Wednesday, March 01, 2006

AI Gets the Shaft


The invitees to the US Olympic teama training camp have not been solidified yet, but the word is out and the chatter is rampant. My man Dritz brought it up in the previous post where he pondered the exclusion of AI and the snub of Hinrich in favor of Ridnour (mystifying). Consider this the post for all things US Olympic team.

I'll start things off explaining why they are idiots for leaving off Iverson. First, he was the only guy that actually brought it in Greece two years ago. He played with heart and determination and now has Olympic experience as well as a thirst for victory. Not only does that come in handy on a roster, but it is also a nice way to reward someone for actually caring. Coming off a Winter Olympics that saw freaks like Bodie Miller talk about how they didn't even care about winning, I personally don't need any more of that. Give me someone that wants to win.

Here is the bigger issue. After taking enormous heat for screwing up the last roster, the architects of the new team got too far inside their own heads. Yes, we want a roster that features role players, ball handlers, shooters, and defensive stoppers. And yes, Iverson is a tough guy to slot into a lineup. However, they are selecting 22 guys. You can't leave one spot for our best '04 Olympian? You can't think about marketing and presence and the media long enough to realize that this is the one player you can't snub? Idiots. They took seven of the top eight scorers in the league, the only left off is Iverson. It looks personal, feels personal, and when you consider that Gilbert Arenas made the team, what other assumption could one make?

At this point, I don't what you do to fix it the situation, but that was a big mistake.

12 comments:

Jeff Dritz said...

I'll agree with your analysis of Iverson w/ one caveat. Yes, he earned a spot, and he at least should have been given one in the camp. However, he doesn't really fit in with the team play concept they're going for. And he's not the sort of player you can have on your team and leave on the bench, b/c he'd cause a disruption. I'm guessing the committee considered this, and decided to get a jump on the criticism and uproar that would occur later if Iverson didn't make the team out of camp or spent the World Championships sitting on the bench by just dealing with the criticism now. That said, Iverson is wearing down and takes a beating, they should've given him a spot in camp, maybe kept him off the team this summer, or they could've just waited til his game starts to fall off (as it likely will a bit over the next couple years), and then kept him off the Olympic team in 2008 without controversy. He deserved at least a bit of courtesy for being the only one who gave it all during the last Olympics, and he would've provided energy and focus in practice this summer.

Once again, Ridnour over Hinrich? I was glad to see Bill Simmons noted this ridiculousness, as well (after I did, I'd like to point out). Good to see someone respects Hinrich's game, the committee certainly didn't. Ridnour clearly won't make the team, but Hinrich would have a shot, and be useful. Aside from Ridnour, Chris Paul is the only passing point guard they've got, since Gilbert Arenas looks for his own shot too much for a team full of stars at the other positions.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the comments on the other thread about Hinrich. He's a gritty player and a good shooter, but Ridnour is faster and better at driving and dishing. All Team USA needs is a guy that can create for others and by 2008, Ridnour is going to be that guy. He'll be better than Paul or anyone else.

As for Iverson, it looks like he was out to send a message tonight. What a game!

Adam Hoff said...

I'm going to respond in two different posts.

First, Hinrich vs. Ridnour.

I can't believe that this even requires a breakdown. The matchup isn't even close.

Ballhandling - Ridnour probably has better handles, but this isn't the And-One tour. They are pretty even on turnovers, but Hinrich's always seem to be the more innocuous kind, where he'll get stripped and lose the ball in a scrum, or steal the ball, only to step out of bounds, stuff like that. Ridnour's are always back-breakers. Dumb no-look passes that go the other way for dunks. I'll go with a tie here.

Shooting - Not even a question. Ridnour can only make a shot if he shoots like an extra in "Hoosiers," that is, a dead set shot. Hinrich has no Ray Allen to draw attention, no inside presence at all, so he consistently takes extremely tough shots, yet he is shooting the same percentage from the field as Ridnour. Both are good FT shooters, but Hinrich is 10% better from three. Plus, just think of who you would rather kick the ball out to for a big shot. That's what I thought. Big edge to Hinrich.

