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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Team USA Olympics Report Card

After Team USA went 5-0 during the pre-Olympic exhibition tour, I wrote a report card for SlamOnline. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were the three "A" students. Not surprisingly, they also finished at the top of the class on my Olympics report card as well.

Players are listed in order of minutes played because that statistic provides a hint about Coach Mike Krzyzewski's evaluation. Wade, James, Bryant and Anthony were Team USA's four leading scorers, so I also included their box score statistics in the one and done medal round play (the final three games). It should go without saying--but I'll say it anyway--that it is not meaningful to compare a player's numbers in 40 minute games played under FIBA rules with his numbers in 48 minute games played under NBA rules. A better yardstick is to consider how the top players from the 1992 Dream Team performed. Charles Barkley led the 1992 Dream Team in scoring (18.0 ppg) while shooting .711 from the field. He averaged 4.1 rpg (tied with David Robinson for third on the team) and 2.4 apg. Michael Jordan ranked second in scoring (14.9 ppg), second in assists (4.8 apg), led the team in steals (37) and averaged 2.4 rpg. Jordan shot .451 from the field--worse than any player other than little used Christian Laettner--and just 4-19 (.211) from three point range. Karl Malone ranked third in scoring (13.0 ppg) and tied with Patrick Ewing for the team lead in rebounding (5.3 rpg). Chris Mullin (12.9 ppg) and Clyde Drexler (10.5 ppg) were the other double figure scorers. Scottie Pippen (9.0 ppg) led the team in assists (5.9 apg) and ranked second in steals (23).

The grades listed below represent how well a particular player filled his respective role on the team; obviously, some players had bigger roles than others, so a bench player's "B" does not mean the same thing as a starter's "B." Production when games were close is given a heavier weight than production that took place after the victories were already well in hand.

I recorded on court/off court data throughout the Olympics for five players: Bryant, James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Jason Kidd. These numbers simply indicate how many points Team USA scored and how many points Team USA's opponents scored when a given player was in the game; this data provides a very rudimentary indication of a player's impact but it does not include "game state" information such as which other players were on the court at the same time or how close the score of the game was: production is more significant when it takes place against the toughest opponents in close games, as opposed to statistics that are accumulated against reserves at the end of blowouts.

LeBron James (24.8 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 3.8 apg, 5.3 rpg, 19 steals, eight blocked shots overall; 26.7 mpg, 15 ppg, 2.7 apg, 6.7 rpg, 7 steals, one blocked shot in medal round play)

James led Team USA in steals and blocked shots, ranked second in scoring and assists and shot .602 from the field, including .464 from three point range. The only negatives on his ledger were free throw shooting (.458) and turnovers (a team-high 17). James put up the best overall box score numbers of any player on the team. As Doug Collins noted during several of the telecasts, James played terrific help defense on the back line, blocking shots and getting steals. Not surprisingly, James' minutes went up during medal round play and he continued to post excellent box score numbers.

Team USA outscored the opposition by 154 points overall when James was on the court and they outscored the opposition by 50 points when James was on the court during the medal round games.

Grade: "A"

Kobe Bryant (23.5 mpg, 15.0 ppg, 2.1 apg, 2.8 rpg, nine steals, four blocked shots overall; 28 mpg, 19 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.3 rpg, three steals, three blocked shots in medal round play)

Bryant ranked third on Team USA in scoring, fourth in assists and steals and first in three pointers made. He finished right behind James in turnovers (15) and, like James, did not shoot very well from the free throw line (.583). Bryant shot .462 from the field and .321 from three point range but after his much celebrated 1-15 start from behind the arc in the first two games he shot 16-38 (.421) the rest of the way.

As soon as Bryant joined the team he immediately asked to be assigned the task of guarding the best perimeter player on each opposing team. That was Bryant's primary responsibility for Team USA and he did an excellent job in this regard. He often took a back seat offensively but when the chips were down in the medal round Bryant averaged a team-high 19 ppg while shooting .500 from the field and .375 from three point range. He dominated the fourth quarter of the 118-107 win over Spain in the gold medal game, scoring 13 points and adding two assists in that final stanza.

