Gold Medal Grads Going Strong

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You know what they did last summer.

The members of the U.S. National Team came home from the FIBA 2010 World Championship in Turkey with gold medals hanging around their necks.

It turns out that was just the warm up act for this crew. They haven’t slowed down yet, with members of the team going off on a nightly basis and putting together career numbers up and down the roster for their NBA teams.

From Kevin Durant and Kevin Love to Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay, who will be featured on NBA TV’s Fan Night contest tonight (on NBA TV at 8 p.m. ET) when our Hang Time Grizzlies take on the Portland Trail Blazers, the gold-medal grads are still going strong.  Guys are having career years and doing things that haven’t been done around the league in decades (Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound effort in a win over the Knicks last week was the NBA’s first such effort in 28 years). A closer look at some of their exploits so far:

Kevin Durant, Thunder: The MVP in Turkey, Durant is working on the same honors this season in Oklahoma City. While his team is adjusting to being the hunted and not the hunter, Durant hasn’t slowed down one bit. He leads the league in scoring (28.4) and remains one of the most impossible defensive assignments in all of basketball.

Rudy Gay, HT Grizzlies: Gay watched Zach Randolph become an All-Star in Memphis last season. Now it’s his turn. He’s been the Grizzlies’ most consistent force this season, piling up careers highs across the board (23.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, .493 percent from the floor and .413 from deep).

Eric Gordon, Clippers: Blake Griffin has garnered most of the non-Lakers headlines in Los Angeles since the summer, but Gordon is making a statement this season with his work on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging career highs in points (22.9), rebounds (4.7), assists (3.7) and minutes (37.3) in what is shaping up as his breakout season.

Kevin Love, Timberwolves: As if joining Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain in the 30-30 (points and rebounds) club wasn’t enough, Love is averaging career highs in points (18.5) and rebounds (14.3). His rebounding average is the best in the league. His frontcourt tag-team with Michael Beasley gives Timberwolves fans a little hope that things will get better, and soon.

Lamar Odom, Lakers: Has anyone had a better six months than this guy? He collected a second straight ring with the Lakers, snagged his gold medal and showed up for training camp playing as well as he has in years. He’s averaging 15.1  points and a career-high 10.9 rebounds and has become a dependable guy in the triangle offense.

Derrick Rose, Bulls: If there was an award for the most unstoppable player in the league right now, Rose would be on the short list. He’s been a one-man wrecking crew often for the Bulls as they await Carlos Boozer‘s return. Rose is scoring (23.6) and facilitating (9.5 assists), both career highs, as well as he has since he’s been in the league.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: That mohawk he sported in Turkey is gone. But the aggressive and physical parts of his game came back intact. Westbrook has been relentless playing Robin to Durant’s Batman. He had back-to-back 30-point games last week (both Thunder wins) and is averaging career-high 23.6 points while shooting better than he ever has (.452) from the floor.

We’re guessing the folks at USA Basketball won’t have to ask twice when they send out invitations for that next training camp.

50 Comments

  1. bbforafterlife says:

    Neutral stance from Germany:
    First of all, I think all the US players benefitted from playing in Turkey: they had to be fit and eager to play, they learned team basketball again from Coach K and they had just enough rest before the start of the season to be ready to go again.
    Secondly, Kevin Durant was the reason why they won. Why, very simple, defensively Team US was a wall with their athletic abilities, but offensively besides Durant, the rest of the team was very weak. Before you all scream out, take a deep look at the stats and try to remember some different scenes in the games, whenever it was close, it was Durant netting the tie-breaker.
    At the Olympics, Team US will be well advised to bring more scoring option and especially versatile guards. One dimensional players like Rondo do not help them (except one or two “killer” on the defense side).

  2. Vince Visco says:

    Think the players for the “team B” plus players from “team a” should comprise the olympic team. These players have shown that they can adopt as role players when there’s a need to (international competition). These guys, though superstars buy into the systema nd the role that is defined well by coach K.

    PGuards – Chris Paul and Deron Williams (orchestration, leadership and defense) Russel Westbrook (pure agressive D)
    SGuards – Kobe (if body permits him) and Ben Gordon (shown he can play at elite level) and Steph Curry (Shooting)
    SForwards/Power Forwards – Melo (offense, bully , nw found dedication to defense and rebounding plus can play the 4)
    Kevin Durant ( Kobe will commit to D so someone has to score here)
    Blake Griffin (D, athleticism and rebounding)
    Lebron (though I don’t like the guy, but somehow he has to be here)
    Kevin Love (rebounding, passing and just in case someone gets hurt, needs to improve D)
    Lamar Odom (don’t need lebron if he’s playing right)
    Center – Dwight Howard (no questions asked)
    Demarcus Counsins (like the kid, just needs to GROW UP AND GET THAT HEAD ON STRAIGHT AND BE A BETTER PLAYER come 2012)

    ******Plus******

    These players should take the World Championships more seriously because it is a bigger stage for basketball than the olympics..=)

  3. Lakers 3peat says:

    im jus glad to see odom finally playing the way he shoulda been all these years……usually he is very inconsitent, doubles being very spread out thru the year Now he is averaging that …if he keeps this up and we get Bynum back aint no way anybody going beat us….REAL TALK!!!

