Team USA, J.R Smith, Shaun Livingston and Darius Miles evaluations

Team USA is winning the gold. There is no doubt about it. Anyone who tells you different is just trying to avoid a complete embarrassment that would leave US basketball in a crippled state on the international level. The good news is that there is absolutely not chance that this is going to happen. The US has been playing inconsistently throughout portions of games, but still manage to crush opponents in the second half. The Aussie's were just getting excited until the US actually started playing and Kobe dropped 25 to put that one in the bag. The Bucks must have felt great knowing that their $70 million investment, Andrew Bogut, dominated the Team USA big men by netting a whopping 4 points. Good luck on that rebuilding Milwaukee! You traded two great prospects in Yi and Mo Williams and just watched your #1 draft pick, a pick that would be the worst first pick if it weren't for Kwame Brown and Michael Olowakandi, just produce absolutely nothing against top tier NBA competition.

The US team toyed around with Argentina, let them come back to single digits, and then Melo and the rest of Team USA decided that this game was over, and turned the lights out on Argentina's gold medal hopes. The most worrisome thing that Spurs fans, Argentina fans, and Manu Ginobili fans should take out of this game is the fact that Manu has not fully recovered from his ankle injury. The same injury that left him as a non-factor (except one game) in the Conference Finals against the Lakers. Manu leaving in the first quarter was a death blow to Argentina, and everyone knew it.

For Houston fans, Scola's 28 points should be very comforting. I have said it before, that Scola is a rising star in the NBA, and his production can only move upward. He did it all against the best players in the world, and the best team in basketball since the Dream Team. Scola and the Rockets have a very bright future, and who knows what the limit is for his talent.

Prediction for USA vs Spain: A huge win for the United States. The US crushed Spain in their first outing, and the Spanish team can't do much about it except trying to limit paint points and force jump shots. Spain will finish with silver and the US will win their first championship in an international tournament since Sydney in 2000 and reclaim US basketball as the best in the world.

Thoughts on Darius Miles: This signing is bad news for Portland. If Darius plays more than 10 games for the Celtics, the entirety of his contract has to be paid out. Darius is due to make $9 million the next two seasons. Not a good thing for Paul Allen's checkbook. Miles was the third pick in the 2000 draft and many cite him as an example of why high school players should not be allowed to enter the NBA, but he has shown some promise pre-injury. His supposed career ending surgery has made Miles a success story. He will be a dangerous player because he will want to prove that not only can he play for the defending champions, but he was not a draft bust and just needed to be in the right situation at the right time. This is his chance. Before his injury, for the Blazers, he averaged 10.4 pts, 5.2 rebs, and 1.15 blks. Not too bad, but not what a #3 pick should be averaging. The Celtics will be able to use him to try and fill the role of James Posey. Miles has never been a nitty-gritty type of player like Posey, but Miles is a credible offensive threat when he wants to be. He can score, and will cause match-up problems if he plays the 3. At 6'9 and 235lbs, he is a sizable body that can play the post and has a decent mid-range game. It is going to improve the Celtics bench a bit, but not totally fulfill Posey's roll on the team. Overall, good move for the Celtics and Miles. Danny Ainge clearly saw something in those workouts that none of us have access to. Boston fans should not be too worried except he failed his 4th drug test and will have to serve a 10 game suspension before playing in a Celtic uniform. I have posted this video of Miles in a previous post, but it seems relevant again

The best thing for Boston fans to do right now is to be skeptical, and be surprised if/when Miles pans out. Nevertheless, he can only gain from this situation, from a basketball and financial standpoint.

Thoughts on Shawn Livingston: Shaun Livingston is another player coming off of injury. A bad one. If you have not seen this video, I would highly recommend you brace yourself, and even if you have, I would say the same thing to you. I cringe every time I see this.

Livingston was one of the most promising guards in the NBA before his injury. He was expected to elevate the Clippers to the next level. I was not the only LA native who thought that either. When Livingston was at his peak, a lot of people in LA were talking about him. His devastating injury was a dark story in sports. A young and promising point guard who had a supposedly career ending injury on a freak accident. Livingston is on the Lakers summer team to try and make the squad. That will be a very tough job considering the Lakers just signed Sasha Vujacic to a $15 million contract, have Farmar and Fisher at point, and a guy named Kobe Bryant. That is a very crowded back court. I won't say that Coby Karl is a threat, but Coby Karl and the Laker's only draft pick in the second round, Joe Crawford from Kentucky, are trying to make the team, as well as a summer team loaded with former UCLA and USC grads. Point is, it will be competitive. When you sustain an injury like Livingston, NBA teams are reluctant to pull the trigger because of the uncertainty of how that player will bounce back. The Clippers had reportedly offered him a one year deal, but he declined. Now Clipper fans are screaming about the loyalty, but there is not much loyalty in a one year deal. The Suns and Nuggets have shown interest, but the Lakers appear to be Livingston's first choice. Livingston has been working out in Chicago with legendary trainer David Thorpe which is a great sign. The Lakers are in no need of a point guard, but it would not hurt to take a look at Livingston and possibly sign him. If Livingston plays well, one of the Laker guards (not Kobe, obviously, and probably not Fisher), could be on the trading block come February. Nothing like a little overload in a position to spur some competition and elevate everyone else's play. It is worth a shot.

Thoughts on J.R Smith: I have gone on a rant about J.R Smith and how he would flourish in a veteran environment. Unfortunately, Denver is not that place for him. He is seriously one of the most untapped talents in the NBA. Smith is one of those high school players who NBA scouts locked on to and decided that if he could be controlled, he would become a great NBA player. That is all true, except for the fact that George Karl's Nuggets are not a calming influence on Smith. He averaged 12.6 points and shot 40% from 3 point range for the Nuggets. At 22 years old, he still has a long career ahead of him, and if he reaches into his untapped potential, the rest of the league better take notice. I have a tremendous respect for J.R Smith and his game, and I predict that this multi-year deal will be the start of something good for him. This could be the making of a new star.


picture sources: theassociation.blogs.com (first), jamd.com (second), atibaphoto.com (third), sportsillustrated.com,

No comments: