You know you have got a serious problem when you find yourself glued to France vs. Australia in the opening game of the Olympics. Either I was desperate to procrastinate or I am obsessed with basketball. I’ll stop and watch a street ball game in order to see who can play and who can’t. France was embarrassing. I have rarely seen such poor defense. Australia back cut them to death. The French players showed all their limitations. Parker played very well in the first half but looked tired and slow in the second half and didn’t play very much. He is hitting that wall that presents itself to players as they age. In very small spurts he will show flashes of the dominant player he used to be but he can’t sustain it over the entirety of a game. He has always been dependent on his quickness and the relentless pressure he was able to put on a defense. He’s lost a step and unfortunately, though his shot has improved over the years, he is not a good enough shooter to make up for his decrease in foot speed.
Batum is a nice player but Charlotte will soon be regretting the massive deal they signed with him. He’s naturally passive which is fine for your fifth best player on the court but given his natural abilities he should be a much better. He has all the tools. He’s got length and he can shoot and pass and put the ball on the floor. Mentally I just don’t believe in him. His natural state is to stand around and spot up and he seems almost reluctant to impose his will on a possession. That’s fine when you’re making role player money but not when you’re getting paid like a star.
Diaw did what he does. I love him. He seems to live life the right way (Were I a professional basketball player I too would keep an espresso machine in my locker). As a basketball player though perhaps at this stage of his career a diet might make sense. Would I bother though if I could live his life the way he seems to be able to get away living it? Probably not.
Nando De Colo showed why he was never able to stick in the NBA. He’s a nice player who can’t do anything really well. The backup point guard Huertel seemed similar. He was solid with the ball (he had the classic couple fancy dribble moves bringing the ball up court that look good but don’t really get a dude anywhere they couldn’t get otherwise) and could shoot pretty well but both players are the prototypical European basketball player. Neither is strong enough or athletic enough for the NBA and neither has a skill quite good enough to over that lack of athleticism and more then anything they don’t play tough defense. Comparing them to Dellavedova is interesting because they’ve got to look at Delly and wonder why he was playing basketball on a championship team in the NBA and they’re not (that’s actually not a bad question). The difference is that though Dellavedova is pretty much a spaz, he plays hard and gets shit done out on the court. He’s aggressive and rarely passive and he gets under people’s skin and though everything he does looks terrible he is surprisingly good at getting to his spots. De Colo and Huertel are those guys on the court that everyone is impressed by because they can dribble fancy and have a nice looking shot but they’ll consistently get manhandled and neither will understand why they’re waiting for next.
Bogut looked great but some of that was because France was mysteriously letting anyone on Australia back cut for a dunk or layup anytime they wanted. Patty Mills was aggressive and played well. He’s a great backup in the NBA. He’s a classic shooting guard in a point guard’s body, which works great off the bench when your 2nd unit needs some scoring. Actually he’s a little undersized even for a point guard. If he was a better passer and was more aggressive at getting to the rack he might be able to earn a bigger role on San Antonio but I think that at this point he is what he is. Put him out there and have him be aggressive and put up shots in volume and if it’s working you ride him a bit more and if it’s not you take him out. Baines played well. He did what he does which, much like Dellavedova, is to be aggressive and play a bit ugly but be effective. Beyond that all the role players on Australia looked good because of France’s lack of defensive desire. France will probably still advance because they’re much better then China or Venezuela but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they crapped the bed and got eliminated before the knock out round…