Friday Scrimmage Impressions

Posted by John Schuhmann

TARRYTOWN, NY – About 16 hours after Tyson Chandler threw down the game-winner at Radio City Music Hall, the U.S. Team got back to work at the Knicks’ practice facility on Friday.

Kevin Love sat out with a bruised right calf, which he suffered in Thursday night’s scrimmage. He’s listed as day-to-day.

The other 14 remaining players were split into two groups. We saw each group play a 10-minute scrimmage against the Select Team, and combined, they crushed the college kids, 51-20.

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Group 1 started Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler, with Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook coming off the bench.

They beat the Select Team 25-4 in their 10-minute scrimmage. Billups led them with nine points, all on threes. Iguodala had six points on two threes in the final minute. Durant had four points, Green had four, and Westbrook had two.

Green’s four points were a pair of dunks off feeds from Rondo and Billups.

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Group 2 started Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger and Lamar Odom, with Eric Gordon and JaVale McGee coming off the bench.

They beat the Select Team 26-16. Curry and Gordon had eight points each. Granger had five, Gay had three and Odom had two.

This group was up 11-2 and then 21-7, but some of their same issues (too many threes, too many turnovers, defensive rebounding) popped up for a stretch and the Select Team went on a 9-0 run to close within five. Curry then finished the scrimmage with a nice baseline drive and a corner three (off a drive-and-kick from Gordon).

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Gordon continues to shoot the ball well. If they’re going to cut him, he’s not making it easy for them.

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Most of the Senior Team’s scoring today came in the half-court situations, and 33 of their 51 points came on threes. They were hot, but at times, they will need reminders to get the ball into the paint.

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Next up is a closed scrimmage against China at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. Time to play someone new.

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John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.

5 Comments

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  2. ZenDoc says:

    The fact that Jeff Green and JaVale McGee are the only players who didn’t play one minute in the 4-Quarter scrimmage against China today is probably the most definitive evidence that those 2 players are going to get cut from the team. After I read the pre-scrimmage analysis which included a quote that was pretty damning as far as JaVale McGee’s chances of making the team, I realized that Coach K wants to keep more talented players who can provide scoring rather than another rebounder, shot blocker, and Big Man defender. To quote from the other article: “It’s an opportunity to see different combinations and I think also for our guys they’ll see better where we stand in building a team,” added Coach K. “A big plus for us right now is how (Tyson) Chandler and (Lamar) Odom are playing. It gives us a great one-two punch at the five position, which we were really worried about coming into this because we didn’t know where Tyson would be coming off of being out and then we didn’t know where Lamar would be either having had a long season like that; but both of them have given us some strength there at the five.”

    Does that sound like the 5 is set or what? Without McGee, Coach K still can call on Kevin Love to fill in some minutes at the 5, and hopefully never call on Kevin Durant again to play the 5. So, it appears that there’s only one more decision for Coach K to make to finalize his roster of 12. With the 13 players who are apparently still in contention, it could be helpful to look at how many players Team USA has on its roster who can play the various positions, regardless of their primary position, or how many other positions they are already listed for. It would look something like this:

    Point Guards: 1) Rajon Rondo 2) Derrick Rose 3) Russell Westbrook 4) Chauncey Billups and 5) Steph Curry

    Shooting Guards: 1) Steph Curry 2) Eric Gordon 3) Chauncey Billups 4) Russell Westbrook 5) Derrick Rose 6) Andre’ Iguodala 7) Kevin Durant 8) Danny Granger

    Small Forwards: 1) Kevin Durant 2) Andre’ Iguodala 3) Rudy Gay 4) Danny Granger

    Power Forwards: 1) Kevin Durant 2) Lamar Odom 3) Kevin Love 4) Rudy Gay 5) Danny Granger

    Centers: 1) Tyson Chandler 2) Lamar Odom 3) Kevin Love

    This shows that the Center position is the thinnest, and that every other position has plenty of athletes that can play those positions, especially Shooting Guard, where 8 of the 13 potential roster members can play that position. That’s the main reason why I don’t think that Coach K can or needs to keep Eric Gordon. Danny Granger is more valuable to the team as a scorer and someone who can play the front court. The only players that I did not list multiple positions for were Rajon Rondo at the 1, Eric Gordon at the 2, and Tyson Chandler at the 5. Steph Curry is a better shooter than Gordon and is more versatile, being able to handle both guard positions well. If the decision will come down to Danny Granger vs. Eric Gordon, I believe that Danny Granger really showed how much more valuable to the team he is during the scrimmage Saturday against China. Of course, we will get another look on Sunday against France, and it’s televised at 1:00PM EDT so we can all weigh in with our opinions then.