Defense - Another blowout. Hinrich is an underrated defender. He's not as quick as Ridnour, but his footwork is much better, his effort much, much better, and his strength much, much, much better. Get the idea? Put another way: Hinrich is an above-average defensive player, while Ridnour might be one of the worst in the NBA. Huge edge: Hinrich. (One other thing. Hinrich's only real problem defensively is that he has a hard time with extremely athletic point guards like D-Wade. I think it is safe to say that he's not going to see someone like Wade in the Olympics, meaning that Hinrich would probably wind up being an outstanding defensive player.

Anyway, it's not even close. Hinrich is the heart and soul of the Bulls, while Ridnour is so suspect that the Sonics had to trade for Earl Watson (he of the horrible contract) just to get someone on the team they can play in close games. This selection makes me irrate. In fact, I can't talk about it anymore.

Adam Hoff said...

As for Iverson, yeah, I'd say he sent a message. And the message was this: suck it, Colangelo.

The thing I love about AI is that he's grown up right in front of us. As Tim Legler said during the telecast, six years ago, Iveson would have flipped out and made a huge scene. Now he just swallows his pride, says he still hopes to get an invite, then goes out and destroys the Rockets on national television. On the road. With the flu.

He played with his usual fire and seemed to step up his game defensively. He made all the big shots, all the big plays, and willed the Sixers to a huge victory. Final stats: 40, 10, and 7.

Are those numbers sinking in?

In case they aren't, consider the following:

- It is the first time this season (maybe longer, I didn't want to go back and check) that somebody went for at least 40 points, 10 assists, and 7 boards in a game.

- It is only the third 40/10/7 game of any kind this year. LeBron went for 44 points, 11 boards, and 7 assists on January 29th against the Suns and Wade went for 41 points, 10 boards, and 8 dimes on December 12th against the Wizards. AI makes it three times.

- Iverson's 40 points/10 assists combo was only the fourth of its kind this season. (I mean think about that: you are creating at least 60 points single-handedly.) The others were LeBron with 41/10 against the Heat, and (surprise, surprise), Iverson himself with 40/10 against the Knicks and 42/12 against the Nets.

Good call, Team USA.

Adam Hoff said...

I forgot a 40/10 guy. Even worse, it was pretty recent, so I look like an idiot.

Anyway, gotta give credit where credit is due, so add Joe Johnson's name to the list that previously included only LeBron and AI for his 40 points, 13 dimes against Indiana last week.

Gilbert Fan #1 said...

Dude, quit turning every thread into some sort of statistical analysis. You say you don't like Hollinger because he uses stats too much, yet every post is filled with numbers. You suck!

(Sorry, couldn't resist taking some shots.)

In all seriousness though, why is everyone hating on Arenas? Yes, he takes a ton of shots and isn't a pure point guard, but he is absolutely unstoppable off the dribble, is an active defender, and is one of the best shooters in the league from 20 feet. He will destroy people from the international three point line.

Adam Hoff said...

You are right that Arenas brings some things to the table that are being overlooked. In fact, it isn't completley unrealistic to think that he might play a lot like he did at Arizona, where he hit big threes, locked people down on defense, and really picked his spots to shine. He was playing next to a more ballyhooed point guard in Jason Gardner and shared the spotlight with Michael Wright, Loren Woods, and Richard Jefferson. That was a loaded team and Arenas was often the guy getting the scraps. He led the team in scoring at 16.2 ppg in 2001, but did it mainly in transition and hitting threes on kickouts.

My feeling is that he's been dominating the ball for too long now to be able to revert back to that type of play, but I will grant you that it is definitely possible. And if he can indeed be the "Shawn Marion of guards" (which is what he would be if he could still rack up outstanding stats without needing plays run for him), then he is a great addition, because he is far more athletic and talented than the NBA role players that already play that way.

Adam Hoff said...

