Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:57 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 6:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
A recent report indicated that USA Basketball is set to announce its preliminary roster for the 2012 London Olympics. The roster reportedly will include members of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team and the 2010 Turkey World Championships team.
Initially, the report indicated that the preliminary roster would be made up of 18 players, however SheridanHoops.com reports that the roster is now 19 players deep with the addition of Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Here's how the reported roster shakes out by position.
Point Guards: Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Shooting Guards: Kobe Bryant, Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade
Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Lamar Odom
Power Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love
Centers: Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard
A few interesting things to note from this roster.
First, veteran point guard Billups is included rather than the younger and more talented Rajon Rondo, who withdrew from the 2010 team after it became clear he was going to be left off of the final roster. Billups is 35 and figures to be one of the seven players cut from what will be the final 12-man roster. What does Rondo's exclusion mean for his Team USA future?
Second, positional versatility and two-way play was clearly valued in this selection process. The inclusion of both Iguodala and Odom over Rudy Gay is a mild surprise but both players complement the likes of James, Durant and Anthony a bit better. Both will also have a tough time squeezing into the final 12. The only way Iguodala gets there is if someone else is injured; Odom, a standout for the 2010 team, could be one of the toughest cuts.
Third, the reported addition of Aldridge creates an intriguing frontcourt logjam, akin to the dilemma that faces Western Conference All-Star team voters. Aldridge, Griffin, Love, Odom and Chandler figure to be in competition for the final two roster spots, with the top-10 seemingly secure. Griffin would seem to be the odds-on favorite for one of those two spots given his combination of on-court skills and immense international marketing potential. If so, the battle for the final spot between the other four talented big men will be heated.
Aldridge can swing between the four and five better than any of the other candidates, but he also has the least Team USA experience, having backed out on the 2010 World Championships team. Aldridge's coach with the Blazers, Nate McMillan, happens to be a Team USA assistant, so that could help.
Love is the best rebounder of the group but his athleticism, even though it's much improved, is not on the same level as the rest of Team USA. Chandler boasts a championship pedigree with the Dallas Mavericks and is the pure defender and long, active big men that could be the centerpiece of an aggressive defensive unit. Odom's versatility and perimeter game creates mismatch opportunities but the wings are likely too crowded on this team to properly utilize his capabilities.
Spain, the reigning European champs, bring both Pau and Marc Gasol to the table. Howard plus any of Team USA's starting power forwards should still have an interior advantage, but choosing the reserve big men will be critical in the event of foul trouble.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:25 pm
By Matt Moore
There are about ten legitimately great point guards in this league, and a crop of upcoming ones. It's a stacked position. But behind point guards, the most often debated position in terms of relative greatness in the league right now is power forward. The West last year was so stacked LaMarcus Aldridge was snubbed from the All-Star game and it was simultaneously an outrage and completely understandable. So anyone claiming they are the best in the league is a bold statement. Coming from Kevin Love? That's chipotle-jalapeno-curry bold.
From ESPN Radio 1500 in Minneapolis:
Who's the best '4' in the league: you or Blake Griffin?via Wolfson: Wolves will offer Kevin Love maximum, but will he take it? | 1500 ESPN Twin Cities – Minnesota Sports News & Opinion (Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild, Gophers).
Now, Kevin Love is the best rebounding power forward. He's the best perimeter shooting power forward. He's probably the most marketable power forward. But the best?
Love is much improved defensively this year under Rick Adelman so far, ranking in the upper half defensively according to Synergy Sports. But both his rotations and man defense suffer from inattention and a lack of physicality. His offensive post work leaves a lot to be desired in temrs of footwork and positioning. This isn't to say that Love's game has to be flawless or that it isn't great on its own, but it's a long way from complete.
Still, Love's right that the approach needs to be him saying he's the best. There's no upside to giving anyone else that title. It may be annoying that overconfidence is so pivotal for pro athletes but it is. For the rest of us, though, we may want to hang on for a bit, no matter how many 30-30 games he drops.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 10:43 am
Edited on: January 8, 2012 3:40 pm
Posted by Royce Young
If I told you a player averaged 20.2 points and 15.9 rebounds per game for a season and then came out of the gates the following one doing even better putting up 26.1 ppg and 14.9 rpg, you'd say that guy is a max player, right?
Which is why there should be zero discussion around Kevin Love's worthiness of a max contract from the Timberwolves. The was a report last week that Love had not been offered an extension from the Wolves yet, but according to 1500 ESPN Radio in Minnesota, the Wolves are preparing to make Love a max contract offer before the Jan. 25 deadline.
