FIBA 2010 World Championships: Team USA Final Grades & Analysis

September 15, 2010

Team USA's gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championships has given the United States an automatic entry into the 2012 Olympics. Although the hassle of qualifying for the Games next summer has been avoided, USA Basketball still will have some concerns heading into 2012. Namely, which players will be on the Olympic roster?

Based on their play in Turkey, some of the "B Team" guys already have earned a spot on the 2012 Olympic team. For others, the prospects are much more dim.

Here are our final grades for the 2010 World Championship team, taking into account each player's individual contribution within his role on the team:

1. Kevin Durant (22.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 55% fg, 91% ft): A+

Often in FIBA play we have seen U.S. superstars play like shadows of themselves due to their inability to adjust to their new role within a new team.

Not so with Durant.

In USA Basketball's hour of need Durant delivered time and again, imposing his will with consistent clutch play. He went 33-38-28 over the tournament's final three games, nailing dagger jumpers, driving to the rim, and rarely forcing shots. Not one of those scoring binges involved garbage-time stat padding, as Durant came through at key moments while games hung in the balance.

Offensively, Durant nullified any zone thrown at the U.S. simply by going one-on-one at the top of the zone and shooting over his shorter perimeter defender. Defensively, he went above the call of duty, playing out of position on the interior when necessary.

A true difference-making, superstar effort by the tournament MVP.

2. Russell Westbrook (9.1 ppg,84% ft, 12 steals): A-

Westbrook was the one player on this team - besides Durant - who could consistently create his own shot and independently generate offense. But where Durant gave defenders fits with his superior length and shooting on the perimeter, Westbrook was unstoppable thanks to his superior first step, speed, and leaping ability.

Similar to Durant, Westbrook proved to be an invaluable zone buster, as he often slashed from the three point line to the rim in one to two dribbles. His aggressive drives led to 25 attempts at the charity stripe, third on the team behind only Durant and Chauncey Billups.

Westbrook fit perfectly into his role as Team USA's scorer, 6th man, and "energy guy" off the pine. Although he played a little out of control at times and committed 16 turnovers, such mistakes were easy to overlook given his ability to play lockdown D and change the tempo of the game.

By the end of the tournament, Westbrook clearly was the best guard on the team.

3. Lamar Odom (7.7 rpg, 7.1 ppg, 6 blocks, 53% fg): B+

Odom was the only big that Coach K completely trusted, as he got all of the crunch time minutes and delivered with big nights on the glass. Although he had his moments of inconsistency during the tourney, Odom played his best in the critical gold medal game with a 15-point, 11-board effort.

Odom unselfishly played out of position at the 5 and more than held his own defensively as Team USA's primary interior presence. Moreover, his mobility allowed the U.S. to effectively defend the arc, as Odom was able to rotate and close out on perimeter shooters.

In addition to his rebounding, Odom proved vital to the U.S. transition offense due to his ability to advance the ball rapidly up the floor with his outlets and superb handles.

4. Eric Gordon (8.6 ppg, 45% 3pt, 8 steals): B

Gordon played less than Chauncey Billups or Derrick Rose, but within his specific role as a scorer off the bench, Gordon was outstanding.

Other than Durant, Gordon was Team USA's most reliable three-point marksman, nailing 19 of 42 treys for a 45% clip. Many of those threes were timely, such as his two against Lithuania in the semifinals. In addition, Gordon was a force when attacking the rim, as his athleticism and strength caused problems for defenses.

5. Derrick Rose (29 assists, 11 steals, 7.2 ppg): B-

Rose started off with a bang, but saw his production tail off in the tournament's latter games. Overall, Rose shot poorly from behind the arc, hitting only 27% of his threes. That prompted teams to sag off of him, causing him to sometimes force things and dribble into traffic.

Despite his 14 turnovers, Rose nevertheless was a solid defender and a fairly steady floor leader. He finished well in transition, pushed the tempo, and executed efficiently in pick-and-rolls. With Rose, the U.S. enjoyed an athletic advantage at the point guard position in every game.

6. Chauncey Billups (85% ft, 9.8 ppg, 11 steals): B-

Billups was the senior leader and second-leading scorer on the team. He was also a steadying influence, leading Team USA's guards with by far the best assist-to-turnover ratio (28:9).

"Mr. Big Shot" delivered in the clutch throughout the tourney, producing some double-digit scoring performances and nailing a key layup against Brazil in Team USA's only nail-biter.

