Love Rewards Krzyzewski For Going Big

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — After the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team had completed its five-game exhibition schedule, it was pretty clear that playing small was not a good idea. The U.S. won those five games by an average of 26.6 points, but had barely outscored opponents when playing small (without Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love or Anthony Davis on the floor).

Mike Krzyzewski and his staff seemingly took those numbers to heart. In its five pool play games in London, the U.S. played small for only 7.6 minutes per game, down from 14.9 minutes per game in the five exhibitions.

Love was the biggest beneficiary, seeing his minutes increase from 12.0 per game in the exhibitions to 16.5 per game in pool play. And he paid Krzyzewski back for the increased minutes. Not only has Love shot 24-for-36 in London, but the U.S. outscored its opponents 268-147 with Love on the floor. And that plus-121 was the team’s highest mark in pool play.

Overall, the U.S. is a plus-308 in 288 minutes over 10 games with Chandler, Love or Davis on the floor. And the Americans are just a plus-16 in 112 minutes with no bigs in the game.

USA efficiency with or without bigs (exhibitions + pool play)

On floor MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
At least one big 287.8 84.2 136.6 87.0 +49.6 +308
No bigs 112.2 80.7 113.4 103.9 +9.5 +16
Totals 400.0 83.2 130.4 91.7 +38.7 +324

Pace = Possessions per 40 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

The one time that the U.S. played small for almost half the game was the narrow win over Lithuania. And the results were not good. In fact, in three of the five pool-play games, the U.S. was outscored when it played small.

USA small lineups, game by game

Game MIN USA pts Opp pts +/-
7/12 DOM 13.4 37 15 +22
7/16 BRA 15.5 21 25 -4
7/19 GBR 9.2 27 21 +6
7/22 ARG 19.8 30 55 -25
7/24 ESP 16.5 50 31 +19
7/29 FRA 7.2 11 14 -3
7/31 TUN 2.5 4 8 -4
8/2 NGR 2.8 8 5 +3
8/4 LTU 19.9 46 53 -7
8/6 ARG 5.5 20 11 +9

When we looked at the exhibition numbers, the U.S. team’s big men were making a bigger impact offensively. But in London, the defensive impact has been slightly bigger than the offensive impact. In pool play, the U.S. allowed just 88 points per 100 possessions with Chandler, Love or Davis on the floor, but a whopping 117 with no bigs in the game.

The U.S. flourishes when forcing turnovers and getting out on the break, and a small lineup would seemingly allow guys to play faster and more aggressively. But that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the pace has been faster (85.1 possessions per 40 minutes) with Chandler on the floor than with any other player.

USA efficiency with player on floor

Player GP MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Anthony 10 173.8 83.2 124.9 96.7 +28.2 +103
Bryant 10 176.7 82.7 125.1 88.5 +36.6 +135
Chandler 10 125.0 85.1 136.8 84.6 +52.3 +139
Davis 7 71.4 80.4 143.4 93.8 +49.6 +70
Durant 10 249.4 82.6 128.6 92.2 +36.4 +194
Harden 9 101.7 84.5 132.1 86.0 +46.0 +99
Iguodala 10 148.5 83.4 135.8 92.6 +43.2 +128
James 10 239.9 82.6 123.8 95.2 +28.7 +141
Love 10 142.1 84.4 142.4 84.2 +58.2 +179
Paul 10 210.8 82.4 128.0 88.0 +40.0 +178
Westbrook 10 169.4 83.7 129.7 96.3 +33.3 +117
Williams 10 191.4 83.6 130.7 97.0 +33.7 +137


Not surprisingly, Kevin Durant (249.4) and LeBron James (239.9) lead the U.S. in minutes over their 10 games. With the two on the floor together, the team has been dominant, outscoring opponents by 38 points per 100 possessions. But the numbers are much different when Durant and James are paired with a big man than when they’re not.

The pair has actually played the same amount of time with a big on the floor as without one. And the difference is like winning a 40-minute game by 31 points or by 13 points.

USA efficiency with Durant and James on the floor

On the floor MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Chandler 78.2 85.1 135.1 80.6 +54.5 +94
Love 10.6 77.4 157.1 100.0 +57.1 +13
Davis 6.6 88.3 131.3 61.5 +69.7 +13
Chandler, Love or Davis 95.4 84.5 137.1 81.3 +55.8 +120
No bigs 95.9 79.5 114.9 96.4 +18.5 +30
Total 191.3 82.0 126.5 88.7 +37.7 +150

James is the U.S. team’s best player, Durant its leading scorer and Carmelo AnthonyΒ the most potent scorer on a per-minute basis (44.1 points per 40 minutes). But the team is scoring just 115 points per 100 possessions in 72 minutes with the three playing together. Any NBA team would love to be that efficient, but that’s a pretty mediocre number for this squad.

