Touch someone else

My eternal thanks to all those inquiring about my well-being in the wake of Arenas's peril. I've said before that this whole USA Basketball cult is hopelessly overblown, and that no player should feel that his reputation rests on what he does or doesn't do for this team. And the news that Hinrich is squeezing Gilbert out of backcourt minutes only underscores this: Coach K has decided that a college-style machine is America's best angle of attack in the international game. I don't even see Our Hero being able to use this as fuel for his inspirational flame, since any who thinks Hinrich is a better basketball player than Arenas must have his head up his ass. Arenas is arguably the Association's best young point guard, while Hinrich only cracks the top five if you start excluding combo-ish indivdiduals. And incidentally, Hinrich's "purity" is vastly overestimated by anyone who feels that he's in the vein of Nash, Kidd or Paul.

Who I'm really pulling for in this roster sweepstakes is none other than the ethereal Joe Johnson, a man whose career thus far has been defined by a hideous eye injury and a contract that triggered an ownership crisis. He's someone whose rep might actually benefit from this experience, largely because few really get how talented and versatile dude is. Johnson is sound and shrewd enough to thrive in this heavily-coached, quasi-NCAA environment while still asserting himself as a star. He'll get minutes if the Coach is actually thinking, and once installed should open and eye or two (if there's anyone watching these games who doesn't already know all this about JJ). I suspect that plenty of people think he's on this team in some kind of complementary capacity; no matter how compromised a version of NBA ball this ends up being, Johnson can make a name for himself if his play compares favorably to, say, Melo's.

Then again, Melo is a fucking demon in international play. Who knows whether this is some kind of ironic anomaly, a sign of his continued improvement, or the cosmic will of God and His gang.


At 8/15/2006 4:07 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

The idea of this team going all NCAA tournament on the world is interesting, especially considering the success Melo had at Syracuse. For some reason his game translates well to NCAA/FIBA play.

This was his quote after the Lithuania game: “Our game plan is to keep the ball moving. We have five guys out there who can score, who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. I don't think we have to take a contested shot,”

If that's really his attitude, how much more "right way" can he be? And considering his success in FIBA play this time around and his NCAA championship, it only highlights Larry Brown's complete incompetence in 2004.

And lastly, do you think NCAA-jockers will reject this USA team because the collective skill of the NBA players eliminates the fluky endings so beloved in the Big Dance?

At 8/15/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger Bret LaGree said...

'Melo's play for this Team USA is another count in the indictment against George Karl as a basketball coach.

I'd also propose that Joe Johnson, rather than Hinrich, had the most to do with Arenas heading home with the international version of tendinitis.

At 8/15/2006 6:40 PM, Blogger Warren said...

Shoals: give it up for Rick Sund and the Sonics. 3 years at 24 million for Wilcox? Not as quick as you wanted, but still a great deal for all sides. The waiting game worked!

At 8/15/2006 8:31 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'm beginning to think that this whole "market value was set with so and so's contract" is total bullshit. we should probably adjust our understanding of each summer's "market" to take into account differences in expendable cap, stupidity of the gm, and whether or not it places undue pressure on a player. yes, nene got more, but probably too much, and no one else would've paid him (or wilcox) that. and he's far more likely to get scapegoated/set up for failure by it.

like maybe the highest contract offered for X type of player is on the outside looking in, or sets the absolutely upper limit, rather than serving as the pseudo-reasonable point of reference. seems like the sonics believe that free agency shouldn't be dictated by a few strokes of despotic whim in some faraway city.

At 8/15/2006 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hinrich being in doesn't have as much to do with his college game as him being white and not trailer trash. International sports are as much about representing your country than they are about winning.

At 8/15/2006 11:06 PM, Anonymous aug said...

The market value with so and so's contract does play some role i believe. Not as much as espn insider will tell you but gooden and wilcox are the same player(i'm exagerating, please don't kill me on this) and they got the same contract. I still don't know why the nuggets love injury prone big men who aren't worth their contract.