While we're here, I suppose its a good time to offer my own 12-man roster for the ideal team to compete in international tournaments. I've encouraged Dritz to do the same, so expect his team to go up sometime today as well. The rules are that we can use any player (not restricted to the 22 invitees) as long as they haven't said that they don't want to play. Here is my roster for the 2006 World Championships (which means no Billups).

PG - Chris Paul
SG - Paul Pierce
SF - LeBron James
PF - Shawn Marion
C - Shaquille O'Neal

6th Man - Dwayne Wade
G - Allen Iverson
G - Joe Johnson
F - Mike Miller
F - Rasheed Wallace
C - Elton Brand
C - Brad Miller

The most controversial pick there is probably Sheed, because he's a lunatic, but I think it would be good to make the other teams afraid of us. Also, he is perfect for international play.

I passed on Amare because of the knee, but it sets up nicely for him to take Shaq's place down the road.

I thought about Wally's World and Kyle Korver as the "sharp shooter" off the bench, but went with Mike Miller instead. He could hit 6 threes a game in an Olympic format.

Iverson is the backup point guard, on the team for his energy, toughness, and leadership. He would be asked to be the microwave off the bench and jump start the offense.

Not sure anything else needs an explanation. Joe Johnson thrived last year as a fourth-option kind of guy and he can drill open threes, so he was a natural inclusion. Brand should be fine at center against international players, but just in case, Brad Miller was added (in place of my boy Hinrich). Even though Miller sucks this year, he is perfect for international play. I thought about Bowen or another lock-down defender, but Johnson can handle that role as well.

Jeff Dritz said...

Here are the "Isiah Thomas, bad idea" picks for the ideal Team USA to (mis)represent the USA at the 2006 World Championships:

Starters:

PG-Stephon Marbury
When you go into a big international tournament, you want somebody w/ international experience in not sharing the ball.
SG-Steve Francis
-In case Marbury starts to get hot, you need another similar player who you can count on to not pass Marbury the ball, and start dogging it when things go bad.
SF-Ruben Patterson
-You need a guy who will play tough D, and knock down shots on the court and teammates off it.
PF-Zach Randolph
-This team wouldn't be complete without a guy about whom his high school coach once said "Every day I look in the newspaper and don't see a story about Zach killing somebody is a good day."
C-Eddy Curry
-In the middle, you need a guy who's a constant health risk and plays with absolutely no intensity. Also, he's slow and plays no D, so he's somewhat perfect for the European game.

Bench:
G-Jamal Crawford
-I didn't think this team had enough "me-first" point guards.
G-Quentin Richardson
-What champion is complete without a lazy chucker?
F-Marcus Fizer
-This guy was an amazing black hole down low. When he was on the Bulls, he would get an entry pass, and his 4 teammates would immediately start heading back to the defensive end, because they knew that once the ball went in there, there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that it was coming out. Unfortunately, it also rarely went in the basket. I'm not sure which of the Quad Cities he's playing in right now, but I'm sure Greyhound runs to wherever Team USA will be practicing this summer.
F-Qyntel Woods
-Because international competition can be downright fierce, and you want someone who knows how to handle himself in a dogfight.
F-Vin Baker
-Do they do sake-bombs in Japan?
C-Jerome James-He's just happy to be there.
C-Chris Anderson-Already has a good knowledge of the Japanese underground rave scene.

Just missed:
Shareef Abdur-Rahim-He looks good on paper, but he's just one of those guys that, when it comes down to it, finds a way to lose.
Sam Cassell-I actually like his game a lot. But, some of the players on those Euro teams can be pretty hideous, and we need to send someone who can match up with them (Calvin Booth and Tyrone Hill were also considered).
Bonzi Wells-Holy hell! How did I leave off Bonzi Wells?

Coach
Larry Brown-duh.

Jeff Dritz said...