  4. dricc says:

    well ,
    1 – parker/beaubois
    2 – batum/pietrus
    3 – diaw
    4 – turiaf/seraphin
    5 – noah/mahinmi
    Oh no , sorry , it not for united states looool
    I think rondo should be in team USA . he is playing every day with all famers ! that’s unique , he knows how to play with big scorers .

  5. Ralph says:

    My 2012 USA Team

    G Derrick Rose C Amare Stoudemire
    Chris Paul Dwight Howard
    Deron Williams
    Dwayne Wade
    Kobe Bryant

    F Carmelo Anthony
    Lebron James
    Kevin Durant
    Kevin Love/ Carlos Boozer
    Chris Bosh

    Sorry no Rojon Rondo of course their is availability or injuries but sucked hard during the tryouts and exhibition plus the international FIBA is different than NBA rules

  6. jkidd says:

    why are there people still hoping that the Heat can bounce back after all these? dont you see that this team is a bit overrated? yes they have two great players in D-Wade and LBJ. but as a team, they really arent that good. big three wont take the title this season, maybe ever.. im not convince about the statements saying, that they need time to get to know each other. the big three of the celtics took home the title the same season they first played together. so if the heat’s big three are really good, then they dont need a veeeeery long time to play good together.
    also, durant and westbrook arent the only scoring options for the thunder, they have green who is also great scoring option. if green wasnt in okc, he could be a second option.
    about the list above, good call. though i would prefer k.love rather than lopez. lopez would be too slow for international games.

  7. ariel says:

    Just add decent center and forward for the USA team B and they would be a really tough team in the 2012 Olympics.
    Players to be replaced are:
    Chandler: Hes not doing good in the team.
    Granger: Hes shooting was gone during the competition.
    Billups: Hes good but hes maybe old during that time.
    Rose: Dont get me wrong, Rose is one of the best PG in the league right now but looking back to the games that they had in the FIBA He was not effective during the crucial part of the game, It was Westbrook, Gordon and Curry who were there.

    The rest are good enough to be included in the team for Olympics. Just remember when Coach K made an evaluation about the team A against team B. Superstar against athletic young players. and he chooses the young athletic players for he said ” Less ego would benefit the team”

  8. Goto Guy says:

    Team USA is going to be fun to watch. It’s great to see players of elite status play as a team and one would really appreciate the beauty of basketball.

  9. DeadlyVirus says:

    “RONDO!?!?!??!?!??! averages 15.1 assists and hes not on this list. wow”

    Ummmmmm……..He left the USA team because he couldn’t even make the roster. HINT……HINT……

  10. rhys smith says:

    the only reasonrondo gets 15 assists a game is coz he has 3 hallof famers and noone guards him.hes a good player but insanely overrated. derrikrose willbe the starting PG in london.

    1.d-rose
    2.kobe
    3.lebron
    4.amare….boozer….bosh ????
    5. dwight…joakim

    • todd says:

      joakim would be great but he already declared he wants to play for the french team. and i think rose is great but i dont see him starting over CP3 or deron williams. and john wall might even be on the list by then. but chris bosh has no business being there the way he has been playing, give me kevin love or blake griffin any day over bosh.

  11. tads says:

    The thing is, that these guys spend summer working, training, and playing. While others had holidays. That’s why they are in better form now. But I am afraid that there form can decrease during a season… While rest of the players will reach there top form.

  12. Julien says:

    does anyone know what song that is on the drose fast highlights?? would be appreaciated

  13. Jacob says:

    GO ROSE! GO BULLS!!

  14. Kerem says:

    USA was not impressive last summer, Durant was. I’m quite sure USA wouldnt win the championship without Durant.

  15. Peter says:

    I like the list above. D-wade cannot defend tho. he should take a break and hone his skills overall. He still has untapped potential. Like, better offensive awareness. But wade is still a real good player regardless.