"One team source said he would be 'shocked' if a maximum contract offer to Love isn't made by the 11 p.m. deadline on Jan. 25.," the report says.
After that, it's just a question of whether or not Love will accept. You would think pretty much every team would line up for Love's services (he averages at least 25-15 nightly for crying out loud!) and you can see that his game is evolving.
Love told the radio station in an interview that he's not so sure though. At least not yet.
"It's all in my agent's hands," Love said. "I just don't know what I am going to do. I'm happy to be a Timberwolf at this point and happy we're winning games."
Why would Love turn it down? Well, because during his time with the Wolves, he really hasn't had the opportunity to see a path to prosperity. The Wolves have routinely been one of the league's worst teams and if Love hasn't bought into the direction of the franchise, he's not going to re-up to toil away in last place for five more years.
Except finally this season with the additions of Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Derrick Williams, there are actually signs of something happening with the Wolves. It's early and Minnesota just dropped an ugly game to the Cavaliers Saturday, but it doesn't look hopeless. I think you could still say the confidence level in general manager David Kahn is low, but with Rick Adelman coaching and the young pieces on the team, there's reason to believe it could be a worthwhile place to stay.
Love could take the easy way out and go somewhere else. But you know he'd much rather build a winner with the team that drafted him. If he sees something working -- which he should because the Wolves finally appear to be on the right road at least -- there's no reason he won't sign if, or when, the Wolves make that big extension offer.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:13 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:56 pm
By Matt Moore
Take this one with a grain of salt, but the New York Post's Peter Vescey is reporting that Kevin Love has not received an extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and should he not receive one in the next 12 days, prior to January 15th, the All-Star rebound machine will not be signing one, and instead be heavily examining signing his qualifying offer this summer to make him a free agent in 2013.
The Timberwolves and Love have always had a contentious relationship. General Manager David Kahn was very lukewarm on the UCLA forward even when he flashed considerable abilities at both ends of the floor his rookie season. He struggled to get minutes under Kurt Rambis before finally bucking off the chains when he simply became too good to keep down. But Kahn has always maintained that Love is a part of the Timberwolves' future and he's not going anywhere. Why are we skeptical of this?
Because it's incomprehensible.
The Timberwolves-are-a-joke meme is almost dead. Drafting Ricky Rubio looks genius, regardless of the Jonny Flynn pick. He's honestly miles ahead of the pack for rookie of the year after the first week and he's not even starting. Derrick Williams looks good. Darko Milicic is serviceable. This team has been assembled as decently as it can be, considering the near-accidental way it has. Rick Adelman was the best hire they could have made and it's already paid off. Love is an All-Star. He's always said he just wants to win. Rookies never get away from their teams on the first contract if they have any value. The guaranteed money and extra year is just too big.
So we'll wait, and see just how insane this Timberwolves group is. But if history, common sense, and recent trends are any factor, even if you believe the Timberwolves are still a joke, not even they could make this punchline into reality.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 9:58 am
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Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: December 28, 2011 2:12 pm
By Matt Moore
The Lakers get off the schneid, the Heat win by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin, and the Blazers look better than last year. All this and more in Tuesday night's report card.
A: Portland Trail Blazers: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Blazers trounced the Kings in dominant fashion, including holding them to just 14 points in the fourth quarter. There's a lot to like about this Blazers team along with the usual suspects, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews. Mostly, the defense, lead by Gerald Wallace. Wallace was an absolute demon Tuesday night, covering wall-to-wall and making every play you can imagine. The Blazers blocked three shots on one possession at one point, and wound up with eight blocks and six steals. A dominant showing on a night when their guards struggled. Blazers look good early.
A: Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers played so well I'm handing out two A-grades. On the third night of a back-to-back, the Lakers came out at home and put away any talk of their losing streak stretching to 0-3 in the first quarter. The Utah Jazz looked like the worst team in the league Tuesday night, but the Lakers' dominance was great enough to overcome the challenge of a terrible opponent bending the curve. Defense was the key here. Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace were everywhere. Gasol played extremetly strong both at the rim and in space against Al Jefferson. The Jazz were a wreck, but the Lakers steered them there. Great first win for Mike Brown and company.
B: Norris Cole: The Heat rookie was the fourth quarter closer the Big 3 could not, would not be. 20 points for the rook who was aggressive at every turn. Cole not only took the game by the horns and drove the Celtics into the ground to bring back for supper when they made a furious fourth quarter run behind a zone defense, he was pivotal on defense and made good decision making. He would nail a big shot, then fist pump his way to the bench without turning around for Dwyane Wade or LeBron James' approval. So why the B? He was a bit too aggresive at times and still struggles with finishing like all rookies do. Wouldn't want the kid to get too big a head on his shoulders. The kid simply stepped up, did his job, and helped get the win for the Heat when they needed someone to step up and hit the shots. And now everyone gets to ask, "They have MORE talent?"