Team USA came up short in the three previous major FIBA competitions (2004 Olympics, 2006 and 2002 FIBA World Championship) primarily because of a lack of on court leadership, poor defense and the inability or unwillingness of anyone to step up in crucial moments in medal round games. James and Wade each had superb tournaments in the 2008 Olympics--very similar to their performances in the 2006 FIBA World Championship--but the difference this time around was that Bryant provided precisely what Team USA had been missing in the three areas mentioned above.

Team USA outscored the opposition by 134 points overall when Bryant was on the court and they outscored the opposition by 52 points when he was on the court during the medal round games.

Grade: "A"

Chris Paul (21.9 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.6 rpg, 18 steals, 0 blocked shots overall)

Paul led Team USA in assists and free throw percentage (.917), tied for second in steals and he easily had the best assist/turnover ratio (3.67/1). Paul forced a lot of turnovers with his ball pressure but on occasions he let his man get by him off of the dribble, resulting in defensive breakdowns. He padded some of his numbers in the fourth quarters of blowouts but in several games he also provided a nice spark off of the bench to help Team USA build large leads.

Grade: "B+"

Carmelo Anthony (19.1 mpg, 11.5 ppg, .4 apg, 4.3 rpg, eight steals, two blocked shots overall; 22 mpg, 16.3 ppg, .3 apg, 3.3 rpg, two steals, one blocked shot in medal round play)

Anthony ranked fourth on Team USA in scoring and rebounding. He tied for the team lead in fouls committed. Only three players had fewer assists (Bosh, Boozer and Prince). Anthony led Team USA in scoring during the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament and the 2006 FIBA World Championship, so his scoring output in the Olympics has to be considered a major disappointment, particularly in light of his dismal field goal percentage (.422, lower than every other player except Redd). Anthony's .481 two point field goal percentage was also the second lowest on the team and he was the only player among the top seven scorers who did not shoot at least .600 on two point shots. Before the Olympics, Anthony vowed to average 10 rpg and to break the Team USA single game Olympic rebounding record but he never came close to doing either of those things. The main positive for Anthony is that he shot .828 from the free throw line, the one area where Bryant, James and Wade struggled.

Anthony increased his scoring to 16.3 ppg in medal round play but that number is deceptive: he shot .382 from the field in those three games and even though he led Team USA in scoring versus Argentina (21 points) he shot 3-14 from the field in that contest.

Team USA outscored the opposition by 86 points overall when Anthony was on the court and they outscored the opposition by just 25 points when Anthony was on the court during medal round play. Among the five players I tracked, Anthony is the only one who had a negative on court rating for an entire game--and this happened twice: Angola outscored Team USA 46-42 when Anthony was on the court and in the gold medal game Spain outscored Team USA 49-38 when Anthony was on the court. It is no coincidence that Anthony was not in the game for the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter of the gold medal game; throughout the Olympics, Anthony was often on the bench when Team USA made its best runs and when he was in games during such runs it was generally James, Wade and/or Bryant who shouldered most of the load.

Grade: "C-"

Deron Williams (19.0 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.3 rpg, six steals, 0 blocked shots overall)

Williams ranked second on Team USA in free throw percentage (.900) and third in assists. He did a good job of using his size and strength to penetrate opposing defenses. He made a few bad gambles defensively and was sometimes careless with his ballhandling but overall he did a very solid job.

Grade: "B"

Dwyane Wade (18.8 mpg, 16.0 ppg, 1.9 apg, 4.0 rpg, 18 steals, one blocked shot overall; 19.3 mpg, 15.7 ppg, 1.7 apg, 4.7 rpg, six steals, 0 blocked shots in medal round play)

Wade led Team USA in scoring, tied for second in steals and he ranked second in three point shooting percentage (.471) among players who attempted more than two three pointers. Wade shot a blistering .671 from the field overall, trailing only Howard and Bosh among players who attempted at least one shot a game (Kidd shot 6-7 from the field). Wade struggled a bit from the free throw line (.634) and at times made some risky defensive gambles but his overall play was superb. He clearly has healed completely from his injuries and regained--if not increased--his previous athletic ability and explosiveness.

