2013 Nike Hoops Summit Pre-Game Notes
For two of the last four years at the Nike Hoops Summit the World Select Team has gotten the better of the United States. That is fairly significant as the World Select Team had previously won only two of the last 11 meetings before this.
Potential Starters for the 16th Annual Nike Hoops Summit:
This is the 16th Annual Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, Oregon. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 7pm EST (4pm local time) Tickets can be purchased for as little as $5 for the game up to tip-off.
This year’s World Select Team is arguably the best they have had in the past five years.
Over the past week they have had seven total practices coming together and jelling as a team behind head coach Roy Rana. For three years now Rana has run the team that consists of the best international basketball players they can find. In that time span the teams are even at 1-1 with the United States with a slight edge 167-164 making this the rubber match for Coach Rana.
The World Team has a few clear advantages in this game, one being size. With Karl Towns Jr. (Kentucky 2014), Joel Embiid (Kansas 2013), and Mouhammadou Jaiteh (France) give the World Team has three trees, but having size and using it are two different conversations.
Just watching Towns Jr. and Embiid in practice it is obvious that they feel more comfortable outside shooting threes. Towns Jr. has a nice stroke and it is a quality weapon, but he has the tendency to drift out and reduce his 7-0 ft (7-3.5 wingspan) down to nothing. When big men play on the perimeter they become, uncoordinated slow guards.
Jaiteh (No. 36 on the Big Board) is the team’s lone true big man that plays in the paint. He is so far ahead of every player in this event physically with his strength and tone that he should be able to move offensive players out of the paint on the defensive end and seal position offensively.
One thing about the three big men is that when they play in the paint they are very effective. Towns Jr. and Embiid have very good instincts defensively and can swoop in to clean up defensive miscues with highlight blocks. Livio Jean-Charles (France) will round out the front-court as a likely starter. He is not an explosive guy that will take over the game. He does nothing to standout, but also limits his mistakes, gets after 50/50 balls, and is a consummate team player.
If those three play in the paint the United States will have no answer for them.
On the offensive side of the ball the World Team will be most effective when they attack the middle. With Dennis Schroder (Germany), Andrew Wiggins (Undecided), and Dante Exum (Undecided) they have athletic equality. Using that athleticism to attack the middle is something that Schroder (No. 61) and Wiggins do especially well, and that the United States happens to defend especially poor.
Wiggins will be the best player on the floor and if the World Team plays their top 7-8 players they should have the advantage in the game.
With Wiggins and Schroder attacking the middle Sergey Karasev (Russia, No. 13) will live in the corner spacing the floor. He is such a good shooter that the defense cannot afford to leave him an inch, because if you do he could get hot in a hurry.
The roster is rounded out with Nikola Ivanovic (Montenegro), Tomas Dimsa (Lithuania), and Gabriel Deck (Argentina). All will play limited minutes with how talented the Top 8 are on this team.
Switch over the United States and it is nearly a 180 of everything above. Half the team arrived later than expected on Thursday giving the team really only one true practice where they scrimmaged hard against a collection of former D1 athletes. Thursday morning the team only had six players and no coach and at night they were all jet-lagged after literally driving from the airport to the gym.
Friday morning was a trip to Saint Mary’s Home For Boys to give back to the community and bring the rock show to the kids.
So that left all the cards, the marbles, and whatever you like to say on the Friday scrimmage that was in-front of hundreds of NBA executives. They looked good in the scrimmage coming out on top by three with four legit quarters of play.
The front-court looked really good behind the play, leadership, and defensive intensity of Bobby Portis (Arkansas). He did a good job as the leader of the defense being very vocal and playing solid interior defense. His compliments also played well, Noah Vonleh (Indiana) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona) both played well on both ends showing their versatility.
With these types of games and tournaments the prospects not rated at the top of the boards always come out with more to play for and that was obvious with the defensive intensity of Hollis-Jefferson.
He was brought in as the “Wiggins Stopper” and is up for the challenge ready to guard the self proclaimed “best player not in the NBA today.” Hollis-Jefferson’s defensive intensity was a breath of fresh air guarding ones, twos, threes, and even fours on switches showing his versatility.
Top 5 recruits Julius Randle (Kentucky) and Aaron Gordon (Arizona) will be key. If they can play inside with the bigs of the international team they this game swing in their favor. Gordon has been terrific playing with his effort and motor, also staying after practice getting shots up for hours.
Randle has moments where he thinks he is a guard bringing the ball up after a rebound and shooting long twos, both are not winning characteristics in this game format.
Last year the United States did not have an advantage at the guard position and this year they improved, but are not that far ahead of the international group. They might even be at a disadvantage again this year.
Though they did not shoot well in practice, the Harrison Twins (Aaron and Andrew) have the ability to get it going from deep. They will both head to Kentucky and feed off of each other as a dynamic backcourt. With that, Kasey Hill (Florida) was the best guard this week for the United States Team. He was in control running the offense, got into the paint with his slippery handle, and showed a good touch from NBA range.
The roster is rounded out with Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame) who will get limited minutes, but is a terrific athlete and defender for the position.
The pendulum of talent is not stuck in America as most basketball fans may think, it swings cyclically from one side to the other and the World Select Team not only has the best player on the court, but might have an equal amount of future NBA talent. This should be a very competitive game with National bragging rights at stake.