C: Boston's comeback: Great adjustment by Boston coach Doc Rivers to go to the zone, which the Heat will now be seeing in every game for the remainder of the season. That, combined with some great shooting, particularly from Keyon Dooling, helped the Celtics bring the Heat to the knife's edge before Cole turned it around on them. The Celtics made the push they needed to, and showed why they are still dangerous. So why the C? They lost, are 0-2, with two losses to teams they are likely to encounter in the playoffs. It was a good comeback effort, but ultimeately, it wasn't enough, and you have to wonder if it would have been that close had it not gotten so out of hand in the third so as for Erik Spoelstra to start screwing with lineups. The Celtics get a D, but the comeback is a C.
D: Heat's composure: How many times is this team going to melt down in the fourth? They had to turn to a rookie to save them late in a key game against arguably their biggest rival. It should never have gotten that close. Oh, and Paul Pierce didn't play. The Heat won, and they played incredibly well in the third, but man alive, they need to learn to close better.
F: Utah Jazz: So, you know, this draft class, it looks great...
Other Notable Grades:
Withdraw: Heat as invulnerable: Best team in the league right now? No question. But after looking like a flying death machine in the third, the Celtics drew blood on Heat before falling to their own mortality.
E For Effort: Kevin Love: 31 points, 20 boards in a three-point loss to the Bucks. Love was a monster and gave it his all in a badly coached game by Terry Porter with Rick Adelman absent due to a death in the family. One complaint? His final shot was either badly drawn up or executed, a pull-up 35-footer a la Kevin Durant in last year's playoffs vs. the Mavericks. But that stat line is part of what we missed during the lockout.
Gold stars: Pau Gasol (5 blocks). LaMarcus Aldridge. Brandon Jennings. Jon Leuer. Chris Bosh. MarShon Brooks. Vlad Radmanovic.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 3:44 pm
By Matt Moore
The Turkish basketball club that had been pursuing a frontcourt running mate for Deron Williams will have to find someone other than Kevin Love. ESPN spoke with Love via text and the Minnesota All-Star confirmed that he is still looking at options overseas.
"I didn't feel it was the right decision for me at this time," Love told ESPN.com.via Kevin Love of Minnesota Timberwolves declines Besiktas' offer - ESPN.
Besiktas signed Deron Williams early in the lockout process, and the results in terms of attendance have not been staggering. Williams admitted recently that attendance hasn't been anywhere near a sellout for the club. Williams is averaging over 20 points and seven assists per game but has also said the transition overseas has been difficult in some ways.
Love was considered an option for Besiktas along with Chicago's Luol Deng in a weird contract in choice of options. It's not know what the offer for Love was, but apparently it wasn't good enough to drag the 30-30 machine over. Besiktas failed after multiple attempts to secure the services of Kobe Bryant this past summer. NTV Spor of Turkey reports Carlos Boozer and Polish center Marcin Gortat are also on Besiktas' wish list.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:41 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 9:10 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Do you support United States President Barack Obama, like professional basketball and have $5,000 sitting around? If so, I know just the event for you.
President Obama is hosting a Washington, D.C. exhibition game featuring some of the NBA's biggest stars on Dec. 12. The only catch? Tickets start in the triple digits, with proceeds from the game going to the Obama Victory Fund to support the President's 2012 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The Obama Classic Basketball Game, announced on BarackObama.com, is expected to feature NBA and WNBA stars past and present.
Please join us in Washington, DC for a game featuring basketball's greatest super stars in support of the Obama Victory Fund.Tickets for the game start at $100 and escalate to $5,000 for courtside seats. The venue is currently listed as "to be announced."
Obama, a huge basketball fan, has said in recent months that the ongoing NBA lockout has left him "heartbroken" and "concerned." Asked recently if he planned to intervene in the NBA's ongoing labor dispute, Obama said that he "wouldn't intercede" because he has "some bigger fish to fry."
I guess putting the still-unemployed players to work fundraising for a president re-election campaign technically counts as frying a bigger fish. The message here: ask not what the President can do for your job, NBA players, ask only what you can do for the President's job.
But, seriously, if this is anything like the Carrier Classic -- a college basketball game played on an aircraft carrier that Obama and his wife attended on Veteran's Day -- then it will be all sorts of awesome.