Shoals, how quickly did you call BS on the Arenas "injury"? I immediately figured it was a Team USA PR move to help all the players cut save face. Most everyone who has been cut has had some injury or other reason for not being able to stay.

Surely, even the most pure freedarkoists will be able to enjoy the FIBA games, US team or not. Luckily NBATV is broadcasting some non-american games. France v. Argentina this weekend is gonna be a doozy. Not only that but the NBATV show "Basketball Internationale" is the coolest show on earth. It's NBA2Night but for international play. I didn't know so many NBAers left for europe this year. Tony Delk is predicted to be scoring 20ppg in greece this year, and Lonny Baxter is gonna put an already stacked team in spain over the top. I could go on all day, but i've been diving head first into euro and international ball this offseason since it was one of the most boring in recent memory.

One of the few things i'm looking forward to this year besides the return of the manchild, is that more teams are going with unique lineups that involve multi position players. A lot of coaches are going to be able to play with a lot of interesting lineups this year.

At 8/16/2006 1:06 AM, Blogger O.D.B. said...

Shoals: I'm with you on JJ, but he's not getting it done. Look at the stats: he's getting the minutes but isn't putting much up and just watching him out there he looks like the walk-on, and while we all know he should thrive in that role, he looks more lost than anything. As much as you don't like the 'International Game' jargon, Johnson is, theoretically, ideal for the IG (is that better?). But in terms of what he's putting up per minute,
they could do w/out him.

At 8/16/2006 6:27 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

24mil/3years for Wilcox - calculated gamble, two-year test-phase, trade value in the third year. 24mil/3years for Gooden - just plain stupid.

At 8/16/2006 8:18 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

maybe it's the carolina blue blinders again, but i feel the need to defend george karl and kirk hinrich. first, even melo will tell you that karl has helped his game. do you really think melo's flourishing now (and for the second halfo of last season) in spite of karl's coaching and not because of it? george has got his issues, but he can coach, and he can reach (most) players.

as for hinrich (who i support since he's a roy williams guy and because he seems like a good dude), name me five better point guards under the age of 25. he's got great size (6-3, long arms), quickness, jumper, handles, and he plays smart, but not without some style and flair. since billups and kidd are out this summer, i can't think of a better american point guard not named chris paul.

wv: rwkuna = roy williams kansas university not available

At 8/16/2006 8:20 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

actually, raymond felton might be a better american point guard under 25. if you think that's the carolina blue blinders again, wait until this season.

At 8/16/2006 9:14 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you seem to be forgetting my patron saint in that statement. though i would take felton over hinrich any day; he deserves to be #3 on the list.

have you looked at hinrich's fg%? if he ever took the court in blackface, he would immediately get downgraded. or tarred and feathered, if that's not mixing metaphors.

TRUTH OF GOD: i just ran nba.com's head-to-head comparison for arenas and hinrich and found the following:

PPG: arenas +13.4
RPG: hinrich +.1
APG: hinrich +.2
SPG: arenas +.85
BPG: arenas +.05
FG%: arenas +.029
FT%: arenas +.005
3P%: hinrich +.001
MPG: arenas +5.8

granted arenas plays slightly more, but he's also proven to be clutch as fuck, which hinrich to my knowledge has never done on a regular basis. and there's a chance that were hinrich to log more time, those precious (and precarious) shooting numbers might suffer even further. i know that technically percentages are percentages.

even if he were some sort of offensive machine imprisoned by skiles, you could make the argument that arenas could be a "better" PG if he weren't in a system organized around him looking for shot all the time.

also i am not entirely sure what the function of the "under 25" tag is. don't NBA players supposedly hit their prime around 25?

At 8/16/2006 9:15 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

oh yeah, and arenas is an inch taller, thirty pounds heavier, and so much more athletic you wouldn't believe it.

plus how do we know that hinrich's "smarts" aren't just a function of having played for two masters of the coaching arts?

At 8/16/2006 9:37 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i didn't mean that as an assault on arenas. i agree that arenas is a way better player than hinrich. but, to me, gil's not a point guard, so i didn't even think about him. same thing with iverson. they both have the ability to play the point, but neither one is a pure point. that's what i was thinking of. i guess hinrich isn't really a pure point either, though, which is why chris duhon keeps getting all those minutes.

still, i think hinrich is actually underrated because of his skin color.

the "under 25" is just to keep billups and kidd out of the discussion.

At 8/16/2006 11:29 AM, Anonymous nitro said...

Who's the last cut -- Bowen? I think that someone earlier posted (and perhaps feared) that Bowen might have some sort of "right way" immunity. But I wonder if his defense is worth less here than in the NBA. In the NBA, the stars usually have to expend a huge amount of energy to score 25-35 points (creating shots, driving the lane, taking hits, etc.); that might be one explanation for why their defense (Wade's, for example) is less than stellar. On Team USA, where a bunch of guys are scoring 10-20, it might be easier for the players to utilize their athleticism and play great defense as well.

On a completely separate note, if Team USA needs a long range shooter, I think they should add Salim Stoudamire.

At 8/16/2006 12:14 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Nevermind about Lonny Baxter joining the spanish league. Prison league is more like it after shooting at the white house for some reason.

From all the games i've watched this year, gil is by far the better player, but BR is right in saying that hinrich is underrated. Shoals, you've been the leader of the anti-stats movement on more than one occasion so i'm suprised to see you vaulting gil over kirk in terms of a head to head comparison when gil plays more minutes, and everyone knows that the bulls offensive system isn't about stats. It'll be awhile before you see a bull putting up all star numbers with this team makeup and coach. Also, from what i've seen(in the nba and in the fiba exhibitions) kirk is the superior defender. Gil may be bigger, but kirk seems to play bigger. Also, kirk's team first game from playing with the bulls works a bit better for team usa with a bunch of balanced scorers than gil's me against the world mentality. On the wiz, gil has to win the game or at least help antawn get some buckets. The bulls seem much more like Team USA in the since that it's a balanced team and all about defense and feeding the hot hand and gettting open shots through depth. This is nothing against gil because i think he's on of the best guards in the nba. Much more valuable to any given team in the nba. I think Gil would be killer for team usa, but not as a point guard but as a microwave off the bench.

I like felton's potential as much as the next guy, but i want to see him string more than a few games in a row before i annoint him a top 5 pg. I love his talent, game and style, but i just want to see if he can sustain it.

At 8/16/2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous josh said...

Count me as believing that Hinrich is a better fit for this construction of Team USA then Arenas. I also believe that Arenas is the 3rd best player right now on Team USA behind Wade and James.

Arenas's problem is that his skills are duplicated by Wade and James in that all 3 are not natural PGs but can play the point if needed. Coach K seems committed to finding two pure PGs to run the offense. And behind Paul, I don't see a better choice available then Hinrich.

I'd keep Bowen and ax Antawn. Bowen has a ton of experience guarding Manu in practice, which might come in handy when we play Argentina.

At 8/16/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous josh said...

One other point:

Hinrich was the only guy I saw all year who was able to stick with Wade and give him trouble.

At 8/16/2006 1:02 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

there is no way hinrich belongs on this team instead of arenas. no way.

I’ve watched all the televised games thus far, and two lineup combinations appeared particularly unstoppable:

1) carmelo and anybody. the standout by a long shot, in my opinion, which I found surprising. (and sportscenter always leads off with lebron's statline, for some reason.)

2) A backcourt of wade and arenas. together these guys killed foreign guards, as in completely taking them apart on both sides of the floor. even though neither of these guys are "pure" position players, they seemed to mesh in an inside-outside style that zone defenses could not even begin to deal with.

i think arenas' value was obvious, and so i believe the injury is genuine. i'll bet a lot of general managers are pretty skittish about their money players participating, and would jump on so much as a hangnail to get them off the team.

but all of this might not matter if kobe comes on board for the olympics.

