NBA PM: Does Team USA Need a Center?
Does Team USA need a center?
Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard’s back injury will prevent him from competing at the Summer Olympics in London, which means that Knicks center Tyson Chandler is the only man at the position on the depth chart at the moment.
For now, it appears he’s the man to replace Howard in the starting lineup.
“Absolutely,” Wade told the media in Boston on Monday, as quoted by Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. “We watched Tyson, the things that he does, his ability to cover so much on the basketball court, from the three-point line to the rim. He’s phenomenal.
“And especially the style of play in the Olympics is a little different. The style is not necessarily post-up, post-up, post-up. It’s more so of having a big guy down there, someone who can defend, someone who can rebound, someone who can catch and finish. So he brings that to the team.”
As Wade noted, the international game features very few post-ups, but that didn’t stop Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins—who generally plays with his back to the basket—from tossing his name into the discussion on Monday.
While addressing the Kings media, Cousins—a member of the Team USA select team, which is set to practice against the national team in Las Vegas early next month—said he’s not “going there just to practice,” adding that he believes he can “make the that team.” (quotes from the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin)
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo has insisted that the 12-man roster wouldn’t be finalized until much closer to the Olympics. And since Los Angeles Lakers big man Andrew Bynum has already taken his name out of the hat and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip) is nursing an injury, it seems as though Cousins has an outside shot at making the team.
Of course, Team USA has gone into the Olympics with just one legitimate center before. Four years ago Howard was the lone American center and he was backed up by then-Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Bosh.
Obviously America won gold, so the strategy could work again. Kevin Love is currently on the finalist roster, and at 6-10, he could certainly serve as Chandler’s backup, especially considering he rarely posts up and could even spread the floor with his perimeter shooting.
Bosh is also on the finalist roster, as is soon-to-be top-pick Anthony Davis. The former is coming off a lower abdominal strain, so we don’t know what his status will be, but the latter has the athleticism and shot-blocking ability to make a difference in Europe.
There is one major difference between 2008 and 2012, and he went 11-for-11 from the field against the Spurs on Saturday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka is a member of the Spanish national team this time around (he was born in the Republic of the Congo but has been renationalized recently) and that gives the Spaniards an imposing frontcourt that includes Gasol brothers Pau and Marc as well as former Portland Trail Blazers draft pick Victor Claver and Real Madrid power forward Felipe Reyes.
Chandler and Love might be good enough to beat every other team on earth, but Spain is a legitimate contender.
“My expectations are high,” Pau Gasol told FIBA.com. “It will be a tough competition for everyone but I’m looking forward to being in London. My teammates and I will fight for the gold medal. I think that we can win the tournament. We have a lot of talent and everyone will be very motivated to give it their all on the court. We’re afraid of no one.”
This leaves Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski with a bit of a predicament. Do they go in with what they have, or do they add another big?
As things stand, their options would be Al Jefferson or Greg Monroe (neither of whom are much on the defensive end) or perhaps a less-heralded player such as JaVale McGee or DeAndre Jordan. Joakim Noah (editor’s note: Despite being born in New York City, Noah is only cleared to play for France–thanks to “FYI”) and Brook Lopez are each coming off of injuries and Derrick Favors might just be too raw right now to put on that stage.
Winning gold is supposed to be easy for America, but with our options at center dwindling, Coach K and Colangelo may have some tough decisions ahead of them.
Randy Wittman Takes the Reins in Washington
Randy Wittman went on ESPN 980 in Washington on Tuesday morning to discuss his new job, which is remarkably similar to his old job, but with a shorter title.
Unlike some newly named head coaches, Wittman—who recently had the interim tag dropped—doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He doesn’t paint a rosy picture for Wizard fans, even though the team won its last six games of the regular season and eight of its last 10.
When asked if the fact that other teams rested their starters over that stretch could have contributed to Washington’s success, Wittman called it as he saw it.
“There’s some truth to that there’s no question,” he said, as quoted by SportsRadioInterviews.com. “I’m not naïve enough to understand that obviously when we played Miami twice that (Dwyane) Wade and (LeBron) James didn’t play. We ran into a Chicago team that obviously (Derrick) Rose was hurt at that time but they played basically without Rose all year long and was the best record in the NBA.
“We had some very quality wins,” he continued. “We had a Philadelphia team that we played coming in here that was fighting for that eight spot in the playoffs and we beat here. We had Milwaukee who was a game out of the eight spot coming into the last 10 days that was trying to get in that we beat here so you saw enough good things, especially in a situation that this team is in.”
But perhaps the best part of the interviews was the way that Wittman called out franchise cornerstone John Wall for his horrendous shooting (42.3 percent from the field and .071 percent from 3-point range in 2011-2012).
“You guys talk about it every year,” Wittman said. “You’re not fooling me. He’s got to work on his jump shot number one and that’s just not from the standpoint of mechanics or repetition. Obviously that’s very, very big and we’ve already been full fledge into this with John and his understanding of what he has to do and how we are going to go about it and he’s really excited thus far in the five weeks since the season of what he’s been able to do. The other part is confidence. He’s got to have confidence in taking a shot. He can’t lose his confidence if he misses three or four shots. Ray Allen is considered one of the best shooters to ever play the game and you watched him in some of these playoff series and he missed four free throws. You can’t let that affect your confidence. It doesn’t matter if you’re John Wall or Michael Jordan, you can’t play this game without confidence.
“Kevin Seraphin is a perfect example,” Wittman continued, referring to the Wizards’ power forward. “Last year this kid had zero confidence in what he could do on the floor and believing in his talents. This year, when his opportunity came, he was nothing but full of confidence and look what he did so that’s the main thing with John I think is mentally he can’t be like ‘geez I missed another shot.’ Then let that affect parts of his game.”
It’s a solid interview from one of the more honest coaches in the NBA, so definitely give it a listen if you have the time.
Check Out: The New Orleans Hornets and Terrence Jones
The New Orleans Hornets know they’re going to draft Anthony Davis with the first-overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but what are they going to do with the 10th overall pick?
Well, according to a report by John Reid of The New Orleans Times Picayune, the Hornets worked out Davis’ teammate at Kentucky, combo forward Terrence Jones.
It would be interesting, to say the least, if the Hornets were to add two of the country’s biggest stars who also happened to be college teammates.
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