  3. ZenDoc says:

    After watching the JaVale McGee video in a different article on USA Basketball, my opinion is changing on him. Center really is the team’s weakness and you can’t teach the height and heft combined with the athleticism that McGee brings to the table, that it’s going to require against some of the bigger opponents that Team USA is going to face. I think that it could be too risky to only keep one true center and fill in with 2 forwards playing out of position (Odom & Love). McGee would definitely strengthen the post and give them 4 possible options at the 5 (really the 4-5, but Coach K also plans to play Durant and Gay at the 4 quite a bit, so that’s 6 possibilities at the post positions, but still only 2 real Centers. McGee runs really well and can block shots and play defense on the bigs. I think that fact plus the added insurance is going to be more important than keeping another scorer like Eric Gordon or even Danny Granger, or a much smaller defender in the paint like Jeff Green.

    That means that the 12-man roster would feature 5 guards: Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and Steph Curry, 3 wing players: Andre’ Iguodala (2-3), Rudy Gay (3-4), and Kevin Durant (2-3-4), along with 4 Bigs: Chandler, McGee, Odom, & Love. I think that gives them the most versatility and some insurance in case of injury at the most vital positions: Point Guard & Center. That means that Coach K would have to release Gordon, Green, and Granger (3 G’s), which hurts them a little in their ability to score, but not that much, since they would still have Billups, Curry, Durant, Odom, Gay, Iguodala, & even Westbrook, Rose, & Love. I’d like to keep Danny Granger, if possible (Eric Gordon, too), but I don’t know who I’d cut from that roster to do that. I think that the team will need the explosiveness and aggressiveness of Westbrook, Rondo, & Rose, and the insurance in case one of them goes down. What do you think?

  4. ZenDoc says:

    If you look at Group 1 vs Group 2, there’s more talent on Group 1, and their starting 5 could be THE starting 5 for Team USA: It’s not far-fetched that Rajon Rondo could be the starting point guard over Derrick Rose, and Chauncey Billups is a good bet for the starting 2 guard with Steph Curry coming off the bench. Andre’ Iguodala and Kevin Durant are the most likely starting forwards, and probably Tyson Chandler at the 5, although it could be Lamar Odom. The guys in Group 2 are most likely coming off the bench with the likely exception of Derrick Rose, and possibly Lamar Odom.

    As far as the live Thursday scrimmage that we actually got to see went, certain players helped themselves here, while others didn’t distinguish themselves at all in this scrimmage. The players who were most impressive to me were Iguodala, Billups, Odom, Durant, Curry, and Rondo, with Chandler, Westbrook and Granger also being impressive. Rudy Gay had a disappointing scrimmage, as did Derrick Rose, and Eric Gordon did not impress me very much, but he didn’t play much, either. I didn’t see enough of Kevin Love, JaVale McGee, or Jeff Green to make a judgment call on who did well enough to make the team, although Kevin Love should have a spot locked up. Even if Rajon Rondo didn’t score much, he impressed me as being the best passer on the team, and he, Billups, and Westbrook all looked better running the point than Derrick Rose did on this day.

    So far, I agree with John Schuhmann that JaVale McGee, Eric Gordon, and Jeff Green will get cut but probably at least Green and McGee will travel to Europe to practice with the team and be available in case of an injury. And the story hasn’t been completely written yet. Eric Gordon, especially, will still get more chances to impress the coaches before Monday.

  5. Relly rell says:

    This is a very exciting team.. With Steph, and kevin Durant out there together team USA will be undefeated.