At 8/16/2006 1:19 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

this team is so good without kobe, it's kind of hard to imagine them with him. they could also use michael redd or another shooter. kyle korver? but, the real problem is getting another big man. they've only got brad miller down low. they could use another big who can d up 7-footers and hit the midrange jumper. it seems like there should be tons of guys like that, but i'm drawing a blank. uh, raef lafrentz?

too bad tim duncan thinks international play "sucks."

At 8/16/2006 1:19 PM, Anonymous aug said...

When did it become arenas or hinrich? I think they would both serve the team very well. I wanted arenas in my starting lineup or possibly 6-7th man. I also want hinrich on that team because his game is perfectly tailored for this style of basketball(no, not being white and the "play the right way" bullshit, but because of his experience on the bulls which is very similar to the team usa). I'm still not sure if Gil's "injury" was a team usa PR move to help the cut players save face considering a lot of the guys who got cut had an excuse. I think ridnour was the only guy who legitimately got cut and even then, everyone said it wasn't his fault because there were too many star guards who had to be on the team. I think dwight howard has to go. His tenacity on the boards really is helpful, but his baby horse antics on offense and inability to make a non- dunk are really too much to overcome when they play the top teams in the knockout rounds.

Team usa is unlike the other teams in the tourney because everyone on their team is a potential 20 ppg scorer. I really believe that gil would serve much better as a 2 guard on this team and hinrich's unselfishness(not from playing "the right way" but from the bulls gameplan) would really help this team stay on track. I wouldn't really trust gil, bron or wade to run this team's offense from the point with all these scorers. I think it has to be kirk, paul, or jj.

I just hope the cut is bowen, howard or battier. They all have their pros and cons, but as long as it's one of them, i'll be ok. I'm just gearing up for the france v. argentina game. However, i am very very dissapointed in senegal leaving off diop mbenga, and i think another nba player. In addition to another former nba player or two both named n'diaye, senegal's 5 best players would've been over 7ft tall. They would almost have to play all of them at once, just for fun.

At 8/16/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger T. said...

aug - just remember that for some reason the USA Basketball folks deem the Olympics to be the big brass ring (and for everyone else, it's the WC) - but Howard might be a ploy to get him experienced enough so he and Amare can hold down the pivot in Beijing in 2 years.

The other reason I'd keep Howard is that there are a lot of bigs out there - and aside from Miller - who else is going to guard the Yao Mings and Gasols of the world? We have no other size.

Based on the televised games so far, I'd keep Battier over Bowen (and not just because of the Rockets/Spurs) - Battier is not quite as good a defender, but he gives you a lot more of everything else. Better offensive player, more hustle, smart as hell.

At 8/16/2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Isn't it a foregone conclusion that Bowen is the next to go? Even the San Antonio Express-News (the most homer-centric paper covering an NBA team)is saying he probably won't make the cut.


Also, it looks like Parker might miss the France-Argentina epic tilt because he jammed a finger while pulling on a teammate's jersey.

At 8/16/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i invoke stats not to prove arenas's greatness, but to prove that there are a lot of misconceptions about what kind of player hinrich is.

At 8/16/2006 7:10 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Just as stats don't prove arenas's greatness, they don't prove what kind of player kirk is either. That bulls team is a different monster from the other teams. It's really hard to define a bulls playler by his stats. I think the bulls ask too much scoring from kirk when i don't think he is meant to be a leading or second leading scorer on his team. None of this really matters though.

Every game i watch, i hate dwyane wade more. If i see him just through his body in the air and flail his arms and legs like he thinks he's reggie miller one more time i'm going to go insane. I pray that coach k benches him once he stops getting those calls in the tourney because the refs and fans there don't care about wade's star power like they do in the nba and even in these exhibition games(since they're all about showing usa talent to the asian country).

