BallinEurope gets things rolling on Saturday with highlight clips – okay, some links to online stuff You Should Read as well, but the main point is highlight clips, right? This morning, then, a quick look at some excellent performances turned in in last night’s NBA action from the Continent’s top players. Starring Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Tiago Splitter, Ty Lawson, and of course a certain Spanish point guard you may have heard something about…
After crunching the numbers, 48 Minutes’ Aaron McGuire deduces that “The fact is, Tony Parker has been playing atrociously, *especially* at the rim, and it’s tough to say whether this should make Spurs fans excited or terrified. Why excited? It’s easy to simply chalk this up to small sample size and assume he gets better as the year goes on, which would be an instant improvement to San Antonio’s already gelling offense. Terrified is more obvious — if this represents a permanent change in his game, the Spurs are essentially down to *no* all-star caliber offensive players.”
It’s always a good time for some predictions, eh? Sam Chadwick, Ball in Europe’s man in the UK, today dusts off the Official BallinEurope Crystal Ball in looking forward to another year of top-quality basketball in the world’s top competitions. Who does Sammy like in the NBA, Euroleague, college ball and the Olympics? Read on to find out (and see plenty of highlight clips).
This year sees the London Olympic games, a shortened NBA season, another year of Euroleague basketball and the NCAA Final Four – what more could we possibly ask for? Happy new year…
In a game BallinEurope’s been (half-)awaiting for years, Ricky Rubio debuted for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the team’s opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Though the Thunder won the game 104-100, Rubio impressed with six points, six assists, five rebounds (!), zero turnovers and his first NBA YouTube-worthy highlights.
NBA dish no. 1 for the Spanish wunderkind will go down as one lightning-quick bounce pass threading a needle past Russell Westbrook and James Harden to find Zach Randolph coming into the lane. Check out Harden’s body language after this bucket; pwned! “He makes it so easy…”
The one going viral since approximately 0.68 seconds after the final buzzer is another deadly bounce pass in transition, with Rubio feeding Derrick Williams amid an unset Thunder D; Williams’ jam in the fourth quarter retook a boomeranging lead for the Timberwolves at 79-78.
Here’s Ricky in the post-game, perhaps most importantly stating that he “feels comfortable” out there. He sure did look it…
Later, Rubio messaged via Facebook: “En MIL ya. Derrota dura contra un gran equipo. Pero tenemos que pensar en mañana. No hay descanso. Gracias a todos por el apoyo.”
As Rubio opined in the above video, the ‘Wolves can’t exactly feel 100% good about a loss (On the other hand, what are you going to do? That’s Kevin Durant’s team…) but keeping it within four? Coming back from a late 10-point deficit? Showing some nice chemistry early? Kevin Love contributing a beastly performance (22 points, 12 boards, five assists) as though it’s March and he hasn’t missed a step? Nice.
It’s too early, the ‘Wolves may be too young and the depth may be a bit thin for BiE to concur just yet, but maybe ‘Wolves basketball is back.
Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.
*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).
As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.
Lopez went for 20.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game with the New Jersey Nets last season.
And if you’re keeping score at home, the refugees from Nets land playing in Europe increases: After Williams and (prospectively) Lopez, there are Jordan Farmar (with Maccabi Tel Aviv), Sasha Vujacic (Anadolu Efes), Mario West (Scaligera Basket Verona), Sundiata Gaines (BC Armia) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Fenerbahçe Ülker; and okay, BiE realizes Bogdanovic isn’t technically a refugee, but he may be a Net someday).
For all those who figured Ricky Rubio to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2011-12 season was a done deal, well, think again. ESPN.com is today reporting the Rubio and his agent are in fact willing to discuss staying on with new ACB champions FC Barcelona.
The ESPN piece also reports some nice words from Duke University/Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose informal scouting report on Rubio says that “He’s gotten bigger and he plays outstanding defense, and because he’s a pass-first guard, he’s going to be liked by everybody who plays with him.”
Yeah, we’re gonna do the “Top 10” retrospective thing, but trust BiE: It’ll be mostly painless. (After all, a little reviewing of crazy highlights never hurt anyone – even with a hangover.) These are the stories running on BallinEurope in calendar year 2010 that got the most “reads,” but how many do you remember?
Relive 2010 with BiE through championships Euroleague and FIBA, the NBA offseason, the greatest basketball documentary in years, Allen Iverson abroad and dunks. Oh yes, there will be dunks. Click on any the titles in bold to read the original post. Enjoy and as always thanks for reading BallinEurope.com!