked Jim Boeheim. International ball uses the zone much more than the NBA does, and Boeheim is a master of the zone. If any one can teach our guys the principles of zone offense and defense, he can.

And, while I'm hardly neutral on the matter, I'd pick Kidd over Wade. Yeah, Wade is a better player at this point in their careers, but his strengths overlap Iverson/Kobe/TMac's strengths. Ideally you'd want a Stockton-type player as your point guard, but, since Nash is Canadian, the closest the US has is Kidd. And if anyone saw the game against the Lakers last night, you'd know that Kidd can still both (a) make incredible passes, and (b) hit the wide open, stand-still 3 often enough.

Posted by: Al | Nov 28, 2005 5:37:40 PM

Ogged: thanks for the link. I'd love to see him come back with a vengance. But Stoudamire was one of the top 5 or 10 players in the League last year, and I'm just not terribly sanguine on his prospects for coming back to that level.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 28, 2005 5:40:55 PM

"I'm glad to see Mike D'Antoni chosen as an assistant coach for Team USA basketball, but really it seems to me that he ought to be the head coach. For one thing, he's obviously a good coach. More specifically, he's the American with the most experience in coaching international basketball."

Exactamundo.

"On the other hand, I should say that the discredited "Dream Team" model would still be pretty awesome if you could put a bona fide dream team together. Shaq, Duncan, McGrady, Kobe, and Kidd start, I guess, with Garnett, Iverson, and James rounding out your basic eight-man rotation."

Yup. The key for the international game seems to be guards with great outside shots. Kobe and McGrady.would do well in that game. Chauncey Billups would probably thrive in that game.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 28, 2005 5:44:52 PM

"His doctor sounds pretty optimistic."

I agree with Nicholas that pessimism is warranted. No one's come back from microfracture at anything even vaguely near 100%. Maybe Amare's situation is best case, but he'd still be the first one to come all the way back. Add to that the fact that his game is based on athleticism.

And I thought the final quote from the doctor was the opposite of reassuring.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 28, 2005 5:50:08 PM

"And if anyone saw the game against the Lakers last night..."

I'm deeply annoyed I missed that.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 28, 2005 5:55:10 PM

Billups would thrive in the international game, as would Michael Redd, Rip, Ray Allen. Baron Davis is another very good point.

I think I would put Duncan and Shaq in the post, James at the small, Kobe at the two, and Billups at the point. Garnett, Mcgrady, Iverson off the bench, along with Redd or Rip or Allen, Wade as a combo guard, and Big Ben.

James can and does pass, Duncan and Garnett are as unselfish as they come, Shaq is a monster, Kobe is Kobe, and Billups is really good at both ends of the floor. The others allow situational substitutions.

Kidd's defense is horrible. Yes, he had a masterful game last night, but he can't stop anyone on D.

Posted by: tony | Nov 28, 2005 6:05:03 PM

Maybe (okay, almost certainly) it's just my Dukie-dom, but I like K over D'Antoni. Taking as given that we're not going to get a true Dream Team, talent selection and making that group mesh become much more important. That's exactly what K does so well.

Posted by: ptm | Nov 28, 2005 6:14:58 PM

Taking as given that we're not going to get a true Dream Team

But, isn't this the fault of the USOC's inability to persuade the NBA that the olympics are important? Wouldn't it be easier to fix this problem than play with one hand tied behind our backs?

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 28, 2005 7:04:04 PM

"But, isn't this the fault of the USOC's inability to persuade the NBA that the olympics are important?"

No. It's the fault of the quite understandable desire of megastars over a certain age not to be subjecting their bodies to playing competitive basketball 12 months out of the year.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 28, 2005 7:23:39 PM

Actually, the Nets-Lakers game was very sloppy; not a great game by any standard. However, Kobe really was quite amazing - it's fun to watch a guy who is so completely in a zone for a while that he is hitting 3s from 30 feet when he is completely covered. But actually Kidd wasn't on him most of the time - he abused Jefferson (fouled out with 6 minutes left) and Carter much more. And I'm going to disagree with tony - Kidd is still a pretty good defender. He can't guard little guys like TJ Ford, but he's fine with other guards.

And, again, I'm going to disagree that you want a point guard who's going to jack it up a lot - we had that last Olympics with Marbury, and look what happened. So why we'd want someone like Baron Davis at the point, I don't know. (Again, that's not to say who's better from an NBA perspective - although I don't really like shoot-first PGs in the NBA either...) Frankly, I'd probably rather have a quick little guy who can get in the lane and then dish (like TJ Ford, say).

Posted by: Al | Nov 28, 2005 7:23:41 PM

"And, again, I'm going to disagree that you want a point guard who's going to jack it up a lot - we had that last Olympics with Marbury, and look what happened."

As far as I can tell from my limited experience watching the international game, the problem seems to that penetration is worth much less than it is in the NBA, so folks like Iverson, Marbury, and Wade are far less effective.

