WBF Leftovers

Posted by John Schuhmann

NEW YORK – Here’s tonight’s story from the World Basketball Festival. It was just 24 minutes of basketball, but it was good to see the team take it seriously, despite the unusual environment.

While you can excuse the poor shooting because of the fact that they were playing on a stage, the turnovers (27 of ‘em) are a real concern.

UPDATE: I had originally written that there were 30 turnovers. 27 is the correct number.

***

At this point, I’m still not entirely sure who the three cuts will be, but it sounds like we’re going to find out sooner than we expected.

“Maybe we do let all 12 players know who we think are going to be the 12 before we depart [for Europe on Monday],” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “And if we bring one or two or three other players, they’ll know that they’re in reserve. They can practice and so forth. But it’s probably important before we depart to let the 12 players, whoever they are determined to be, to know they’re part of the 12.”

“We’re not rushing it, because all these guys have done a good job,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But at some point, you have to move on.

“That will be a tough decision, but those are good tough decisions to have.”

***

I think the most likely three to get cut will be Eric Gordon, Jeff Green and JaVale McGee. But there’s still a little bit of uncertainty, at least in my mind, and it mostly deals with McGee.

Gordon has continued to shoot the ball well in camp, but he is basically in a head-to-head competition with Stephen Curry. And Curry may have put an end to that competition with his four second-half threes on Thursday.

Sure, it was an intrasquad scrimmage, but with it being a tight game, that was as much pressure as these guys have had in their eight days of training thus far. And Curry stepped up and hit some big shots.

Green is a solid role player (which every team needs), but he hasn’t stood out at all. And with Danny Granger back from his finger injury, Green looks to be the one forward who won’t make the final roster. He gives you more on the interior, but Granger is the better shooter.

Now … McGee.

He didn’t help his cause with his play on Thursday, throwing up a backwards shot as he lost his balance in the lane on his first touch, and then following that up with a shaky 15-foot jumper (which he shouldn’t be taking at all on this team). But he’s still one of just two centers left on the roster.

So you definitely take him to Europe for the three exhibitions there, just in case Tyson Chandler gets injured. But what happens if Chandler gets injured in one of the first few games of the World Championship? There are no injury replacements or inactive list. That 12-man roster which needs to be submitted two days before the tournament begins is as final as final can be.

So is McGee one of the 12, in case of emergency? Maybe. Or maybe the staff feels that even if Chandler got hurt, they’d still feel more comfortable with Lamar Odom and Kevin Love manning the center position than throwing McGee out there and hoping he doesn’t make too many mistakes.

I think, in writing the above paragraph, I just convinced myself that McGee doesn’t make the team. We’ll see.

Anyway, if they think they need to keep him, then they’ve got to make a cut somewhere else. And that’s when it could really get interesting. Would they cut one of the four point guards? If so, it would have to be Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook. Or perhaps they would cut both Granger and Green.

We’ll find out soon enough. For now, I’m sticking with my Gordon-Green-McGee prediction.

***

In case you missed it earlier on Thursday, here was my story on the forward rotation, which seems to be materializing pretty clearly. And Andre Iguodala’s play on Thursday night strengthens my belief that he will be a starter.

***

I thought Odom’s play stood out on Thursday. Between the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas and several days of scrimmages in both Vegas and New York, I’ve seen this team play a lot of basketball. And this was the first time I feel that Odom really made his presence felt.

He had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, four boards, an assist and a steal. He knocked down two threes and even dunked on the guy that was dunking on everyone else.

***

So the Blue Team had the ball with the score tied for the final possession of regulation, and Mike D’Antoni chose not to put the ball in Kevin Durant‘s hands?

A drive-and-kick by Derrick Rose to Stephen Curry for a jumper is a nice second option, but how does KD not get the ball there?

***

Tomorrow I need to ask Chandler when the last time he had a game-winning basket was.

***

Despite the absence of Pau Gasol, Spain could still very well be called the favorite at the World Championship. They finalized their 12-man roster on Tuesday, and it looks very much like the squad that was right there with the U.S. in the final minutes of the gold medal game two years ago in Beijing.

Gasol was that team’s leading scorer and played the most minutes. But the next eight guys from that team in both points scored and minutes played in the 2008 Olympics are back on the roster.

Spain will have a dynamic point guard in Ricky Rubio; experience in the backcourt with Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro; scoring from Rudy Fernandez; a strong frontline with Marc Gasol, Fran Vazquez (who wasn’t on the ’08 team), Felipe Reyes, Alex Mumbru and Jorge Garbajosa; and the continuity of having played together that the Americans won’t.

***

Argentina also finalized its 12-man roster on Tuesday. They will be without Manu Ginobili, but they’ll have 10 of the other 12 guys from the roster that won bronze in Beijing, including Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola and point guard Pablo Prigioni.

