I suppose there's room to discuss Omer Asik, but our season doesn't hinge on how well Asik plays. I was originally pretty high on the idea of Derrick Rose playing for team USA. I figured the comradery alone with future star players might be worthwhile and playing basketball at a high level never hurts anyone.
After watching much of the knock out round in the World's, I'm going to hope the intangible benefits Rose received of playing from his country and building relationships were worth it, because he's going to have to unlearn almost everything he was doing on the court.
No, not because he was playing terribly. Not because he was a train wreck. Rose played the role he was asked to play.
However, he was largely tentative. He brought the ball up the court and made the safe pass over and over again. Every once in awhile he'd overwhelm his opponent with athleticism in the open court, but rarely in the half court. He looked timid when shooting jumpers, and the results were inconsistent, even when well within his range. Opposing teams dared him to shoot by the end of the tournament.
If there's any fear I have after watching Rose at the World's, it's that he's a player who needs to shoot a lot of jumpers to find his range. A guy who's always going to need to put up 18+ shots a game in order to have his mid range game going. On team USA when he was only putting up 5-6 shots per game his jumper was frequently cold.
Now don't that thought very far. It's not time for concern, let alone worry, and God forbid, panic. This isn't an indictment of Rose as a player, nor does it likely translate to anything in terms of the NBA.
The sample size is too small, his role is too different, and the short three point line and trapezoidal lane all combine to create such a different dynamic in terms of spacing that I'm not sure there's much to take away from this from an analytical standpoint.
Also, Derrick played the team game. He played the role coach K asked him to play. When listening to him talk, you don't feel like it's a bunch of cliche speak when he says he just wants to win and do his part. Play his role. Could Rose have done more if unleashed? I believe if coach K told him, "Derrick, you need to score for us to win" that he could have.
However, that didn't happen, and I doubt Derrick cares, nor should he. He's coming home a winner, with a gold, and I believe unlike many athletes, that the winning is all that matters to him. I think the experience from a personal level was awesome for Rose. I'm glad he had the opportunity to win gold. Now he just needs to unlearn everything he did for the past month and get used to being the man again.
Rose wasn't the only Bull in the finals though, for some, it was the first chance to see Omer Asik play against some quality competition in HD rather than on EPSN3's website. Playing against team USA, Asik looked a lot slower than earlier in the tournament. He missed a couple gimmies offensively as well, and I'm pretty sure if Stacey King were watching this game, that he'd have been told to buy a dog at least once.
While Asik had a solid tournament overall, he struggled against team USA, and it certainly wasn't a sign of great things to come. Watching four separate games where Turkey played it's hard to imagine that Semih Erden (heading to the Celtics) isn't the better prospect of the two. His offensive game is so much further ahead, he looks much more athletic on the court while listed as only an inch shorter than Asik.
The one "bright" spot for Asik perhaps is that he's a late to basketball guy who didn't start playing until 16 and has missed significant time due to injuries since. As such, he still has a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of improvement. However, I'm going to agree with Sam Smith who said Asik will initially land third on the depth chart at C behind Kurt Thomas.
All in all, it was fun watching the World's. I can't say I'm swelling with civic pride the way the citizens of many countries would be after winning the gold, but I did quite enjoy the fact that everyone ripped on team USA for not playing FIBA style basketball and relying on athleticism.
Well, it worked. Team USA doesn't have great continuity. They don't have a bunch of players who get to practice together as much and build chemistry. They struggle to get guys to come to the worlds at all.
However, what they did have was tremendous athleticism and the ability to play lock down defense, and they brought it to the opposition every night. They didn't try to play FIBA ball, they played to their strengths, and it worked.
Congratulations on the gold Derrick, congratulations on the Silver Asik. Thank you both for giving me something to watch for the past week while I wait for NBA preseason to kick off.