I don't think there'd be anything wrong with a shoot-first PG as long as they have a reliable outside shot.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 28, 2005 11:11:58 PM

The thing of it is that in a "dream team" scenario there's just no call for a shoot-first point guard no matter how good the player may be since you're guaranteed to have a bunch of excellent scorers on the floor at all times anyways. The challenge, such as it is, becomes distributing the ball among your various superstars.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Nov 28, 2005 11:32:25 PM

OK, I don't know who brought up Baron Davis as a decent point guard for the international game, but it needs to stop now. This year, Davis is shooting 31.9% from the field, 25.6% on 3s, and 65.2% from the line. His career averages aren't much better. The guy just. can't. shoot.
And as far as the horrible burden of making a living my playing basketball 12 months a year -- cry me a fucking river.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 28, 2005 11:48:55 PM

Jason Kidd is exactly what should be avoided. He's a good (used to be great) NBA player. He simply cannot shoot. If USA wants to take advantage of their superior post players, they need two guards on the floor at all times who can knock down their jump shots. Shaq should also be avoided. The difference between Shaq and KG in the international game? The international referees won't let Shaq back down players (offensive foul every possession) while KG can get his points using athleticism and a solid set shot/turn around jumper. Duncan is a perfect center. I have to agree that Chauncey Billups would be the best pick for PG. Starting lineup of Billups, Kobe, LeBron, KG and Duncan would be dominant. Ray Allen, Michael Redd, Bibby, Rashard Lewis, Brad Miller, Elton Brand and Jermaine O'Neal on the bench.

Posted by: a | Nov 29, 2005 1:11:48 AM

"The thing of it is that in a "dream team" scenario there's just no call for a shoot-first point guard no matter how good the player may be since you're guaranteed to have a bunch of excellent scorers on the floor at all times anyways."

I'm probably in error in using the term 'shoot-first'. But you do seem to need a PG who can reliably knock down the open outside shot to keep the defense from sagging on post players.

This is the argument against a player like Kidd, who is a superb distributor but unreliable with his outside shot. Nash doesn't share that weakness, but is, of course, a dirty foreigner.

I'd go along with a's suggestion of Mike Bibby as the backup to Billups.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 29, 2005 5:32:53 AM

Off-topic Ugly Facts for Sixers Fans:

In the last 9 games, the Sixers are 5-4. In those 9 games, how have they done early versus late?

First Quarter: 9 Wins 0 Losses
First Half: 7 Wins 2 Losses
Second Half: 2 Wins 7 Losses

For the entire season so far, their record in the second half is an astounding 3 Wins 11 Losses. It's pretty remarkable that they aren't worse than .500. Hopefully Dalembert's return will allow them to find some way to play defense down the stretch.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 29, 2005 7:46:53 AM

The wierd thing about Philly is that they are the highest scoring team in the league... but they are giving up the third most points in the league (after Seattle and Toronto). Are they really that much of an up-tempo team? I'm surprised that with Iverson and Iguodala they are so bad defensively (their opposing FG% is quite bad).

Posted by: Al | Nov 29, 2005 11:55:17 AM

"Are they really that much of an up-tempo team?"

Y'all laughed at me when I suggested their model was last year's Suns...

It's partially that they're up-tempo, but also that they've been brutally efficient in the half court. Webber may not be able to move, but he can certainly pass. Iverson is shooting 45%, which is remarkably high for his career. Both Iguodala and Hunter were in the top 5 for FG% early in the season. And they're leading the league in fewest turnovers.

The problem is interior defense and rebounding. They are facing a massive deficit in offensive rebounds every single game that usually outweighs their advantage in turnovers. And they have zero interior defense. Once a Sixer defender gets beat on the perimeter, it's smooth sailing to the hoop. LBJ and Wade each had more than a handful of poster dunks against the Sixers.

Part of the problem is that Webber is utterly useless on defense. Part of the problem is that Korver is semi-weak on defense. Part of the problem is that the five on court so far this season are often Iverson, Webber, and three 6'-6" guys.

If Sammy Dalembert, the Haitian Hellraiser, can grow up fast and singlehandedly solve their rebounding and interior defense problems, this team could do some real damage. But they won't go any further than the basically unproven Dalembert is able to carry them.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 29, 2005 12:28:31 PM

Well, Kidd's not a great shooter, but he's probably better than Baron Davis. But that's not the point -- Jason Kidd is a great point guard anywhere, anytime, under any set of rules. He can play on the break, in the half-court, against man, against zone. He'll always find the open man. Chauncey Billups can score, but if you've got Kobe and McGrady and LeBron,etc, etc, why would you want Chauncey Billups shooting the ball?
On the other hand, Mike Bibby is an excellent choice. His role with Sacramento is to score, but he can be a great playmaker.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 29, 2005 2:14:52 PM

By 2008, Shaq ain't gonna be what he is today, and he already is a far cry from his prime. By that point, you'd be looking at an Amare, Duncan, Garnet, Lebron, Chris Paul squad. Really, what American point guard projects to be better than Paul by 2008?
If the US really does get its best out there, we'll still win. Otherwise, we really do need to tailor the team to international rules, because the game is very different. The international game is ALL about shooting. Skills like dribble penetration, shot blocking, aggressive defense and low post play have greatly diminished value. Try to count up the international stars that excell in those areas and you can count them on one hand. (Nash, Ginobli, Kirilenko.)

Posted by: Jin | Nov 29, 2005 5:01:24 PM

Chauncey Billups can score, but if you've got Kobe and McGrady and LeBron,etc, etc, why would you want Chauncey Billups shooting the ball?

Because the others are covered.

The point is, a zone can sag off the poor shooter, so you need a PG who is able to keep the defense honest. That's certainly not true of Davis, and it might not be true of Kidd, either.

Posted by: Bill | Nov 29, 2005 6:04:47 PM

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