By: Sam Meyerkopf / @HoopLikeDrazen
“Who?” - Andrew Harrison
That’s what Harrison said when asked post-game on what he thought of Livio Jean-Charles’ game. That one word seemed to speak volumes about how the USA Team prepared for this game and how the World Team prepared. The “who” was the most dominant player on the floor and in a game the World Team won 112-98, Team USA barely ever had a chance to stop Jean-Charles or anyone else on the World Team. The World Team played very unselfish ball (24 assists), stormed on the fast break, and broke the offensive glass (20 offensive rebounds). They played as a true team, feeding off each other and trusting each other every step of the way.
After such a pressure filled game, there were a lot of quick reactions drawn from the Hoop Summit. This has become such a big event with so much NBA people lingering around and so many eyeballs around the world watching, that quick to jump to conclusions can be made. Let’s take a look at some of the overreactions from the week and game that was and see what’s too overactive and what’s spot on.
Dennis Schroeder is one of the quickest players I’ve ever seen!
Schroeder was applauded all week for his blinding quickness and decision-making skills. And after he dissected Team USA on Saturday (18 points and six assists), his quick only looked quicker.
For most that have been following Schroeder, this week seemed more like a culmination than a shocking discovery. He’s been plying his craft at Germany’s top level all year with highly productive results. The big takeaway for this week on him is his ability to run a team and his poise. He understands spacing, pick and roll, and when to attack the defense very well. During the game he had totally control of both sides of the ball from the tip. On offense he attacked open spaces, kicking it out to teammates if USA players helped and going straight to the rim if no defender stepped up. On defense he pestered Andrew Harrison and other USA guards when they got anywhere close to half court with his long wingspan and quick side to side movements.
Because the World Team played so hard in practice and in scrimmages, Schroeder ended up looking better against a worse defensively USA team than he even did in practice. Although he kind of mailed in the fourth quarter, his first half set the tone for the whole game. So remember, the quickness is the first thing you notice but it’s all the intangibles that keep you coming back.
Dante Exum is a point guard, NO! He’s a shooting guard, wait can he play point forward?
There was a lot of discussion all week about what Dante Exum is, where do you peg him? In my estimation, there’s no need to do any pegging. As the youngest guy on the World Team (1995), Exum has plenty of time to snuggle into a position. Right now he just needs to keep developing that wide-ranging skill set.
No one had more fun during the week and no one enjoyed their time in Portland more than Exum. He played his best when operating on the wing, able to just read and attack instead of orchestrating the whole offense. There was one series in the fourth quarter where Exum hit a kick-out corner three, absolutely stuffed the 6’8” high flyer Aaron Gordon on defense, and then drove to the hoop for an acrobatic finish. Finishing with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block encapsulates Exum perfectly, a five-tool player who is just doing everything he can to have an effect on the game. So for now, let Dante be Dante.
Nikola Ivanovic can run an offense but can’t shoot
His shot was flat pretty much all week, the front of the rim started to get sore. But this is a guy starting for an Adriatic League team right now. At times he over-dribbled, tried to create when an opportunity wasn’t there, and had trouble when he got in the paint. But he started to really run the offensive well as the week went on and once he realized his role as a distributor more than anything, his game opened up. Just something needs to be done with that jumper.
Shall aliens invade our planet; Livio Jean-Charles will lead the World into battle
Unselfishness + Hustle = A devastating game performance (27 points and 13 rebounds). He was my favorite player all week long and the game wasn’t an aberration but a progressive performance. After the game he said a lot of it was easy. He was just playing his game. Jean-Charles would run right to the rim and either get a pass or grab an offensive board and go right back up with it. He took one shot outside the paint, a swished mid-range jumper. It’s quiet efficiency and it’s beautiful when it’s properly recognized.
Sergey Karasev isn’t athletic enough for the NBA
The word I’d use to describe Karasev’s full week of hoopage is “veteran”. Everything he did seemed to be in the mold of a seasoned player. He never forced the action if an opportunity wasn’t there, he deceptively was great at hitting cutters, his jump shot was automatic, and his demeanor was serious. If you’re worried about his ability to defend NBA two’s and three’s or you think he won’t be able to go anywhere off the bounce, stop right there. He’s too smart and seasoned to not be effective. There will be some guys Karasev will have trouble defending but he’s so good at knowing where to be, figuring out how to play someone, and working with his teammates that it shouldn’t be a constant problem. He won’t be getting to the basket often in the NBA but he’s so crafty off the dribble and cutting that when he does make his move, you’ll have never seen it coming.
One thing he does need to do: bulk up, his body isn’t ready for consistent NBA contact yet.
Tomas Dimsa is a shooter
No, he’s a hustle attacker who was open quite a few times for shots when the defense keyed on other guys. Dimsa was awesome all week and I’m here to make sure he is properly characterized. He got a call that he made the World Team, jumped on a flight across the world a few days later, got off the plane and played his face off all week. The shooting is nice, but remember him for his hustle, defense, and willingness to get after it.
Mouhammadou Jaiteh can’t score
But he sure as hell can offensive rebound. In a dominating performance by the World Team, Jaiteh was one of a few guys who had a little bit of an off game. He has a developing jumper, basic footwork, and a rock solid frame to get to the rim, but is still is developing his scoring touch. After a week of watching Jaiteh battle it out in the paint, this is a guy I’d want on my team. He frame isn’t just rock solid, it’s bulging with muscle. As he takes the next steps up in his career, expect a down and dirty offensive rebounder who will constantly work for post position. He kept banging the offensive glass all week and was such a threat during the game, that he diverted some attention away from Livio Jean-Charles who was able to feast on the glass while players were trying to box out Jaiteh. While Jaiteh’s game isn’t smooth by any means, his scoring will feed off his aggressiveness and aggressiveness with his frame will always be an asset.
Karl Towns Jr. is the #1 pick of 2015 Draft
A seven footer who has crazy touch out to the three line, smooth post footwork, can finish emphatically around the rim, and is a shot blocking presence. That’ll get anybody’s mouth to start watering. So much skills in such a long frame makes your head spin with potential. Even with Livio Jean-Charles incredible game, no one helped themselves more this week than Towns Jr.
Gabriel Deck doesn’t belong at this level
The beauty in the way this World Team was brought together is the way the parts fit together so well. As Livio Jean-Charles said in the press conference after the game, the chemistry was apparent from the first practice. Skills blended well together and roles were formed quickly for most. But Deck was a guy who struggled to find his role. This is a guy who is used to dominating at his level in Argentina and isn’t really used to playing 10th fiddle. Also, as the only guy who constantly needed a translator, the language barrier seemed to affect his game and aggressiveness. Deck showed flashes of a solid mid-range jumper, wide screen setter, crafty passing ability, and workman like rebounding, but it was only in flashes. He was going up against the best guys in the world at his age and older. Deck’s timid-ness hurt him but you could see the ability is there and this is a guy who we could see in next year’s Hoop Summit too.
Joel Embiid is an athletic speci-MAN
Seven feet tall, 7’5″ wingspan, 240 pounds, been playing basketball for under two years and he can play like that? All Embiid needed to show was that he was competent and with the athleticism on that body, people will be excited. He showed enough to keep that excitement going.
Andrew Wiggins: A team-playing superstar
Believe the hype, drool over his skill set, remark at his willingness to pass, and just enjoy the best prospect in the world right now. This could have easily been the Andrew Wiggins show but he worked within the frame of the offense all week long. And when he did decide to attack, the show was on. This guy is special because he has insane offensive and defensive skills but embodies being a part of the offense, not trying to constantly take it over.