Wade did not start one game; he usually came off of the bench midway through the first quarter to replace Anthony, though sometimes foul trouble altered that rotation. Wade's on court numbers (not his own stats per se, but rather Team USA's scoring margin when he was in the game) benefited from not sharing minutes with Anthony, while Bryant and James' numbers were dragged down a bit in this regard. As a sixth man who played limited minutes, Wade had the advantage of being fresh and from playing against either reserve players or tired starters; after just two minutes of play in the second quarter of Team USA's 92-69 win over Greece, Wade asked to come out of the game because he was totally gassed. None of this diminishes how well Wade played but it goes a long way toward explaining why Wade came off of the bench instead of starting, why he did not play as many minutes as Bryant or James and why people should not be quick to assume that this performance means that Wade will be on the All-NBA First Team this season; in order for Wade to resume being an elite level NBA player he will have to be able to stay healthy and productive while playing 35-plus mpg over the course of an 82 game season.

Team USA outscored the opposition by 161 points overall when Wade was on the court and they outscored the opposition by 48 points when Wade was on the court during the medal round games.

Grade: "A"

Chris Bosh (17.3 mpg, 9.1 ppg, .3 apg, 6.1 rpg, two steals, six blocked shots overall)

Bosh led Team USA in rebounding and field goal percentage (.774) and he ranked second in free throw percentage (.862). He was perhaps the most pleasant surprise; Wade's performance was more a matter of him getting healthy than anything else, but Bosh supplanted Howard as Team USA's most effective big. Bosh not only played very well in the paint at both ends of the court but he also did a great job of helping to defend on the perimeter against screen/roll plays. His emergence relegated Boozer to mop up duty and further reinforced a theme that I emphasized all along, namely that Team USA did not need another big on the roster; USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo was right to bolster the team's size and defensive flexibility on the perimeter, fully realizing that Team USA would only play one traditional big at a time. In terms of FIBA play, Bosh proved to be a better big than Amare Stoudemire, who played in the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament but decided to rest his knees this summer.

Grade: "A"

Dwight Howard (16.1 mpg, 10.9 ppg, .5 apg, 5.8 rpg, five steals, seven blocked shots overall)

Howard ranked second on Team USA in rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage (.745) and fifth in scoring. He was not quite as dominant or effective as he was in the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament in terms of field goal percentage and blocked shots but Team USA faced tougher opposition in this event. Howard sometimes got caught up in retaliating against opposing players and he seemed to get into Coach Krzyzewski's dog house a couple times. Nevertheless, he started every game at center, scored in double figures and was a physical presence in the paint at both ends of the court. His screen/roll defense was not nearly as good as Bosh's.

Grade: "B+"

Jason Kidd (13.5 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.6 rpg, five steals, two blocked shots overall)

Despite his limited minutes, Kidd ranked fourth on Team USA in assists. He famously did not shoot frequently but he made his attempts count by converting six of his seven shots. The only downside for Kidd is that he forced a few passes, resulting in 12 turnovers. During the Olympics, Kidd somehow turned into the player that fan bloggers loved to hate. Yes, his boxscore numbers will not blow anyone away but he was USA Basketball's Player of the Year in 2007 after he put up similar numbers in the FIBA Americas tournament: 15.8 mpg, 1.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.3 rpg, 13 steals, five blocked shots). The way that Kidd and Team USA played in that event paved the way for this year's Olympics triumph. Although Kidd is a triple double king in the NBA, in FIBA play his value is not captured by numbers alone. Team USA struggled defensively in recent years, particularly in the backcourt, but the addition of Bryant and Kidd to the starting lineup not only fixed that problem but resulted in the rest of the players stepping up their defense as well. Kidd is a winner. I don't like to mix NBA or NCAA stats with FIBA stats but it is worth mentioning that there is a consistent pattern throughout Kidd's career that teams he joins increase their winning percentage and that teams he leaves experience a decline in winning percentage.

From a minutes standpoint, Kidd took a backseat to youngsters Paul and Williams, though it should be noted that Paul and Williams played almost all of the garbage time minutes; the minutes when games were up for grabs were pretty evenly split among that trio.

Kidd had a game-high seven assists in Team USA's 101-81 semifinal victory over Argentina. The semifinal round was the graveyard for Team USA in the 2006 FIBA World Championship and the 2004 Olympics but this time around Kidd made sure that this would not happen; early in the second half he did an excellent job of setting down Team USA's halfcourt offense, making sure that Howard got the ball in the paint.

Team USA outscored the opposition by 69 points overall when Kidd was on the court and they outscored the opposition by 31 points when he was on the court during medal round play.

