Team USA 2024

TomRicardo

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I wonder whether KD coming off this injury gives everyone an easy out to bring him off the bench, and let him cook as the backup 3 with Bam, AD, Jrue, and Booker/Kawhi.

Or they use Tatum in that bench roll, and go Embiid, KD (he’s 7 feet tall and a very good secondary rim protector, he’s perfect as a FIBA 4) & LeBron up front.

More than the forward rotations, though, I’m intrigued and happy to hear that Ant might be settling in as the starting 2.

He’s better than Booker at this point, and more importantly MUCH better at role player things as the 5th starter.

He’s turned himself into a 40% spot-up three point shooter, better than Book (on like 180 spot-up attempts last year) and 43% wide open, which he’ll be constantly in that lineup.

Then he’s maybe the best close-out driver imaginable; he’s going to dunk on someone so hard the dude’s soul will leave his body, and he’ll make the right passes on those drives, too.

Plus he’ll be more than happy to be the on-ball defensive stopper at guard on this legend-laden squad (keeping Steph off the tougher matchups, etc) and he’s a goddamn monster defensively when he focuses on doing that.
Ant did not flow as well with the starters as Curry - Embiid - LeBron - Tatum did. A couple of times he was too twitchy moving out of spots and had to save passes to where he was. Tatum, Curry, Embiid, and LeBron had some really motion together. The three man game of LeBron, Embiid, and Tatum was incredibly scary especially with Curry constantly sliding into open space. Ant seemed a bit forced. That said he was still balls with the cuts and the 3s. I think he needs to relax a litlle and realize having LeBron, Embiid, and Tatum in constant motion makes the 86 Celtics look like HS JV team. Durant clearly would roll. right into that as well. That said if Ant settles in the will be the ability for him to go absolutely bananas like Jrue in Game 2 of the Finals. Simply put it is really easy to forget about Edwards when you constantly have LeBron, Tatum, and Embiid getting space with one of them rolling to the post and Steph Curry standing alone. I don't see how France will be able to defend that. Edwards will absolutely be able to go buck wild with Evan Fournier standing no man's land in front of him with Gobert and Wemby being dragged out of the lane.

Ant was much better than Booker so was Jrue. Haliburton really stuck out, really didn't play with the pace everyone else was.

The big thing is it looks like the US will play three big at all times except when Leonard is in. Between Bam, KD, Tatum, Embiid, LeBron, and Davis you will always have three ball handling front court players 6'9" or over (Tatum is taller than 6'8" and is taller than Bam at this point) unless you are settling for Kawhi. Edwards, Booker, Curry, and Jrue fit right in.

They can match France's front court and Canada's back court. Those bench minutes could be blood bath against anyone. The key is moving guys in and out.
 

slamminsammya

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I wonder whether KD coming off this injury gives everyone an easy out to bring him off the bench, and let him cook as the backup 3 with Bam, AD, Jrue, and Booker/Kawhi.

Or they use Tatum in that bench roll, and go Embiid, KD (he’s 7 feet tall and a very good secondary rim protector, he’s perfect as a FIBA 4) & LeBron up front.

More than the forward rotations, though, I’m intrigued and happy to hear that Ant might be settling in as the starting 2.

He’s better than Booker at this point, and more importantly MUCH better at role player things as the 5th starter.

He’s turned himself into a 40% spot-up three point shooter, better than Book (on like 180 spot-up attempts last year) and 43% wide open, which he’ll be constantly in that lineup.

Then he’s maybe the best close-out driver imaginable; he’s going to dunk on someone so hard the dude’s soul will leave his body, and he’ll make the right passes on those drives, too.

Plus he’ll be more than happy to be the on-ball defensive stopper at guard on this legend-laden squad (keeping Steph off the tougher matchups, etc) and he’s a goddamn monster defensively when he focuses on doing that.
great post, and welcome!
 

LA_33

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great post, and welcome!
Thanks. Several regulars here (maybe you?) know me from elsewhere online, and I’ve had this account for years, probably since before ‘04, just never posted much.

Stumbled in this week, and decided it was time to get into it with some other FIBA sickos. I love watching NBA guys in different contexts in the big FIBA tournaments.
 

LA_33

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Ant did not flow as well with the starters as Curry - Embiid - LeBron - Tatum did. A couple of times he was too twitchy moving out of spots and had to save passes to where he was. Tatum, Curry, Embiid, and LeBron had some really motion together. The three man game of LeBron, Embiid, and Tatum was incredibly scary especially with Curry constantly sliding into open space. Ant seemed a bit forced. That said he was still balls with the cuts and the 3s. I think he needs to relax a litlle and realize having LeBron, Embiid, and Tatum in constant motion makes the 86 Celtics look like HS JV team. Durant clearly would roll. right into that as well. That said if Ant settles in the will be the ability for him to go absolutely bananas like Jrue in Game 2 of the Finals. Simply put it is really easy to forget about Edwards when you constantly have LeBron, Tatum, and Embiid getting space with one of them rolling to the post and Steph Curry standing alone. I don't see how France will be able to defend that. Edwards will absolutely be able to go buck wild with Evan Fournier standing no man's land in front of him with Gobert and Wemby being dragged out of the lane.

Ant was much better than Booker so was Jrue. Haliburton really stuck out, really didn't play with the pace everyone else was.

The big thing is it looks like the US will play three big at all times except when Leonard is in. Between Bam, KD, Tatum, Embiid, LeBron, and Davis you will always have three ball handling front court players 6'9" or over (Tatum is taller than 6'8" and is taller than Bam at this point) unless you are settling for Kawhi. Edwards, Booker, Curry, and Jrue fit right in.

They can match France's front court and Canada's back court. Those bench minutes could be blood bath against anyone. The key is moving guys in and out.
Good stuff, thanks.

Where are you watching these practices? Did they actually stream them somewhere?

It will be an adjustment for Ant to accept a role on this team, but if he settles in, he’s the platonic ideal of a 3&D role player with this group (who, oh yeah, was also just the primary playmaker/scorer on a Conference Finals team…)
 

InstaFace

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Stumbled in this week, and decided it was time to get into it with some other FIBA sickos. I love watching NBA guys in different contexts in the big FIBA tournaments.


Though I think Kerr would reply to you that the "on-ball defensive stopper guard" on this team is one Jrue Holiday. You can't lose either way, though.
 

LA_33

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Though I think Kerr would reply to you that the "on-ball defensive stopper guard" on this team is one Jrue Holiday. You can't lose either way, though.
As a situational specialist, of course.

I was only talking about within the starting 5, though, and there’s been no indication that Jrue is a candidate to start.

I mostly expect Kerr to run hockey lineups with a team this deep, and who don’t know each other well; let a couple lineups learn to play with each other, and blitz everyone with a 2nd unit that would still be favorites for
gold if they were the starters.

So someone has to be a “role player” with the starters. Ant will need to adjust a bit to do that seemlessly, but the skill set is there to destroy worlds in a Super-3&D role.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Thanks. Several regulars here (maybe you?) know me from elsewhere online, and I’ve had this account for years, probably since before ‘04, just never posted much.

Stumbled in this week, and decided it was time to get into it with some other FIBA sickos. I love watching NBA guys in different contexts in the big FIBA tournaments.
Good to have you in here old friend!
 

SteveF

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The major impression I got from watching them play is that the team is fucking huge and can play even bigger if it really wants to.
 

BaseballJones

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The major impression I got from watching them play is that the team is fucking huge and can play even bigger if it really wants to.
Yeah they could roll out a lineup of LeBron at the point, then Tatum, KD, Embiid, and AD, and play four out with Embiid on the perimeter. He shot 39% from three this year and probably would happily shoot a bunch of spot up threes. AD serves as the primary rim protector on D with this unit but that’s a ton of length and shot blocking.