And when that trio has been teamed with a second-unit backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams (fifth lineup below), the U.S. has been especially bad.

USA most-used lineups

1 2 3 4 5 GP MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Bryant Chandler Durant James Paul 8 54.6 87.2 138.0 80.3 +57.7 +73
Anthony Bryant Durant James Paul 9 42.5 77.2 126.3 91.7 +34.6 +24
Anthony Iguodala Love Westbrook Williams 6 24.4 86.7 158.5 79.2 +79.2 +42
Bryant Chandler Durant James Williams 2 15.0 80.2 146.7 76.7 +70.0 +21
Anthony Durant James Westbrook Williams 6 14.7 83.3 75.9 156.3 -80.4 -28
Anthony Bryant Chandler James Paul 3 12.7 75.6 91.7 104.2 -12.5 -3
Durant Iguodala Love Westbrook Williams 5 11.7 78.9 129.2 113.6 +15.5 +6
Durant Iguodala James Westbrook Williams 3 11.5 81.5 117.4 66.7 +50.7 +11
Anthony Durant Love Westbrook Williams 4 10.6 87.1 162.5 50.0 +112.5 +28


Next up for the U.S. is Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Looking beyond that, the Americans will face the winner of what should be a great game between Argentina and Brazil, two teams they’ve seen already.

Thanks to some tight defense and a pair of long 3-pointers by Durant, the U.S. had a nice 12-5 stretch playing small in the third quarter of Monday’s win over Argentina. But overall the numbers show that the best strategy is to keep playing big as much as possible.


  1. Mental1981 says:

    I agree with DURANTS35GIRL that many of their players seem to be holding back. Obviously not Durant or Carmelo, but ESPECIALLY Mamba. Has anyone not noticed that Kobe has shot the ball least of all their starters? It’s true. He averages less shots than any other starter with the exception of maybe Chandler. I feel like Kobe is holding out for his age or for the Lakers, or maybe for Spain. You saw moments of his brilliant play against Nigeria where he shot 100% to score his first 14 or 16 points and that’s what got the team fired up and spiraled them into a record breaking performance. Verdict, USA has played their best ball when Kobe actually showed up. Once Coach K releases his monster, it will be a gruesome scene for the opponents. Just you watch.

  2. durants35girl says:

    OMG the nerve of some people on here, there is a difference between being knowledgeable and convinced and be ignorant and jealous. USA will take it, honestly if anyone opposes any threat yes, it would be Spain with iBLOCKa and Gasols but in all honestly they dont stand a chance like any of the rest. In my opinion there are players who are holding back and you can see it. If you saw how Lebron, Durant, Westbrook, and some others plays during playoffs and finals you would see they can play WAY harder. They are holding back for the big one…they are the best in the world…point blank πŸ˜€

  3. DR says:

    It’s ironic he brings up Lithuania where Love missed like 9 free throws and was all around terrible during the game. It was his worst game, which says alot as he usually plays bad anyways(he lacks defense and athleticism).

  4. USATimes says:

    I enjoy every single game…stay focus, continue to play smart (and as someone else said unselfishly) and the gold is ours!!!! GO USA!!!!!!

  5. booom says:

    Team CHINA will win the GOLD MEDAL. PERIOD.

  6. bestintheworldatwhatido says:

    Spain may have a chance to beat them cos of their bigs pau and marc and ibaka, they have rudy fernandez on the perimeter, calderon playing the point, they can match USA in talent

  7. Retro Silk says:

    I think John Schuhmann is “USA WILL NOT WIN GOLD”. The NBA bloggers have a little competition to see has the most hits per blog average every month. What better way to antagonize more hits than to start it all off with a controversial and moronic comment such as that! He must still be trying to catch up to Sekou Smith and Steve Aschburner from the end of last season. C’mon Jonny knock ’em dead with the number crunching. Show ’em what it means to “GO BIG”. Heh heh!

  8. BigK says:

    Uh USA will win EASILY. No contest.

  9. bhemis says:

    Those numbers are a poor way of showing how valuable love is to this team. His numbers are heightened by getting extended time in the moments where others have broken the game open and teams have already given up. He’s a one side of the court player… the Steve Nash of the power players (minus the power). And regardless of what the numbers say, he’s barely a top ten power forward, if that. I’d take Bosh, Garnett, Josh Smith, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Aldridge, David Lee, Gibson of the Bulls and a couple other players at his position over him.

    • goozdail says:

      hmmm have we been watching the same league? Kevin Love is the best power forward in the NBA right now. Every sports writer says so, even DA. I’ll take DA’s opinion over yours anyday. Bareily a top ten pf? you must be angry at the guy for some reason. I’m not a big fan of Love, but he’s been much better than every guy you mentionned this year

    • chris says:

      u need to study your basketball more love can out score out rebound better than any of those guys and is a better defender than half of them u listed plus he was in the top 10 for mvp this past season

      • DavidAndersen says:

        your right. kevin love is rebounding machine,can shoot three and can score anywhere. The problem is he can’t jump high but its ok..go love..