Grade: "B+"

Tayshaun Prince (11.0 mpg, 4.3 ppg, .3 apg, 1.9 rpg, three steals, one blocked shot overall)

Prince, Redd and Boozer were clearly the last men on the bench for this team but Prince received more non-garbage time minutes than Redd and Boozer did. Prince led Team USA in three point field goal percentage (6-11, .545), though he obviously did not shoot nearly as many three pointers as Wade, James and several others. Prince shot .591 from the field overall but his real value is that he is a long armed defender who can guard multiple positions; that makes him a more valuable FIBA player for Team USA than a one dimensional shooter like Redd.

I gave Prince an "I" (incomplete) in my previous report card but since his non-garbage time minutes increased during the Olympics he showed enough to get a regular grade this time.

Grade: "B+"

Michael Redd (9.1 mpg, 3.1 ppg, .5 apg, 1.1 rpg, two steals, 0 blocked shots overall)

Redd was the darling of many so-called experts, the player whose outside marksmanship would supposedly be vital for Team USA to win the gold medal. Last year, I did a post titled Team USA Needs Bruce Bowen More Than it Needs Michael Redd and I have consistently and repeatedly stated that Redd--who is a very good NBA player--would be nothing more than a spare part on this squad for the following reasons: Team USA's primary focus has to be defense, Team USA has several players who are better perimeter defenders than Redd who can also make the shorter FIBA three point shot and it is much more important for Team USA to defend opposing three point shooters than it is for Team USA to make three pointers.

Redd shot .323 from the field in the Olympics, including .278 from three point range. He rarely appeared on the court before the victory was completely secured; in the gold medal game he did not check in until the final seconds.

Considering that Redd is a pure shooter who had by far the worst shooting percentage on the team it is tempting to give him an "F" but that would not really be fair considering his limited playing time. However, can we please stop hearing about how Team USA needs pure shooters like Redd, Mike Miller and (I hope no one is serious about this) J.J. Redick?

Grade: "I"

Carlos Boozer (6.0 mpg, 3.3 ppg, .3 apg, 1.9 rpg, two steals, 0 blocked shots overall)

I thought that Howard would play about 20 mpg and that Boozer and Bosh would average roughly 10 mpg each but Bosh played so well that he grabbed some minutes from both Howard and Boozer. Contrary to the dire predictions that Team USA did not have enough size up front, the reality proved to be exactly what I predicted: Team USA's versatile perimeter defenders wreaked havoc, James and Anthony took turns playing power forward and Team USA only needed one true NBA big on the court at a time; sometimes Team USA went with a small lineup with no true NBA bigs.

Boozer was a spare part for this team and any other big (Tyson Chandler is the name that came up most often) that people wanted to add either in his place or instead of one of the perimeter players would also have been a spare part.

Grade: "I"

Final thoughts:

Anthony (19.9 ppg), Wade (19.3 ppg) and James (13.9 ppg) were the three leading scorers on the 2006 version of Team USA that settled for the bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship. Howard and Elton Brand split the starting duties at center, while Bosh came off of the bench. Chris Paul started six of nine games at point guard and led the team in assists.

Anthony played much worse in this year's Olympics than he did for Team USA in 2006, while Wade and James performed comparably offensively and better defensively this time around. Bosh received more minutes in 2008 and played better defensively. However, if you compare the rosters, the statistics and the visual evidence, the obvious difference between this version of Team USA and the previous versions came at the defensive end of the court. In 2006, Team USA opponents shot .462 from the field and .349 from three point range; in 2008, Team USA opponents shot .403 from the field and .299 from three point range. The defensive improvement began when Colangelo added Bryant and Kidd to the roster: Colangelo says that, Krzyzewksi says that, the team's scouts say that and the players say that.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:40 PM



At Tuesday, August 26, 2008 8:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how you differentiate good "box score numbers" from actual game impact.

The wave of statisticians analyzing current basketball stats is alarming. I have nothing against stats complementing basketball analysis, but it's just wrong to start thinking "Moneyball" with basketball stats.

"Moneyball" may have worked with baseball, but it certainly does not work with basketball, football, or soccer. Unless the statisticians are using more complex data than point scored, rebounds, assists, and the like, stats will never tell the complete story in basketball.

