Corporate Knowledge: August 3, 2012 – On big men, Olympics, and Nando De Colo
- “Haddadi’s defensive game is a little bit rough around the edges. He’s got size and talent, but as with many of the players we’ve been covering recently, his decreased mobility makes it hard for him to cover guys with serious NBA quickness. In particular, Haddadi gets tired covering teams that run the pick and roll into the ground, which made him doubly ineffective last season against San Antonio.”
-Aaron McGuire, Gothic Ginobili
From the early to mid portions of Tim Duncan’s championship career the San Antonio Spurs displayed a dominant defense predicated around funneling ball handlers into two seven-foot shot blockers. A quite effective strategy when you have an MVP version of Duncan, even more so when you pair him with David Robinson.
To some, the simple solution then would be to go back to a similar twin shot blocker arrangement. Perhaps that’s why names like Chris Kaman get bandied about so often in our comments section. After all, they’re seven-feet tall! They block shots!
Over at Gothic Ginobili, McGuire—our sometimes stats expert—has taken on the brave task of profiling every legitimate NBA player from last season. I pulled this selection on Haddadi because I’ve seen his name pop up a few times when people discuss possible Spurs targets.
Duncan and Robinson were a unique pairing, not just because their length, but their mobility. After Robinson, an MVP-level Duncan had enough defensive range to cover his frontcourt partner’s lack of mobility or shot blocking enough so that their strengths could shine through.
As McGuire notes, too many NBA big men have trouble defending legitimate NBA quickness. The Spurs, as currently constituted, would love a shot blocker but would probably benefit a lot more from a mobile big man that can disrupt a pick and roll and recover to rollers or shooters.
Last season the Spurs did a commendable job defending the post and preventing shots at the rim. They struggled in pick and roll coverages. Finding a big man with defensive range (the ability to cover ground) should be higher on the priority list than a plodding center merely for the sake of size and an occasional blocked shot.
- “If I think about it selfishly, I don’t care. I am done, almost for sure. But it would be disappointing,” said 35-year-old Ginobili, who is playing in his third Olympics after earning gold at the 2004 Athens Games and a bronze medal in Beijing. “But it would be disappointing. If I was 24 right now, I would be crying in the corner that I wouldn’t have this opportunity in my life.”
-via Larry Fine, Chicago Tribune
As we mentioned earlier today, there is some thought that the NBA and FIBA would partner up to turn the Olympics into a 23-under tournament in favor of having countries’ full national teams compete in a World Cup-style tournament.
Such a tournament would be a joy for all basketball fans. But such audiences were going to watch whichever basketball competition was presented regardless. The Olympics are a much grander stage.
Just as hardcore gymnastics or swimming fans need little incentive to watch their best athletes compete in any setting, a basketball tournament will always find its followers. But the Olympics offer a display of athletic feats to those who would otherwise have no interest in basketball.
There are some Olympic basketball stories that deserve to be placed in context beyond just basketball. Ginobili and the Argentine national team winning gold in Athens is one of them, the Dream Team obviously another. And while a teenaged Ricky Rubio destroying other teenagers holds some interest, watching him hold his own against grown men is downright exciting.
Please, David Stern, don’t ruin these experiences for the rights to control and monopolize profits from international basketball.
- “When we played against France in preparation, I could see in Nando true form for the first time and I love it,” Brown said. “He had swag, he has the game, he has a hardness that reminds me a little younger version of Manu because he plays without fear, he can get up close and he has great confidence in him.”
-Australian head coach and Spurs assistant coach Brett Brown, hat tip to Air Alamo
So obviously Nando De Colo is not, nor will he ever be Manu Ginobili. But it is encouraging for De Colo to display such confidence. He will need it to get through the rookie lumps he is sure to experience next season. For what it’s worth, Brown also compares De Colo a little bit as Dragic as a player. Probably more in style than actual production.
For now De Colo is still a mystery, but a picture is starting to form.
- Nando averages nearly as many turnovers as he does assists, and while those statistics look a bit better from a Per 40 standpoint, those are still numbers that surely surely won’t sit well with Gregg Popovich if the trend continues in San Antonio. Of course, numbers don’t tell the entire story, lest we forget the case of Ricky Rubio, whose Euroleague numbers, including his passing, turned fans into critics before he had even donned his Timberwolves jersey. In the case of De Colo, the numbers certainly don’t show his exceptional vision, passing and pick and roll savvy. One would think that De Colo’s talents, like Rubio, are better suited to the less structured, more wide open play of the NBA.
-Jordan White, Hardwood Paroxysm
White is correct that De Colo’s Euroleague numbers do not necessarily reflect his true value. Though one could hardly expect a similar leap to the one Rubio made. Chances are what we have seen in the Olympics will be a good gauge for what to expect in the NBA, given that the system and roles will be almost identical to what he will play under in San Antonio.