What I’ve Learned From the FIBA World Championships

Basketball: Dominican Republic at USA

By Jared Alexander

Football season is upon us, and believe me when I say I could not be more excited. My Patriots finally have a defense that does not make me cringe, and I have fully decided to embrace my roots and support my hometown Falcons.

This Seattle team might be my favorite football team to watch play, and Richard Sherman may be the world’s most interesting man. I am interested to see how Peyton Manning bounces back after yet another disappointing postseason. This will be an exciting season, but I’m still focused more on FIBA.

Sorry. I’m taking basketball over football any day out of the week. Sue me. This year’s Team USA is the most interesting team I’ve seen since the disaster in Athens in 2004. After Paul George’s injury and Kevin Durant’s withdrawal, one may wonder who will step up and be the leader of the team.

I know Team USA has enough firepower to easily blow out any team not named Spain, but how will they look doing it? Here are my three takeaways from this summer’s games:

1. Steph Curry is the best shooter of all time.

I write this with all due respect to Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Kyle Korver. The thing that separates Nash and Curry from all other elite shooters is the fact that the majority of their shots come off the dribble.

Anyone who has sniffed a basketball court can tell you it is a huge increase in difficulty attempting a shot off the bounce in contrast to standing still and having your feet set.

I give Curry the edge over Nash based on of his shot volume. This summer has shown me how blistering a shooter he can be, especially when defenses cannot game plan around him, like the NBA teams can.

2. Cleveland should trade Kyrie Irving for Rondo

Yep. This post is full of #unpopularopinionalerts. It is no secret that I believe Kyrie Irving is a tad overrated and have a hard time finding the differences between his game and Stephon Marbury’s.

Rajon Rondo is clearly disgruntled in Boston, and the selection of Marcus Smart could spell his absence. I believe this deal works for a few reasons.

Number one: the Cavaliers already employ two of the best passers in the NBA in James and Love, but the addition of Rondo would give them a now have a third. The Spurs have shown the blueprint of how great passing still wins championships.

Number two: Rondo will not require nearly as many shot attempts as Irving. For all of Irving’s hype, he’s primarily a volume scorer. Rondo will put the ball in hands of more capable scorers, instead ripping an insane crossover, but firing a hideously off balanced shot.

Number three is Rondo’s defense. I do not even have to go into detail about how fantastic of a matador Irving is.

My final and probably biggest point is durability. Sure Rondo is coming off of an ACL tear, but for the majority of his career, he has been a bulldog. Kyrie has played in 51, 59, and 71 games over the last three years. His recent scare in FIBA play just added to these concerns. I would hate for LeBron to escape The Artist Formerly Known As Dwyane Wade’s injury problems, just to adopt Kyrie’s.

3. There is an overwhelming probability that Derrick Rose is washed up

Sorry, but deep in your psyche, you probably know this is true. Let me clear the record by saying I am a huge Rose fan. I have been fervently rooting for him to get 100% healthy so we can really see how for this Bulls team can go.

So my excitement had been through the roof, since all summer I’ve been hearing about how Derrick’s explosion was back. Contrary to what the city of Chicago may believe, I was an advocate for him playing in international competition, because I believe it is the quickest way to get him back accustomed to playing at game speed.

However, after watching these games, I’ve been thinking, “They’re right. His explosion is back. But that’s literally about it.” Rose has looked terrible so far. Like the guy at the gym who only practices dunks, but once the full court game initiates, he’s borderline useless.

It also will not help that this is Joakim Noah’s Chicago Bulls team now, and that these guys are accustomed to playing without him. This is one of the few times when I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

Before I go, here are 10 more unpopular opinions that are probably right…

  1. The Thunder are better with Westbrook as the alpha dog.
  2. The Lakers as we know them are over.
  3. You’re not really an OKC fan. Seriously. What do you know about Oklahoma?
  4. Tim Duncan’s career > Kobe Bryant’s
  5. Andrew Wiggins is probably going to be the next Brandon Rush, instead of T-Mac.
  6. The Sixers’ management might actually be brilliant.
  7. Team USA should be compensated.
  8. Kwahi Leonard is a fantastic player, but not a superstar. Settle down.
  9. Anthony Davis cannot be a top-ten player on a lottery team.
  10. Lance Stephenson’s unpredictability may make him the most “must-watch” player in the league. (Yeah I know. That was a reach.)
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