***

I’ll take a much deeper look at the other teams in the World Championship next week. Stay tuned.

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

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

9 Comments

  1. Chuck says:

    I think that once this team gets into the strong competition that the experienced teams bring, you will find Rondo in the game. It is amusing to read how many people point out his shooting shortcomings when he was the obvious star of the Celtics especially during crunch periods. Even in the scrimmage the other night, when there was a loose ball or an errant pass, there was Rajon picking it up and starting the fast break. I think the ball will basically be in his and KD’s hands.

  2. ZenDoc says:

    After watching the JaVale McGee video, my opinion is changing on him. Center really is the team’s weakness and you can’t teach the height and heft 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’s 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, 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. Do you agree or disagree with that?

  3. unknown says:

    This game is for leftover just like the title says.Many of this player are just playing for the spot and if the played well is because they don’t wanna be out.Rose already qualified in the first game and in the other scrimmages before this.This was scrimmage for fans for you to watch.Check the scores of the other scrmmage.This team have no talent, no defense,bad handling(caused a lot of turnovers) and less teamwork.Other usa team in the past have more team work and a lot of talent.As age come weaker usa team goes to play and that why they can’t win gold no more.Iguadala score 15 points in this scrimage and the other scores 2 points in the other, WTF is that?Why iguadola didn’t pass the ball to rose and try that failed attempt of a dunk.Is he looking for the spot??This is one of the most selfish and lazy team with less talent that I have ever watched.Be sure to see USA team fail once again.Nobody in this team is ready to play the world.

    Rose and Rondo in all the game have provided something the other guard didn’t provide a lot of defense.Rondo didn’t try to score, he just was trying to make the team work together.Rose took four attempt only made one but he didn’t demmanded the ball, he was hiding left and right side outside of the three point range.Playing good defense, maybe some mistake in the last scrimmage.My olny wish is rose to be cut of this team, because we are gonna see many country humilating this usa team.Rose is not ready to play with so called “Team USA” and being humiliated with the weakest usa team ever of this decade.This team is a disgrace.

  4. DC4U says:

    It is a good idea for Team USA to let McGee travel with them to Europe even if he does not make the second cut. Why? It is because of just one reason — test drive him in the warm-up game with Spain against those Spanish bigs (Marc Gasol…) in the front court while Chandler is off the floor. See what happens. Alright?

    In order to win this world championship, Team USA will have to face two or three top teams (Spain, Agentina or Greece), and beat them in the front court in terms of rebounding and shot-blocking. McGee is a very good fighter against Marc Gasol and Oberto (a teammate in Washington) by subduing those guys. Therefore, McGee is considered as a good backup for Chandler in the games ahead for Team USA. Isn’t he a Mustang guy for our fast-running team. Right?

  5. riseup09 says:

    Yeah Rose and Gay didnt do so well but i still wouldnt take rose out of the starting line up. I think it will all come down to the exhibition game against spain. Players have to show up on sunday. Durant didnt have a solid game either.

    The starting Five should be

    PG. Derrick Rose SG Chauncey Billups SF Kevin Durant PF Lamar Odom C Tyson Chandler

    I still believe rose should start hands down he is the best guard on the team in my eyes. Chauncey Billups needs to be a scorer and plus he can defend and he is clutch so put him at the two be a scorer and defensive stopper like Kobe was in 2008.. Rose will do just fine running the point and the offense and scoring if he needs he is good at setting up his teammates. Kevin Durant needs to be in a position where he can create his own shot in isolation. Or call for it in the post so put him o nthe wing. Lamar Odom you can say is pretty much the gonna do what lebron James did for team usa in 2008. knock down jumpers slash to the hole plauy defense do dirty work and be a leader. can post up or shoot the rock and slash to the hole. He can also dish the rock so that makes him a good fit for the PF spot he is very versatile as well. Tyson Chandler is a big body and can catch alley oops and finsih at the rim in my eyes.

    My second unit would be PG Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook SG Stephen Curry SF Andre Iguodala PF Rudy Gay C Kevin Love

    Rondo keeps the game at his pace. He is a theif on defense lol and can slash to the bucket or dish to get teammates involved great fit off the bench. STephen curry can shoot lights out once he gets going so he is good fit to bring a another scoring 2 guard off the bench but he needs to be bring defensive energy off the bench. Russell westbrook could easily be in that second unit as welll. He is athletic he can finish at the rim not as good as rose but almost like rose can. he is quick and a good defender and briongs energy as well. very explosive so he can definently set the tone off the bench along with rondo. Rudy gay and Andre Iguodala are the duo that will be the X factors for the team. If them two can get going and hit shots get break away dunks then USA will be even more dangerous. Those two would be in my second unit. kevin Love is the garbage man gets every rebound when he is on the floor. Under sized but he still plays above his height. Great big man off the bench who could spread the defenses as well with his outside shooting