I know that howard's size is important, and that's the ONLY reason i would keep him around. However, Yao Ming is the only big man that's going to require a truly big body. Gasol, Varejao, Oberto, and the rest of the bigs in the tourney aren't going to require a true center. The international game is all about bringing the bigs out to open up the lane for the guards. The big guys will be playing 15 ft from the basket(even yao), so bosh, brand, miller and jamison should be able to handle them. I still say howard is a liability on offense. I'm a magic fan and watch him all the time. He still can't pass yet, which is gonna be a huge problem when they make him shoot from 10 ft out or double him in the post.

Also, my god are those korean guards fast. I'm suprised the american players can keep up with them.

Is it me or has the comment section slowed down some? Is it the content of the articles, the nba offseason, lack of exposure on deadspin, espn, and other mainstream sites? Not that it matters, i was just noticing. I assume it's because there is nothing going on now besides international ball and not many people have NBATV.

At 8/16/2006 7:15 PM, Blogger T. said...

I gave Shoals my personal shot of Juwan and Deke at the wall.

But this shot is the best shot of an NBA player at the great wall. Ever.


How did they have a robe that big?

At 8/16/2006 7:57 PM, Blogger Bret LaGree said...

I see no reason to build up Arenas by tearing down Hinrich, especially as no reasonable argument can be made that the latter is a better basketball player than the former. I was quite looking forward to the two sharing a frantic backcourt brimming with basketball desire.

One of the few regular season games I witnessed during the past year's transience was a Chicago/Washington tilt where the two seemed to take great pleasure in playing against each other. The seemed kindred spirits to me, players who combined self-expression with a desire to win, recognized their shared qualties, and drew strength from the worthwhile adversary.

That Colangelo and Coach K (apparently) never saw Arenas as the point guard he is seems to me a separate issue.

At 8/16/2006 7:58 PM, Blogger T. said...

espn reports bowen is the last cut.

At 8/17/2006 2:06 AM, Anonymous jack said...

I get a sick feeling in my gut every time I think about Kobe missing the worlds, no matter how legit his injury, because of the rampant 'right way' fear and loathing that infests the better half of this sport. I can only hope he plays in the Olympics, but if they're cutting Arenas (or more likely, Arenas got fed up with playing for Coach K, who by most accounts is somewhat of an idiot), I can't see why they'd give playing time to Kobe over Lebron or Dwyade.

To be a little more honest, I remember the 2000 Olympics and 2002 worlds fondly because the US teams dug deep for players interested in playing for the US. 2002 was, I believe, the first time I got to see Jermaine O'neal in his budding glory. If things had kept up we could have a backcourt of Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson, subbed by Felton. Nowadays, all the curious players I want to see are playing for the other teams, eg Darko.

At 8/17/2006 3:00 AM, Blogger bobduck said...

Isn't this team the ultimate in players interested in playing for the US?

It seemed like this was the most intensive selection process, designed to acquire the best players that matched up to make the best team. That may not be the most interesting team, but it is what Colangelo could assemble out of willing participants.

Isn't your complaint one indicative of more interest in the US program by established stars vs. the aforementioned "digging deep" necessitated by apathy and ignorance?

At 8/17/2006 9:18 AM, Anonymous Ragtime said...

As was mentioned above, statistical comparison of two players who don't play the same amount of minutes is misleading. I find the per minutes played stats more telling:

2005-2006 reg. season
kirk gil
points per 48 min: 15.9 29.3
assists per 48: 8.3 6.9
assist/TO ratio: 2.7 1.6
rebs per 40: 4.7 4.0
steals per 48: 1.5 2.3
blocks per 48: .34 .36

Both players definitely have their strengths, but that "perception" of Hinrich exists not because he is white and american, but because he is a better passer and turns the ball over less, and these are basketball virtues that "right way" folks put a skewed value on.

