One game into the Olympics for the "Redeem Team" (I know, I'm sick of that name too)… and I think the consensus out there is 'not too bad.'
Hey… it's basketball… and we love basketball… so why not break it down, right?
First thing's first: LeBron James is just a beast. That's not breaking news… and yes, it was China… but LeBron was in a different world out there. When the mentioned that he's almost Karl Malone's size… and to see him do what he does on the floor… it's just sick. This isn't the typical Kobe hate that we display when I say this: I'll start my team with LeBron James every day of the week. You can have Kobe.
As for the game. I think we've all seen the same problems: tough shooting from the perimeter, a tendency to get sloppy and showy with a lead, and what seems like the sporadic lack of hunger for rebounding. On the plus side, our defense can lead to a ridiculous alley-oop fest that builds leads in a hurry.
You'd think some of the best shooters in the world would get better if the get to shoot closer. Kelly Dwyer (as always) breaks it down perfectly on BallDon'tLie:
These tall wing players have to think, "line-drive jumper, like I'm shooting off a hard-dribble, or do I put some arc on this chip shot?" every time they get a look. It's something to think about the next time you see Kobe Bryant pull up for the 25-footer when he could easily take another dribble and shoot an open 20-foot three-pointer.
It reminds me of the scene in Castaway… when Tom Hanks sleeps on the floor after being rescued… because that's what he's come to know. These guys are pulling up from NBA range… because that's where they feel comfortable shooting a 3. I think that speak to a much bigger problem with the NBA mid-range game… but I'll save that for another time.
There's also some chatter that Dwyane Wade should start over Carmelo Anthony… because DWade was awesome (he didn't miss) and Melo wasn't (he didn't hit). I say stick with Melo because I'd rather have Wade anchor that 2nd team. Even if Melo goes cold… you can sub for him… or he can do other things. Let Wade come out and set the tone for the second team.
Overall… nice first game. They withstood a fired up Chinese team that has 2 current, 1 former, and 1 soon-to-be nba'ers. They passed, ran and defended with a purpose. The shooting and rebounding needs to be better… but I think this team is different than the teams that have lost in the past.
Next up: Angola… recipient of the famous Charles Barkley elbow.