Lost In Translation?

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.

As Schuhmann pointed out via Twitter this morning, Scola’s (FIBA and NBA) peers know that he’s a star:

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:

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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.

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46 Comments

  1. VinCe says:

    i believe that scola has the potential to become a superstar but because of his age, he might loose some screws a bit… Not all players can stay consistent… For example, Carter was one of the greats, the elites… he gave every game flare, energy and excitement, but now as he is in Orlando, he faces the possibility of being put in the bench and become a six man or a veteran leader… he can still dunk the ball and pull off some tricks but not like when he was young… but its just in my opinion.

  2. C-Mac says:

    Check the poll. It’s spelled New Zealand, not New Zeeland.

  3. Big Statement says:

    Scola’s Argentine vs Brazil performance was not a surprise for those who have been watching him in the NBA. Watch him have a 20-10 season this season.

  4. think says:

    Another example of the NBA focusing too much on flash and marketability rather than effectiveness and winning.

  5. NAZEL CAVITY says:

    OK for the person who said SCOLA is the best in the world in the post lets see him vs someone who is actually good in the post like shaq or bosh or even like shaq could easily wipe scola off the floor but i cant lie scola right now in the FIBAS is doing well for his country go USS AND DURANT WOOOT WOOOOT

  6. big bily boy says:

    why on the poll above does kirk penny from New Zealand not have more votes. I have watched him play a couple of games on t.v and the guy is amazing, why Mr penny are you not in the NBA???

  7. KOBE suuuuuuuuuuxxxxxxx says:

    One of the Spurs rare mistakes was trading Scola

  8. dshepp says:

    great post…i agree luis scola could dominate like this on the nighly if he was a focal point of a nba franchise….but on the other hand he is not a franchise player..but can fill up the stat sheet for a average to bad nba team…scola could be a starter on an nba contender for sure…he also does the little things no one sees

  9. Sawyer says:

    All american people DO NOT understand basketball!!! Scola is the best inside man of the whole wolrd!!! Go Argentina GO!!!!

    • MIAMI SUCKS says:

      I dont think Americans are the ones who dont understand basketball. Especially if YOU think scola is the best inside man in the world. Wake up kid!! He is a good player, but far from the best inside man. How old are you, 7?

  10. Rain says:

    International players don’t do that well in NBA, becausce they are subar athletically compared to Americans. If you compare all leagues in the world then in NBA there are lot more plays run on one-on-one and in that kind of basketball your physique gives a distinct advantage. It’s all not that Internationals can’t produce athletes, but there is no star/stud mentality hammerd from birth. Americans talk about team comes first, but for Internationals it goes without saying. So internationals have to be really gifted to be able to compete on foreign turf.

  11. Celtics#18 says:

    International play is nothing like the NBA. NBA is full of talent that can guard Scola.

  12. rocketfan_believeit or not says:

    I am a Rocket fan, have been since I was a little kid learning to play the game. I am 26 now and I can tell that if there were a couple of guys not only with the talent but also as humble as Scola is, Rockets will be contenders each and every year. Without Yao, they were close to the 8 spot last year, If Yao remains healthy and Scola produces the same than last year, along with complementary and consistent contribution from Flash Brooks and Kevin Martin I see the rockets again in the big picture at least making Lakers, Suns, Spurs or Dallas life little miserable trying to reach the finals.

    Parker, Dirk and all of the guys mentioned by Sekou are superstars, but there are a lot of good players that could shine better if they get the chance. Quietly Krstic did a great job for OKC last season, Nocioni is not bad, he is just in the Sixers, Najera is a great ball defender who drive guys like Duncan and Garnett nuts everytime they face each other, Calderon is a very high IQ point guard, etc. And never forget one of the first foreign superstars that once played on this league Mr. Drazen Petrovic R.I.P just ask Jordan if Petrovic was good??? or Vlade Divac whos jersey is hanging on the roof of the kings arena.

    I am Mexican and right now support the U.S. team in the worlds… but each time U.S. team plays against better prepared international “unknowns” they continue to give them headaches cuz they are most of the times lack of humbleness and believe they are still the original and only one “dream team” and excuse me for saying it but this is the best U.S. team I’ve seen in terms of unity and chemistry since the real Dream Team cuz no one wants to score 40 like it had happened in previous editions

    • MIAMI SUCKS says:

      I like Yao. But I dont think those feet are going to hold that 7 foot 6 frame. Plus the weight that he carries.

      • Zanzabar says:

        I agree with most of what you said, the players you mentioned are stars and great players in their own rights, and as I stated earlier, Scola has shown that he can light it up (if given the chance). But I am willing to forgive (to some extent) the perceived lack of ‘humbleness’ shown by prior USA FIBA teams. Remember everyone considers them the ‘B’ team, both abroad and at home. This is a tournament where most of the big names in NBA basketball just do not attend (unlike the Olympics). This could have helped to put a ‘chip’ on the shoulders of prior teams. Too often those former teams where trying too hard to prove that they were just as good, as you put it, as the one and only ‘Dream Team’.

        It was only until recently that there was a ‘players’ camp and group workouts to give the USA team a sense of team cohesiveness. To most USA citizens the FIBA is just not that big of a deal compared to the NBA finals, so there is no sense of “dam, we lost!, we will do better next time.” And before people start getting on their high horse about patriotism, national pride, yadda, yadda,… There are some very legitimate reasons that many do not play (and should not); recuperation being the top one (a 81 game season is grueling, especially for those who made the playoffs), in some cases the NBA owners request that their players do not participate, this is true for USA players as well as international NBA (Dirk and Gasol for example).

      • Jake says:

        Zzanzabar you make sensible comments, thank you. And the season’s 82 games by the way:)

      • rocketfan_believeit or not says:

        ZZ I respect what you say and I agree that it is more atractive to watch NBA finals than Euro finals not only because of the players, but the scenario is also important and and NBA game between 2 great teams ( I was in the suns lakers and suns celtics games last season) is without a doubt one of the best experience a basketball fan can have.

        Also I do agree with you regarding the fact that there are players that do not dress up with the U.S. team because their contracts said so, or because they need to recover from a very hard season and I respect that. However I am not talking patriotic speech when I say that in an effort of not being considered as team “B” as you said, lot of guys like Derrick Coleman, Vin Baker, Vince Carter, did try to play in the case of the first 2 to maintain certain status on the league that later lost because they were not that good for the league as first thought, and in the case of Carter to be the showman of the team (I consider him an spectacular player and he had amazing baskets when he was on the team) but really I don’t think camp group could have helped in the case of some very egotistical players. I have seen K. Durant and he is definetely a leader, what Gordon is doing is amazing and is giving the idea for the few Clipper fans that they can do something good this season, Curry is awesome but that is not because of the camp, but because their ego’s remain attached to the ground so far. Billups had attitude problems in Minn and a few when he arrived to Detroit at first, but then he evolved and became one of the best PG’s in the league, Carter was born with the natural talent to be one of the best…yet still, got out of Tor thru the backdoor, had his best years in Jersey (when he had Kidd) and did not win, and now Orlando is considering trading him or benching him to put Reddick, I am not saying all American players are selfish, but in previous teams, the ones that were selfish, were more obvious.

      • Zanzabar says:

        @rocket fan

        Point taken, I agree.

  13. Mike says:

    i have been a houston rocket fan my whole life and scola is one my favorite players of all time. He is such an underrated player in the nba and im glad he is getting the publicity he deserves on the world level. Even though i am going for the USA team, i will be rooting for scola when usa plays argentina!

  14. cristian says:

    Luifa “MVP” Rules!

  15. Ruben says:

    I agree that Scola is one of the most underrated players in the league. He is capable of posting 25 and 10 every night if the he were to be the the main “go to” player on his team. I think the Rockets should trade or let Yao go and build the team around Scola. Every year he has sacrificed shots and played out of position and always came through while other big paid players like Mcgrady and Ming have only been injured and non existent in the playoffs!

    • jackohara says:

      the problem is that Scola is already 30 , it’s hard to start building around him now …

    • Jake says:

      I think you’re overestimating Scola. Last year Yao didn’t play at all and Tracy was MIA and Scola averaged 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds. If he was so good he would have been the main “go to” guy (or maybe he was) on the Rockets last season. I mean who else did they have? Aaron Brooks? Shane Battier? Trevor Ariza? None of those guys are superstars. Scola is good, but he’s not 25 and 10 a night good.

      • Dartherus says:

        Scola was a 20/10 PF after Landry was traded, and despite Brooks and Ariza hogging the ball….Scola had the same stats/minute as he had the previous year, he only accomplished more according to the minutes and to the balls the ballhogs let him have.

      • Boing says:

        Maybe not 25 and 10 (though it wouldn’t surprise me even if he did have those numbers), but he could definitely get 20+ and 10. Is foot work and skills are unbelievable, and if it really wasn’t for Aaron Brooks taking volume shots (though he’s a talented player as well), Scola would have easily gotten 20+ in my opinion.

      • Dartherus says:

        Besides, last season it was not only Yao injured, after the trade, Km had a lot of games down, and also another Rockets players, injuries were the main obstacle to playoffs….not Scola’s fault.

        BTW, Scola is UNBREAKABLE, Did you realie that he hasn’t missed ONE SINGLE GAME, not even in pres-season or playoffs since arrvingin to NBA? I’d bet that at 36 he’ll be healthier than many young athletic players that are now more valued than him….