At 8/17/2006 9:23 AM, Anonymous ragtime said...

Hmm, the stats didn't show up like I planned...The first number is Hinrich, second is Arenas.

Stats are from NBA.com

At 8/17/2006 10:04 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

fine, so my one foray into stat-dom was murdrously flawed. i never claim to be competent, only enthused.

i probably should've gone with the per 48, but i think these still make the point i forgot about: that stat-wise, arenas isn't that much "less" of a point guard that hinrich. he scores nearly twice as much, and yet compares favorably in every statistical category. if arenas were to take a few less shots a game, his numbers would be almost identical, give or take ten PPG.

and yeah, these are just stats, and i know that marbury has better PG numbers than either of them (barring last season). still, it's useful for me to see just how much of a point guard arenas is statistically, despite the popular (mis?) conception that he's really a 2.

At 8/17/2006 12:41 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

No one was more vocally interested in playing on the US team than Iverson. Dude couldn't even get an invitation to try out.

Colangelo and K can talk as much as they want about looking for the right mix of players and guys who genuinely want to play, but there's a white-sheeted Right Way specter hanging over their decisions.

At 8/17/2006 1:10 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I really don't think it was right way as much as it was iverson isn't good in the international game. He can't get to the lane and get fouled all the time against these zones, and iverson can't really shoot that well. You can't be a volume scorer in these games. Gotta be able to shoot the ball in situations and make it. Sure, these blowouts show otherwise, but wait till the knockout rounds. Brazil, greece, argentina, france and a select few others will not let the iversons of the world go for fouls and shoot 12-30 and win.

I think people are taking fd mantras a bit too seriously. Coach K and the gang are doing a fine job(remember it's not all K in there). This team doesn't have enough time to get a nice flowing offense with chemistry, and bron and wade throwing no looks to a back picking chris bosh. They can't be a real team offensively. Coach K had to work on a full court press, a defensive passing lane system, and a scheme to collapse properly on guys in the lane to create offense off of defense. Defense is the one thing you can make work in a small amount of time. When i play intramural football and basketball with guys in college, we come up a with a good defensive scheme, and get the offense working through chemistry and practice as the season goes on.

I just don't really see how good defense, pressing, not taking bad shots, and no iverson makes this team reek of "right way"(the bad one. yes there is a good right way). I just think this team was about making the best team possible while still retaining some star power for jersey sale and international fan appeal. I think the team is pretty good. I really wish arenas was able to stay because i think his style would be perfect for the international game(not as a pg for team usa though, a 2 guard for US or a point for any other team), but i still think this team is a good mix of right way, style and dominance.

At 8/17/2006 1:35 PM, Blogger bobduck said...

I think that part of the selection commitee's process was to pick younger players that this program could build around. I don't recall if Shaq was invited or not, but that might help explain why Iverson wasn't part of the festivities.

At 8/17/2006 1:42 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...


(after public stating his desire to play and busting his ass on the Olympic team)

At 8/17/2006 2:52 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Shaq had an open invitation if he wanted to join. Shaq understood about the longterm plan and didn't accept. They mainly wanted shaq to join for diplomatic reasons as he's the most internationally lovable guy in the league. Shaq also just signed a shoe deal with a chinese company. The picture of him at the wall was too great. My first thoughts were also how they had a robe that big.

At 8/17/2006 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaq understood that he didn't want to play second fiddle to Kobe.

At 8/18/2006 11:11 AM, Anonymous db said...

iverson is too old for the committee.

and does anyone else think this year's success thus far is more an indictment of larry brown than anyone else? i mean our three captains, with the slight exception of wade, were hardly even a part of his rotation in athens.

most overrated coach of my lifetime by a country mile.

At 8/19/2006 3:55 AM, Blogger "rem" said...

seems Coach K believes too much offense is a bad thing

or maybe he just finds him too showboaty (word..?) for his taste


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