HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If you are in need of a late summer basketball fix, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has a wicked handle on all the goings on at the 2010 World Championship.
And after Tuesday’s outlandish performance by Argentine star and Rockets forward Luis Scola, it seems the spotlight has shifted even more to the international game as the competition heads toward the gold medal showdown.
Scola’s showcase inspired a round of questions here at the hideout, mainly from folks who want to know why more of these guys that make such bold statements during international competition cannot duplicate that work during the NBA season.
Kevin Durant has conceded the World Championship MVP to Luis Scola. “He’s a beast … the MVP by far in this tournament, win or lose.”
That won’t stop the avalanche of prickly messages and one-liners suggesting that performances like the one Scola turned in can only be done against international competition and not in the NBA.
I can’t tell you how many emails that hit the hideout inbox included the tired line, “If he’s so great why doesn’t Scola play like that in the NBA?”
Um … he does play like that in the league (he piled up 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as the low-post anchor for the Yao-less Rockets last season, more than respectable numbers for his position) — check the video:
While I certainly understand the premise of the question, I don’t agree with this notion that Scola and many of his fellow star imports don’t do the same sorts of things in the league. They do it all the time (or maybe you don’t consider Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Yao Ming and Tony Parker, to name a few “international” stars).
Scola’s more than just some random role player for the Rockets, though it is still clearly Yao’s team. He might not be a star on the same level of some of those aforementioned international NBA All-Stars, but the two-time Spanish league MVP has been considered one of the most skilled and best big men on the global scene for years.
Assuming his work in Turkey is anything other than high-caliber work from one of the game’s best is beyond foolish. Scola’s a monster and has been a factor for the Rockets since he set foot in the NBA at the start of the 2007-08 season.
That said, stardom outside of the NBA has never been a direct link to how a player might fit in the league, as the litany of domestic college stars that have either flamed out or failed to find their NBA footing will attest. (Not to pick on anyone in particular, but 2005 Final Four MVP Sean May, a similarly skilled power forward, was cut Tuesday by the Nets and seems closer than ever to playing his way out of the league.)
“There is no definitive measure for who can or cannot make the transition from international or college star to the league, it’s always an educated projection,” an Eastern Conference scouting friend e-mailed in response to a query about what signs he looks for when evaluating prospects. “Scola certainly had all the tools but lots of guys come into the league with what you think is right make up and it doesn’t work out. To his credit, [Scola] worked hard to adjust to our game while also maintaining what’s he always done, be it with the national team or the Spanish teams he starred on. But there’s nothing surprising about what he’s done the last couple of years in Houston or anything I’ve seen out of him in Turkey.”
Bottom line: Scola’s a force for Argentina and the Rockets.
The Rockets wouldn’t have signed him to that five-year, $47 million deal this summer if he wasn’t.