The only downside to his performance was that he struggled at times trying to defend some of the tournament's quicker guards. Offensively, he also took too many rushed threes early in the shot clock, perhaps accounting for his 31% shooting from behind the arc.

7. Rudy Gay (7.0 ppg, 8 blocks, 9 steals): B-

As a player accustomed to getting a high volume of touches in Memphis, Gay adjusted very well to his lesser role as a sub. Gay stayed aggressive and prepared on offense, scoring points on a variety of jumpers and dunks despite having only a limited number of shots.

On defense, Gay was one of Team USA's unsung heroes. He led team in blocks, and embraced the challenge of playing out of position down low at the 4.

8. Kevin Love (4.9 rpg, 5.7 ppg, 57% fg): B-

As the tournament progressed, Love became a rotation regular and the second big man on the depth chart behind Lamar Odom. A true space eater in the paint, Love was excellent on the glass in limited minutes, putting up double-digit rebound numbers in several games.

Love also was an efficient scorer down low, making the most of his few touches.

However, against teams with outstanding outside shooting, Coach K often preferred using other quicker players at the 5 who could rotate to the three point line. With only one rejection during the entire tournament, Love also failed to give the U.S. much of a shotblocking presence inside.

9. Andre Iguodala (58% fg, 16 steals, 4.6 rpg): C+

The athletic Iguodala started every game at the 3 and did all the dirty work for Team USA. He filled the lanes on the break, hustled after loose balls, and was a vital force on the glass for the undersized U.S. squad.

Iguodala unselfishly took on tough defensive assignments on the perimeter, while also helping the bigs down low.

Offensively, however, Iguodala struggled, as he never really found a rhythm for his stroke. Not only did he shoot a woeful 47% from the foul line, but he also turned the ball over 13 times with some shaky decisions.

10. Stephen Curry(37% 3pt, 4 steals, 17 assists): C

As Team USA's purest shooter, Curry helped spread the floor by knocking down 7 of his 19 attempted treys. Curry was effective as a shooting ballhandler off the bench, but was only able to play in short bursts because of his defensive struggles on the ball.

Curry came into the tournament nursing an ankle injury, which perhaps hindered his ability to contain dribble penetration.

11. Tyson Chandler (64% fg, 5 blocks): C

Of Team USA's bigs, Chandler had the least amount of playing time and produced very little offense. Still, in his limited minutes in the rotation he provided the U.S. with its only shot-altering presence at the rim on dribble penetration. Moreover, Chandler was the team's only true 5, and thus, proved to be a defensive asset in the post.

12. Danny Granger: N/A

Granger was the team's 12th man, seeing limited rotation minutes, and much more garbage time. Due to his lack of playing time, no fair grade can be given.

Coach K and Staff: A-

Coach K brought a small team to Turkey, and in doing so, took an unnecessary risk. Based on that alone, the coaching staff suffered a mild downgrade.

Still, it is hard to bash Coach K too much because he ultimately brought home the gold.

His first smart move was getting rid of small, poor-shooting Rajon Rondo, and selecting Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry for the final backcourt spots.

During the elimination round, Coach K had the team well-prepared. Not once did they come out flat, as their defensive intensity and execution was very high throughout the tournament.

Coach K also utilized his personnel wisely, as he cut down his rotation and made sure to keep Kevin Durant on the floor as much as possible.

More importantly, he took a group of young players lacking much familiarity with each other, and molded them into a team with clearly defined roles.

Durant was the obvious star and number one option. Westbrook, Gordon, and Curry were scorers off the bench. Iguodala was the dirty work, "glue guy" who buckled down on D and crashed the glass. Rose and Billups steadied the team in the backcourt and ran the half court sets. Love and Chandler provided defense and rebounding on the second unit. Gay brought his versatility on both ends of the floor. Odom was the team's primary interior presence and starting center.

Tactically, the coaching staff did several smart things. From their emphasis on fast break basketball, to their limited use of zone defenses only on out of bounds plays, the U.S. coaches made sure to take advantage of their team's superior quickness advantage.

When teams would try to zone Team USA, Coach K employed Durant's unique combination of height and outside shooting to drain jumpers over the top of the zone's first defender. As such, Team USA had little trouble dealing with zones.

Finally, the team got better as the tournament progressed. Gone were the reckless lob plays that earlier had produced so many turnovers. By the gold medal game, Team USA was operating as a fundamentally sound unit.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

1 comment:

  1. this is why the Lakers struggled so much against the Thunder in the 1st round. Westbrook & Durant can flat out play.

    Aint no way old man Chauncey gets on the 2012 team


We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...