Along the same lines, this kind of analysis will never tell the whole story regarding individual players' impact and contribution to a game.

At Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:55:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Baseball consists of a series of discrete interactions that can be quantified: the pitcher throws the ball, the hitter swings (or does not swing), the ball is in play (or not), the fielder catches it (or not) and so on. The center fielder has no control over what the pitcher and hitter do until/unless the ball is hit into play to him. In basketball, each play consists of a lot of moving parts and it is not enough from an evaluation standpoint just to note who scored, who got an assist, etc.

It is also important to note that a baseball hit and a baseball out are concrete things. An assist, a steal, a blocked shot, a turnover--these things are subjectively decided by scorekeepers. During the playoffs we were told that Chris Paul set all these records for his scoring numbers combined with his assists but when I charted his assists I discovered that a lot of his official assists were bogus. So, even if the formulas that these numbers gurus rely upon are correct--and I have serious doubts about this--if they are inputting inaccurate data then they will come to inaccurate conclusions.

It is amazing to me that more folks at APBR and other numbers crunchers apparently don't have the slightest interest in my findings about Paul. So many of these guys just keep blindly plugging numbers into formulas with no apparent regard for whether or not the stats are even right, let alone whether or not their formulas are sound. I don't mean to tar everyone with the same brush, because I know that guys like Dan Rosenbaum, Dean Oliver and Kevin Broom understand the limitations of stat analysis but some of the people in the field are a little too confident about what "their" numbers really mean.

The smart NBA talent evaluators who I have spoken with use numbers as a guide and don't blindly rely on them.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we're comparing baseball to basketball, isn't it peculiar how the GMs and players and coaches in baseball don't really dispute the statistical analyses, yet in basketball, many of the conclusions of the statisticians are in direct contrast to the evaluation of GMs and players and coaches? You'd think it would make the statisticians think twice about their basketball models, but instead they just figure they must be right, and the people who actually play must be wrong. Funny, isn't it?

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your thoughts on the importance of defending the three-point line proved true. But Team USA certainly needed to connect from beyond the arc in the gold medal game. Spain got some open looks in that contest, but I thought the US did an admirable job of defending the arc against them.

They just knocked down their opportunities.

If the US would have faltered from the three-point line, we would have returned with the silver medal.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:37:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Not every MLB exec goes along with stat analysis but in general I think that baseball stat analysis is sounder than basketball stat analysis for the reasons that I listed above. Bill James and others demonstrated that batting average is not the most important stat for hitters, etc. and such conclusions could be verified over time. However, when someone plugs a bunch of basketball stats into a spreadsheet and says that player X's rating is 25.5 and player Y's rating is 23.9 it is not clear what those numbers mean or how they were derived. Also, as I have noted, it is not certain that the boxscore stats--particularly assists, steals, blocked shots and turnovers--are even accurate. Legitimate statistical analysis in other fields comes with some kind of margin of error. I have yet to see any of the basketball player rating systems indicate that the ratings are accurate plus or minus x number of rating points.

To be fair, the originators of some of the basketball player rating systems probably have a better handle on their strengths and weaknesses than the casual fan who simply says, "Player X is better than Player Y because stat guru's player ratings say so." On the other hand, the people who develop these rating systems don't seem to be going out of their way to explain the limitations of their methodologies.

At Thursday, August 28, 2008 3:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Team USA's three point shooting did come in handy during the gold medal game, particularly in the fourth quarter. Still, Team USA ultimately won the game by 11 points, so there was a bit of a working margin there for Team USA to shoot a little less accurately and still win a nail biter.

More to the point, Team USA's three point shooting defense was well below optimal levels in that contest: Spain shot 8-17 (.471) from three point range, much better than the sub .300 three point shooting percentages that Team USA yielded during the tournament. Spain was not a particularly good three point shooting team during the Olympics and if Team USA had held Spain to their normal three point shooting levels then Team USA would not have needed to make three pointers in the fourth quarter to win.

Just to be clear, I don't dispute the value of having players on the roster who can make three point shots. What I have said all along--and what was resoundingly validated during the Olympics--is that in FIBA play Team USA's roster and mindset must be built around defense, starting on the perimeter. As Fran Fraschilla told me when I interviewed him prior to the Olympics, the FIBA game is played "outside in," while the NBA game is played from the "inside out." NBA teams establish a presence in the paint by posting a player up or dribble penetrating but FIBA teams--with Spain usually being an exception to this--look to establish the outside shot first.

Therefore, Team USA's wings (pgs, sgs, sfs) must be long, athletic and versatile defenders--guys like Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Kidd, Prince. Those players all can also make shots from the FIBA 20-6 three point line, which renders a guy like Redd--who is not a defensive standout--superfluous. You will note that in the gold medal game when Team USA made threes it was Kobe and Wade--not Redd--who did the damage.

Redd made a three year commitment to Team USA, he's a good player and a solid guy in terms of character, so I have no problem with him being the ninth or tenth man on the team. What befuddled me is that so many commentators acted like his shooting would play such a crucial role in the Olympics.

At Friday, August 29, 2008 8:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to dispute your point about Wade playing against reserves or "tired" players. No other team followed Team USA's substitution pattern of basically subbing like clockwork at the 5:00 mark of the first and third quarters. Up until a point, Team USA distributed minutes like as if it were an All-Star game. Consequently, our leading scorer only scored sixteen points per game because nobody on the team had enough court time to average more than that. I also find the claim that international players, used to playing "normal" rotation minutes were tired five minutes into the first and second halves.

What bothers me is your observation follows a long pattern of your blog posts where you mitigate the credit that you assign Wade, add disclaimers when talking about his success and combine what praise you dole out with backhanded compliments. I can link to the (many) posts that I'm referring to, if you think I'm wrong in saying this.

Nobody is expecting Wade to be First Team All-NBA this season. It's kind of hard to do that when the best player in the league plays your position. (However, if the NBA didn't insist on having a PG on the first-team, but merely awarded the top two guards, then yes, there are years where Wade would have been awarded that designation over Steve Nash).

Everyone who reads your blog gets that Kobe and LeBron are your guys. But, I think you ought to acknowledge that at 100%, Wade is the clear #3, and, in fact, he pushes LeBron for #2 (his basic disadvantage is his size). And when you make this acknowledgement, do so without all the caveats.

At Friday, August 29, 2008 4:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I don't think that anyone would dispute that one of Team USA's major advantages is superior depth. When Wade came into the game he was either playing against starters who had already been on the court or reserve players who--in most cases--were not as good as the starters. That is not a knock on Wade; it is just reality. Wade also had the advantage of being able to go all out because he knew that his minutes would be limited. Kobe and LeBron's minutes were of course also below their NBA numbers but Kobe and LeBron knew that if the game would be close that they would have to be on the court at the end. None of this takes away from the fact that Wade was extremely productive.

If you don't think that the FIBA players were getting tired against Team USA then I'm not sure which games you were watching. Why do you suppose that several of these teams kept the game close for a quarter or a half and then got blown out?

You don't have to link to my posts; I'm well aware of what I wrote and I chose my words very carefully in every instance. What I am doing is analyzing what happened, as opposed to simply blindly citing numbers from a boxscore or looking at a couple highlights from the game. If you choose to believe that I am giving "backhanded compliments" to your favorite player as opposed to analyzing his game then there is nothing that I can do about that.

Did you notice that I gave Wade a much deserved "A"?

I don't know what other people are expecting from Wade, other than I have heard it suggested that Wade's performance in the Olympics vaults him right back into contention with Kobe and LeBron in terms of being the NBA's best player. That seems like a reach to me for two reasons: (1) FIBA performance has little to do with NBA performance (otherwise, Gasol and Scola would be perennial All-Stars); (2) Wade must prove that he can be this effective while playing 35-plus mpg during the course of an NBA season.

By the way, in 2002-03, Kobe and T-Mac made the All-NBA First Team. There is not a mandate that the team must consist of one pg and one sg; last year, Kobe and CP3 made the first team, there were two pgs on the second team (Nash, DWill) and then two sgs on the third team (Manu, T-Mac). So if Wade stays healthy and plays well enough then he certainly could make All-NBA First Team even if Kobe remains the best player in the NBA.

Kobe and LeBron are not "my guys"; they are the two best players in the NBA, as knowledgeable observers (GMS, coaches, scouts, players) understand. Last year, Paul, Howard and KG fought for the number three spot. Wade was not a factor in the conversation.


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