Ok, here's my real ideal US team for the 2006 World Championships in Japan:

Starters:

Chris Paul
Dwayne Wade
LeBron James
Elton Brand
Shaq/Amare

Bench:

Paul Pierce
Shawn Marion
Allen Iverson
Joe Johnson
Chris Bosh
Brad Miller
Bruce Bowen

I start Wade ahead of Pierce because Wade is just amazing, but you could go either way, especially with the season Pierce is having. Brand starts ahead of Marion, but it would really depend on matchup. Really, the starting lineup is irrelevant, it's who ends games that matters, and with this group, it'd depend on who was hot at the time. I'm picking Shaq or Amare for the team at center, whichever is healthier at the time.

On the bench, Pierce and Marion are obvious. Iverson still brings a lot of heart and enthusiasm, and he can still shoot. I'd look to him as Paul's backup, though he'd likely be in at the end. He can still drive and dish like nobody's business.

Joe Johnson will provide shooting, as well as good on the ball D. He's also shown improved ball-handling and passing this year, so he fits in quite well. Brad Miller is obvious, as a big man who can shoot. There's talk that his game has declined this year, but his numbers are similar to the last couple seasons, just down a rebound or two but up an assist.
Bosh is already a strong all-around player, and his ability to hit a 15-footer will make him an asset in the international game. Finally, I chose Bowen over Josh Howard as another defensive stopper (along with Joe Johnson) after watching the great job he did covering Dirk last night. He'll be a good matchup defender on Dirk and Manu, probably the two best individual players the US will face (Pau Gasol and Yao aren't bad, either).

Left off:

Kobe Bryant-as incredible an individual scorer as Kobe is, it's actually really easy to leave him off: Nobody wants to play with him, and he doesn't know how to play with anybody.

Kirk Hinrich-I'm biased, but he would really make a good point guard in the international game. He can drive and dish, shoot the 3, and D up tight. He alo will be an affort guy, and he's not afraid to go to the floor. There may be a place for him on the Olympic squad in 2008, but he'll have to compete with Gilbert Arenas, who didn't make the team because he's a kind of Iverson lite, and we really only need one of those.

Rasheed Wallace-Adam's right, his game is perfect for international basketball. However, He's still 'Sheed. I don't want him around refs as terrible as the international ones who botched the most recent Olympics and World Championships, he could cause an international incident.

Adam Hoff said...

Good stuff, Dritz. The best part of your "bad idea jeans" team is that half those guys and the coach are all already property of the Knicks. Incredible!

Here's another idea for a team: "Worst possible collection of players that would somehow to inexpicably well on an Olympic team together."

Here is my squad.

PG - Anthony Johnson. This guy is brutal, but somehow, the Pacers always play better when he is the point guard. Maybe Tinsley is just that bad.

SG - Casey Jacobson. Last I checked, he was patrolling the Euro Leagues. I'm telling you though, he could destroy an Olympic field.

SF - Keith Van Horn. He sucks in the NBA and always will, but he's another guy that will kill in international ball.

PF - Reggie Evans. He can just go grab rebounds all game long.

C - Michael Doleac. The poor, poor, broke, homeless man's Brad Miller.

6th Man - Latrell Sprewell. He's rested and ready to bring the instant scoring off the bench.

B - Quentin Ross. He's like Bruce Bowen, except he can't get any minutes for his team (the Clippers). I've seen him completely lock up Manu though.

B - Blake Stepp. He's a "Stepp" slow in the NBA, but would be perfect for the Olympics.

B - Richie Frahm. See above. Maybe we should make it all Gonzaga players. In fact ...

B - Dan Dickau. There's your backup point guard. And ...

B - Rony Turiaff. Have you seen the energy this guy is bringing to the Lakers? It's alway fun to have a crazy guy on the team. That's four - count em, four! - Zags on the bench.

B - Percy Miller. You know him as Master P. This is for a marketing boost.

B - Travis Outlaw. Just because he actually is really good, its just that nobody knows it yet.

I'm teling you, this team would get a medal.

Jeff Dritz said...

You need to stick Casey Calvary and the ghost of John Stockton on that squad, too.