    • Jake says:

      Dwayne Wade can’t defend? You’re ridiculous. He’s been named to the All NBA Defensive 2nd Team 3 TIMES. He’s one of the best shotblocking guards in history, and he’s so quick that he can cover a lot of ground. You should take a brake and hone your basketball knowledge.

  16. rloz says:

    Yeah…they’re not only some of the most talented players in the world, they also had 3 months of extra practice including actual games against the best of the rest of the world. I think they we’re warmed up heading into the season. The same thing happened after the ‘Redeem Team’ won gold. DWade, LeBron, Dwight Howard, Melo, CP3 and Bosh all picked up their games the season after competing with Kobe for the Gold. But Let’s not forget the real secret behind it all….Team USA couldn’t have asked for a better Coach then Coach K!!!!

  17. bob says:

    they all snapped

  18. SB says:

    USA would not have won the competition that Serbia was not stolen in the semifinals ! 😀
    Greetings from the mountainous Balkans, one day I come to L.A.

  19. screenme says:

    RONDO!?!?!??!?!??! averages 15.1 assists and hes not on this list. wow.

    • Jake says:

      Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Derrick Rose could all average 15 assists easily if they never shot a jump shot. Rondo doesn’t have to worry about scoring, but CP3, D-Will and D-Rose are all asked to be the leading scorers and facilitators for their teams. They are more complete players than Rondo.

      • todd says:

        CP3 actually told rondo after a game a few years ago “you should consider yourself lucky to play with all these allstars.” chris paul turned david west and tyson chandler into allstars, imagine how many assists he’d have if you switched him with rondo and CP3 got to feed those future hall of famers in boston. best point guard in the league, with deron williams close behind. and that’s saying alot with all the talent at pg.

  20. screenme says:

    RONDO!?!??!?!?!??!?!

  21. Justin says:

    My mate and I just discussed this exact thing on a bus ride home this afternoon! Yo Sekou, love your blog generally. You should write about whether this uptick is a direct result of being on Team USA (increased swagger, coaching from coach K, feeling the need to live up to national status) or whether the selectors just have an eye for talent that’s on the rise.

    • JakeSsgt says:

      I think it is a combination of all those things. Coach K is one of the best TEAM basketball coaches out there.

  22. DunkaSlam says:

    Tough call for 2012 since there’s still a lot of ball left to be played between now and then. Bosh, the way he’s playing, probably won’t be called. Would Lebron and Wade have enough gas in the tank if they keep going at their current pace? I’m sure the Heat will figure it out eventually but too early to assume the Big Three will all be called up.
    My picks, barring any injuries or drop in performance:

    Guard
    Deron Williams
    Chris Paul
    Derrick Rose
    Dwayne Wade
    Kobe Bryant

    Forwards
    Kevin Durant
    Carmelo Anthony
    Lebron James
    Amare Stoudamire

    Center
    Dwight Howard
    Brook Lopez

    Torn between Carlos Boozer, K. Love and Blake Griffin. John Wall could even take up one of the guard spots as his game gets better! Cheers!

  23. Adrian says:

    I think the section on Kevin Love could uses a little editing. It seems as if this wasn’t even read-through before it was posted. I’m assuming that there was supposed to be a “wasn’t enough” after “As if joining Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain in the 30-30 (points and rebounds) club” and I’m also assuming the he and Michael Beasley gives the T-Wolves fansbase hope, as opposed to “fiving” them hope.

    • Adrian says:

      Is it lame to respond to your own comment? Probably, haha. Apologies if I came off pretentiously with my comment. I was just bored, and as a T-Wolves fan, I thought it only proper that the Kevin Love section was as correct as the rest of the column. But either way, I’m glad to see that my edits uileded positive results! Keep the good work Sekou and gang (assuming that there is a gang of helpers of some kind, perhaps not). Regardless, no offense intended by my nitpickiness, good column.

  24. Mr.Rager says:

    I’m a french student and i love the nba. My favorite team is OKC, I watch OKC’s match even if in France it’s on 2 or 3 AM. I hope that KD will be MVP this year! Westbrook is very good too; Oklahoma can win the play-off this year and I really hope that!

  25. JakeSsgt says:

    I think the plan-b garbage is just that. These guys showed a commitment to TEAM USA. Under Coach K’s tutelage they all improved som much needed aspect of their game. I think Coach K is better than that. If the program he’s running for Team USA can’t see where these guys can take it, they should find someone else to run it. If they have to give in to sponsors and allow the “A-Team” to fill the roster, then why bother asking for comittments? That was the reason for installing Coach K and his chosen staff, to get commitment and consistency. What kind of message does that send to the players who really comitted? Hopefully our “B-Team” gets the opportunity to play for another gold. Shore the middle with some true size (Chandler or maybe Okafor) and what little weakness they showed in Turkey could be fixed. GO SPURS!!