  6. ZenDoc says:

    That was a fun Team USA scrimmage to watch, although the play was pretty sloppy. I had no idea that they had 30 turnovers in half a game, though. In a full 48-minute game that would be equivalent to 30 turnovers for each team or however they were split up, so that has to improve. It may be a good thing that FIBA games are only 40 minutes. I’d like to see the full stats for this scrimmage. I caught some of the points scored, but not everybody’s, and none of the rebound stats, assists, turnovers, steals, etc. The scoring that I heard or saw went like this: Andre’ Iguodala (the scrimmage MVP) led all scorers with 15 points, followed by Steph Curry with 14 pts., Lamar Odom had 13 pts,, Chauncey Billups – 11 pts,, and Kevin Durant was the only other player in double figures with 10 points. After that Russell Westbrook scored 8 points, Danny Granger had 6, and Jeff Green had 4. I’m not sure how many points Rudy Gay had, nor Tyson Chandler, although I know that he scored the winning basket. The final score was 49-47 Blue over White for a total of 96 points. The 8 players whose point totals I’ve documented have a total of 81 points, which leaves only 15 points spread among the other 7 players. I know that Chandler had at least 2 of those points and that Eric Gordon had 3 points at halftime, and Rose & Gay had 2 pts. at the half, so any of these players could have ended up with more, but now there are only 6 points left, and I saw Kevin Love score a bucket and JaVale McGee also, so really there’s only 2 points unaccounted for, and everyone scored at least 2 points with the possible exception of Rajon Rondo, who may not have scored any.

    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 pretty impressive. Rudy Gay had a disappointing scrimmage, as did Derrick Rose, and Eric Gordon did not impress me. 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, 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.

    If I was choosing a starting 5 for Team USA based on this scrimmage, it would be Chauncey Billups and Steph Curry at the guards, Andre’ Iguodala and Kevin Durant at the forwards, and Lamar Odom at the center, even though he’s playing out of position there. I like Odom at the center, splitting the time with Tyson Chandler. My second team would have Rondo and Westbrook at the guards, Gay and Granger at the forwards, and Chandler at center, which leaves only Derrick Rose to work his way out of the doghouse and back into the starting lineup (most likely), and Kevin Love to sub in at the 4-5. Based on this scrimmage, I think that Eric Gordon is completely expendable because there are 5 guards on this team better than him. Also, JaVale McGee made a couple bonehead plays & didn’t show much otherwise. Jeff Green ran well, but he’s up against stiff competition, with 5 forwards ahead of him. So far, it looks like McGee, Gordon, and 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.

  7. zzanzabar says:

    In a strange way I can see this good USA team in a ‘no win’ situation. If they defeat their opponents and win the WBF (it would be after a long time, right), then people will cheer them but say “just imagine what would have happened if the REAL stars of the NBA were there.” If they lose it will be much of the same thing, ‘yeah, they lost but so what?, most of the best players stayed home.’ I know that is unfair but it is what will be said none the less.

    That is the problem with these tournaments that occur so soon after the playoffs; many of the better NBA players are exhausted and want a well deserved break before the start of the next season (can you believe it is only a little more than a month and a half from now?) One thing is for sure, if the USA doesn’t win, you will hear another round of how the international game has finally ‘caught up’ with the NBA (sigh).

    I wish all those who do make the USA team the best of luck and hope the kick butt in the WBF tournament. We do appreciate the sacrifice and hard work they have put into their play.

  8. TC. says:

    I agree with the Gordon, McGee, Green.

    Yes, Odom! Just what this team needs. I can’t wait to see him play on Sunday @ MSG!

    Spain sounds tough but without Pau, I’m not that scared. lol. Then again, if the US has a brand-new team and Spain’s is returning (for the most part)…. I may be a little worried.

  9. LOL says:

    D’Antoni chose to go with Rose at the end of regulation because Rose could of put that ball in the basket if he wanted to, but the situation caused for him to go the politically correct route and pass it off (that’s when you know a player is gonna be great) and since it was only a scrimmage anyways. Right now America is not ready for Derrick Rose. That’s why the media is pushing this “Kevin Durant is the leader and focal point of this team” thing. Cause’ Durant has more of that alpha-male personality that America has been attached to for the last 12-13 years. Jordan was meant to happen, but you guys spoiled the fans by shoving the kobes, wades, & lebrons down their throats which caused the fans to get spoiled. I miss the days where nba players didn’t have personalities, as far as publicly. The hype has become bigger than the game where the game doesn’t even matter anymore.