Monday, September 13, 2010

USA Basketball World Champions

The USA team that went to the 2010 FIBA World Championships had no returning members from the 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning squad. But some players were quite impressive.

Kevin Durant was the story. He shouldered the team's scoring load. We knew that, if left to score while others handled the other aspects of the game, Durant can produce. He is still far from a complete player, but he showed that he could put on a points-producing show for a winning team, which is something new.

Lamar Odom was superb in a supporting role. He shouldn't be the first or second option on a team, but he is at his best when he's allowed to be unheralded. He's a supremely skilled garbage man, not a superstar. He was so good in this tournament.

Chauncey Billups's leadership was invaluable. You could see the younger players always looking over to him when they weren't sure of something, including (and especially) Durant. He still takes some ill-advised shots and is starting to struggle to stay in front of quicker guards, but he's stronger than most guards and always comes up with a big play.

I was thoroughly impressed with Kevin Love and Eric Gordon. Love did so many little things right. Playing for Minnesota and relegated to the bench during last season, it's hard to appreciate what an unsung player he can be. Gordon was a shot maker, which I didn't know. But he didn't over-shoot (like Stephan Curry).

Rudy Gay's poise, particularly when a call went against him, was surprising. Russell Westbrook is extremely athletic, but is a long way from figuring things out. He's not good at running an offense and gambles too much on defense.

All in all, it was a pleasure to watch this team through the tournament.

No comments: