Another win, albeit a close one, for Team USA as they finished off Argentina to improve to 4-0 in exhibition play. Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points which included seven 3s. The last one being an in-your-face dagger with a couple minutes left after Argentina closed to within four.
A couple thoughts on the three Thunderers:
- Russell Westbrook just looks a little uncomfortable not being the ball dominant player. Multiple times he found wide open mid-range looks that he more than routinely takes and makes and instead hesitated or passed on them entirely. He’s clearly on the floor with the assignment to be an energy defender, a high-flyer in transition and an attacker offensively. But he’s operating off the ball entirely and it’s completely marginalizing his ability. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but you’re seeing why the thought to put Westbrook off the ball isn’t exactly a wise one in terms of how the Thunder applies. He needs to ball in his hands. He’s good off the ball and can cut and attack exquisitely, but if you want the most out of Russell, you have to just let him run loose.
- KD looks completely like himself. Taking good shots, staying in rhythm, playing efficiently. It seems pretty clear that this team is Durant and LeBron’s almost entirely. Those two will probably take turns asserting themselves offensively while other guys fit in around. When Durant is getting open looks, it’s almost too easy for him. With his size and ability to shoot over slow closeouts, it’s really just a matter of him making or missing.
- James Harden doesn’t appear to be part of the rotation. Coach K shortened his bench today for the first time playing 10 guys while leaving Harden and Anthony Davis on the bench. With only one tune-up left and the Olympics coming, Team USA is zeroing in on who they want to play when and where. And unfortunately, Harden might not be a part of it. Though I think in a pinch, he could be a perfect player for Coach K to pull out and run some late game pick-and-roll with.