    • todd says:

      i couldnt agree more, those boys earned their spot at the olympics by winning over the summer while all the A team superstars sat out for personal reasons. chris paul was rehabbing an injury, but the rest of the A team didn’t feel the world games were important enough for them to attend. the so called B team will be that much better in 2012 as all of them are maturing as players and with the addition of maybe blake griffin and a john wall would be fun to watch go for the gold. but i’m sure they’ll go with the A team, but if they do i am going to be thoroughly disappointed if chris bosh makes it back instead of kevin love or someone else more deserving.

  26. Beto says:

    durant and westbrook are the only scoring options on the Thunder????
    ur an idiot, they got green and harden that are still working on their games but are reliable and Ibaka is finally stepping

  27. LANDIM says:

    They are great Humble true athletes but THE SAD PART IS THAT THEY WONT BE AT THE OLIMPICS BECAUSE THEY R THE PLAN B FOR US BASKETBALL… Except for Durant and odom no one will be there….. derom williams ,kobe bryant ,lebron ,stoudamire ,howard ,chris paul ,d-wade ,carmelo ,crhis bosh … they will return and cause micheal reed is done… kidd ,prince and bullips are old and chandler wiil not apear on the next one it only leaves 2spots.. durant is obvious choise… and those 2 spots left will be big man ,like lamar and bynun or perkins …but they are the future of this team

    • todd says:

      i wouldn’t bring chris bosh back the way he has been playing. kevin love or especially joakim noah for his defense would be way better picks than bosh.

      • todd says:

        but i just read that noah wants to play for the french team so cancel him. what a fit he would be for the european game though.

    • doug says:

      I think you might put Stephen curry back there because they need a shooter and he´s an up and coming shooter. I believe we would like all the guys you said to be there but hey watch out for these young cats because they are hungry. I think Rondo should be there for his tenacious defense at the point plus he facilitates well. He just can´t shoot.

      • todd says:

        i agree, curry could help them in many ways mainly with his shooting. but i don’t see them going with 4 point guards, and chris paul and deron williams are probably locked in. coach k was in love with derrick rose over the summer as well. so much talent at point guard in the league now, its damn sure fun to watch.

  28. Tasha says:

    I’m happy for these guys that they won the Gold Medal, especially when everyone said they wouldn’t, and are now having career years. Good for them!

  29. tata says:

    Anybody that actually watches Thunder games would realize that Durant and Westbrook are the ONLY scoring options. So it is no wonder that they average 25-30 ppg. Ask LeBron what happens to your scoring average when you actually have teammates that can score. Durant is still great, but his numbers are bloated from playing on the team he is on.

    • Selective Memory says:

      Guess what else negatively affects your scoring? FG% that is the lowest since your rookie year, 3pt FG% that is the worst of your career, career-worst turnovers per game, and career-worst offensive rebounding numbers. And… btw, here are the scoring avg for the top 4 Thunder players: Durant – 28.4 ppg, Westbrook – 23.5 ppg, Green – 18.2 ppg, Ibaka – 12.2 ppg. Let’s take a look at the Heat’s top 4, Wade – 24.7 ppg, James – 22.3 ppg, Bosh – 14.5 ppg, Jones – 10.0 ppg. So… which team has more scoring options? Why don’t you do some research before making such foolish, uninformed comments.

    • todd says:

      durant’s scoring ability in the world games shows that he can score no matter what level of talent he has on his team. and the thunder have plenty of scorers, what they lack is rebounding. but scorers are plentiful.

  30. KillaRific says:

    EDDIE “LOTTERY BUST” CURRY IS LUCKY TO BE IN THE NBA. IF THEY LET HIM ON THE US PRACTICE TEAM, THEY MIGHT AS WELL LET OLOWAKANDI, KWAMIE BROWN, AND MARCUS FIZER ON THE TEAM.

  31. Goto Guy says:

    The members of that team are all doing good, even McGee is doing better than everyone expected. He’s playing with much more energy, Lamar Odom is another guy playing ridiculously good if he continues to play like this the lakers are going to be scary. He’s putting up double doubles almost every game and we’re accustomed to see that only once every few games and when he’s in the mood.

    Not only members of the team are doing well, those who participated in the camp are all doing better now.

    Maybe Eddy Curry can be part of team USA’s camp next time?

  32. Dieuseul says:

    All I can say is that those young players are awesome. they know how to play the game. Specially Kevin Durant. He is the freaking BEST!!
    I want to say thank you very much to Sekou Smith for sharing this article..