Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tayshaun Watch, Game 2


Tayshaun played quite a bit more against the weaker Angola squad, registering seven points, one rebound and one steal. True to form, he played a mistake-free, if unremarkable game.

As for the game itself: it's hard to take too much from the outcome, although a bigger win would have been more assuring against the undersized Angolans. This is the one game in the tournament Team USA had no chance of losing and they played accordingly. No blame there. A few points:

-Perhaps this is too long of a topic to address in bullet points, but this tournament is giving the first glimpse of the player LeBron James could have been if he had gone to, and developed under, a good team with a strong supporting cast. He's been a wrecking ball on offense, defense and transition. He plays off the ball beautifully, is a force in the passing lanes and does a hundred other little things that he can't do for Cleveland, because in Cleveland he has to play 42 minutes and score 30 points for the team to win. In this tournament he looks like he could have been a 22 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 2.5 blocks, 2.5 steals kind of stat-stuffer, a Magic Johnson meets Lawrence Taylor that the NBA has never seen. Instead, it'll probably never happen. Sad. He's still a once-in-a-generation type player, but Olympic LeBron is more fun to watch than the one we see in the Eastern Conference. So far, he's been the best player in the tournament by a lot.

-The team shot 5/21 from three. It wouldn't be surprising to see the numbers bounce back up, regression to the mean and all that, but this is pretty disappointing.

-Kobe was 0/8 from three. The best player in the world was a wreck on offense for the second straight game. Obviously, one has to expect his numbers to bounce back, but between his poor shooting and the occasional unadvised charge into a crowded lane, he's been a real weak spot for Team USA (how unlikely would that sentence have seemed last week?)

Next up is Greece. They haven't played very well recently, but they are the first legit international team that USA will play in official Olympic competition. Expect a solid American victory but don't be stunned by a tight game. If Greece can keep it close, it will be because they outrebound and outshoot the Americans, and keep the gap in transition points somewhat reasonable.

--Sam Weiss

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