      • Jake says:

        I’m not saying the Rockets missed the playoffs because of Scola. I’m saying that with all the injuries the Rockets had that if Scola was really good enough to average an efficient 25 ppg and 10 rpg then he would have stepped up and done so. By the way, Scola ranked 48th in the NBA in FGA per game. He had basically the same amount of shots as Trevor Ariza and roughly three less than Aaron Brooks (who played three more minute per game than Scola), so don’t say that Scola didn’t put up better numbers because his teammates were ball hogs. Scola got more shots per game than Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, and Dwight Howard. Don’t try to tell me that he isn’t a superstar because he doesn’t have a big enough role.

  16. Fernando says:

    I’m from Argentina and I’m sure that if Houston could play a little bit more for Scola, he will make a lot of points, he has a lot of offensive skills to get to the rim and from the paint he’s automatic, never fails. Also he’s a very good asistant, he can create game from the paint just like Pau in the Lakers

  17. John Viktor says:

    Best of the best? Marcelo Huertas, after the three and four-point shots.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Scola is such an underrated basketball player for what he can do. He’s one of the most consistent players that provide that offense you need. I’ve had a lot of respect for him ever since the time I watched him play(and push) the Lakers to 7 games. It was always him that gave the Lakers more headaches than Yao Ming. I’ve also heard that Manu wasn’t always the best player on Argentina but Scola.

  19. periong says:

    Serbia eliminated the defending chamption Spain from medal contention in the on-going 2010 FIBA World basketball tournament. Despite the big plays of Spain’s Carlos Navarro, Garbajosa,Rubio & Fernandez, Serb’s Teodosic throw a booming 3pts winning shot in the last 5 seconds of play to win. Another classic game of world basketball.

  20. T says:

    Luis Scola is a BEAST!!! Hands down, and it’s about time he got some NBA recognition! Look out for the Rockets in 2011.

  21. ballin says:

    the dude’s sick. the big fundamental version 2.0

  22. Aleksandar says:

    Scola is an awesome player. And the best part with him is that he can accept and fit any role the coach gives him. He has been both a role player for the argentina squad (when manu was their main offensive force) and now a star. However, the NBA has talented and big guys at his position, and he can’t get too much credit. I think the main problem is he doesn’t get much media attention (altough he is playing great) while in the NBA, cuz the main media attraction in houston is yao, or t-mac before that. He had great numbers during Yao’s absence. Also worth nothing, he doesn’t get that many shots in the NBA, where he is third or sometimes even forth option on offense. But he is much valuable to any team that has him

  23. bnns says:

    by you, I don’t mean, YOU mr. Smith, you clearly don’t think that way.

    • Zanzabar says:

      So who DOES think that way? The rest of the NBA? Do you mean the subjective ‘you’, meaning ‘one would have to be fool to think that way?”

  24. bnns says:

    you must be a fool to think he couldn’t put up numbers like these in the nba if the whole team was built around him and was playing for him. and what’s even more stupid is comparing numbers in international game and in the nba, the game is totally different. international game is way more thoughtful and smart than in the NBA where almost everything relies on strength, athleticism, speed (except on those teams who actually win championships). there are LOADS of mediocre players in the Euroleague who would be just as good at being mediocre in NBA, they probably would be better even without athleticism they would have something which should matter more – Basketball IQ, which most in the NBA lack.

    • Jake says:

      You ever played with em?

      • Jake says:

        Plus, I hate to break it to ya but if basketball IQ was the the number one skill required for basketball then the coaches would be the ones playing. Basketball is a sport played by athletes and you don’t get anywhere if you don’t have strength athleticism and speed.

      • Fred says:

        i agree with you…its not about the IQ…
        its whether you can execute that IQ…
        which NBA players can becuz they are as a whole, more athletic than euro players
        no disrespect, but NBA is NBA for a reason,
        they are stars in the eyes of even euro players for a reason.
        bnns must be quite ignorant to think euro players have better IQ
        its just two slightly different games, euro game are bit more crowded becuz the court isnt as big,
        they play a lot more zone becuz they r physically less gifted,
        and they play less minutes…
        but still, id much rather pay for an NBA game than a euro game…

  25. zzanzabar says:

    If there were 2 basketballs on the court or a ‘no camping’ zone like in international play they yes, Scola and a host of others would get their just due, but there aren’t. Having only one rock to share with teammates makes a BIG difference when you have a lot of talented scorers on your team (as Miami will soon find out). Scola is a beast…in international play, and could be one in the NBA if he was fed constantly and treated like a 30pt per night threat by both his opponents AND his teammates. And you are right Sekou, the great international players that the NBA already have are not really perceived by the fans as foreign players, they just seem to be ‘adopted’ by their home teams as part of their respective ‘home town’.

    Also many international players usually don’t get the benefit of being followed in their pre-NBA careers (unless they attend college in the USA), so their faces and histories are not as well known (Ricky Robio is the rear exception). But the bottom line is ALWAYS the work any player is willing to put in, no matter where he (or she) is from, and the luck of the draw (Gasol was good in Minn, but became ‘great’ with the Lakers, for example).