      • DR says:

        Nah, not really. Love rebounds better cause he’s on a short team that plays no other big men for the sole purpose of inflating Love’s stats. He’s not that good of a scorer or rebounder, if he was his team would win more and he’d be more useful overseas. Timberwolves literally benched Beasley, and shorted Williams because they messed up Love’s stats.

        And everyone on that list except Gibson, and maybe David Lee are far better than Love. And for reference, sports writers are still regular people with opinions. They have nothing that makes their opinion more important than the next man except for the fact that for some reason, someone pays them.

    • NBEATZ says:

      You Must Be Crazy,
      Love is the best offensive PF in the leaque By far, My list of top PF in the game:
      1) Love (I’msorry, 14 RPG 25PPG 3APG the best)
      2) Bosh (Improved defence……. Ya, as a 3rd option 18PPG 8RPG 1.2BPG)
      3) Griffen (Everyone getshung up on his hops,but that willonly take you so far, Defence anyone,
      4) Aldridge (Solid play,nothing really to nit pick about)
      5) Josh Smith (18.5PPG 9RPG 1.5 BPG………….. Not an ALLSTAR……..what)
      6) Dirk (Wont see him in another ALLSTAR game, gut a legend no doubt)
      7) Pau (Yes he is a little older, but are you watching the OLYMPICS)
      8) Garnett (Still got all around game, just with less legs)
      9) Duncan (If Pop would stop babying him up and give him the 30+ min, then maby we would see 18+PPG 10.5+ RPG 2+BPG)
      10) Davis (If he can come in and be a defensive stopper for NO, get 14PPG, 10RPG, 2.5+BPG, then maybe he moves up)

      Jus missed:

      AMARE (Where are you…………………. Hope I see more then 17and 8 as the number 2 option, maybe 20 and 10)
      Andrea Barniani (21PPG…… WOW, but only 5.2RPG for a 7 footer……..come on, not to mention his D)
      Nene (A true PF, but never really got to his FULL potential)
      Booser (Should be a 20 and 10 guy, and should have been for the last 4 years and for the next 3, what a shame)

  10. Joseph_03 says:

    Clearly the first comment is wrong. It’s either the person who made the remark is delusional or just wants to irk every basketball fan.

    The gold medal is for team USA, i’m not even a US citizen and i know that. Every basketball fan knows that, Team USA will most likely win the gold, however its not impossible that they can be beaten. Given the right place, time and circumstances and a little luck everyone can be beaten.Unfortunately beating Team USA on talent and execution alone will not suffice, a big deal of luck will also be needed in order to beat them.

    Odds are the way Team USA is playing now and with that scary game against Lithuania. Team USA has benefited more than their opposing teams, because they know what to avoid now and learned how to play in those type of situations. These is a team of unselfish All-Stars who have very high Basketball IQ and put winning ahead of individual play.

  11. Melo Rules says:

    No matter what, USA is gonna win it all. Melo the potent scorer (44.1 ppg per 40 minutes). He’s got to play more minutes Coach! Put Melo in!

  12. bball says:

    Love had some great rebounding attempts in all games. He was fighting alone and getting rebounds amonst all the opposite team tall players. Cant teach that.
    Also its illogical to voluntarily “go small” in that team, basketball is not just a team game but also a RPG: each one has a role and must live up to that, there is a reason there are centers, pfs, guards and 1s: because every player can excel at one role better than the rest. Players occationally play out of their usual role, like e.g when LBJ plays 3-4 different roles in MIA, but that happens because there isnt really another choice. A balanced team is always better to have as the history of the game shows.

  13. Mike says:

    Reading these posts i have to wonder why are so many hater out there. So far Us team is undefeated and i doubtedif they will. I guess “jealousy” is the perfect word to sum it up. Its good to cheer forr your team but facts and truth can not alter

  14. realballer says:

    @USAWILLNOTWINGOLD stop posting comments that make no sense whatsoever. So Brazil, Russia, Argentina or Spain will beat us? well in that case so could the Bulls, Lakers or Heat… lame right? well that is how ridiculous your comment is.

    Go USA!!! and you… you learn the game my friend!

  15. Iversonfan says:

    USA is by far the most talented and stacked team in the olympics its just a matter of who plays what rolls and if the play to there strengths

  16. sirsparhawk says:

    Also USA has the most gold in the olympics with china being second, as for basketball, all it takes is for 1 bad game to lose but tehre is no doubt that USA is by far the most dominant team.

  17. nbafan says:

    lol so why are we winning every game we played so far? How much do you know about basketball ? Have you played before? doubt it.,


    All of these talks is for not for anything.

    Team USA will lose to either Argentina/Brazil/Russia/Spain.

    Fake Dream Team loses.