Tatum, LeBron, and KD can penetrate and score or kick out. I don’t think this is their best lineup but if they wanted to go uber huge, they could.
 

slamminsammya

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Good stuff, thanks.

Where are you watching these practices? Did they actually stream them somewhere?

It will be an adjustment for Ant to accept a role on this team, but if he settles in, he’s the platonic ideal of a 3&D role player with this group (who, oh yeah, was also just the primary playmaker/scorer on a Conference Finals team…)
View: https://youtu.be/ys_gKYXDjEY?si=9eNnlV0AUTRZzT5C


This is what the all star game should be.
 

TripleOT

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Adding Tom Ricardo to a Celtics board is like adding Jrue Hiliday to the Celtics. Good before, very good now.
 

TomRicardo

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Good stuff, thanks.

Where are you watching these practices? Did they actually stream them somewhere?

It will be an adjustment for Ant to accept a role on this team, but if he settles in, he’s the platonic ideal of a 3&D role player with this group (who, oh yeah, was also just the primary playmaker/scorer on a Conference Finals team…)
People are taping the scrimmages and throwing it on youtube. Ant also can slash to the hoop which if you can get the post guys moving can be extremely effective
 

Auger34

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Is he already the consensus #1 pick in the 2025 draft? If he isn’t, he soon will be.
There are 2 big names right now and 4 potentials. Lucky for us, the ones that aren't European will be at 2 colleges so easy to watch,

Flagg (who is the consensus) and Ace Bailey (about to go to Rutgers with who has some supporters) are the two top dogs.

Dylan Harper (also going to Rutgers) has a few fans as well. The unknown is Kauman Maluach who is heading to Duke with Flagg. He's 7'2, under 18 and has a ton of skills but is relatively new to the game and unpolished. He could shoot up the draft boards if he looks really good at Duke
 

Auger34

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The thing about Flagg is that he's a tremendous defensive player and connector, something that those short videos don't show.

I am a Duke fan and the rumblings are that he is KG like in his ability to raise teammates and make everyone better
 

RorschachsMask

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Last year, a scout told me the vision with Flagg was Kirilenko defensively, and someone like Paul George on offense. Most scouts think the jumpshot will end up being a weapon, also said it’s almost universal that he’s looked at as a generational guy defensively.

That’s a high end outcome though, obviously.
 

lars10

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Obviously he has to improve but Flagg is a good deal better than Tatum was at this age.
Looking at their stats.. Tatum in his 18 year old year at Duke had almost the exact same stat line as Cooper has had in his senior year of high school. I don’t remember Tatum highlight videos from high school though.

Watched a lot of Flagg in you tube videos and it’s hard to know how good he’ll be in college and the NBA (although he looks like he’ll be very good) just based on the fact that his team is so much better than the competition. There’s another white power forward/center on his team that also looks very good.. I’m sure Flagg makes everyone’s job easier because of how good he is on both ends.
 

Auger34

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Looking at their stats.. Tatum in his 18 year old year at Duke had almost the exact same stat line as Cooper has had in his senior year of high school. I don’t remember Tatum highlight videos from high school though.

Watched a lot of Flagg in you tube videos and it’s hard to know how good he’ll be in college and the NBA (although he looks like he’ll be very good) just based on the fact that his team is so much better than the competition. There’s another white power forward/center on his team that also looks very good.. I’m sure Flagg makes everyone’s job easier because of how good he is on both ends.
Flagg actually reclassified. He's 17. That's not a shot on Tatum, who was generally considered a top 5-10 prospect of his high school class. But Flagg is pretty rarified air as a high schooler. Getting invited to Team USA Select jsut confirms that
 

Euclis20

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Looking at their stats.. Tatum in his 18 year old year at Duke had almost the exact same stat line as Cooper has had in his senior year of high school. I don’t remember Tatum highlight videos from high school though.

Watched a lot of Flagg in you tube videos and it’s hard to know how good he’ll be in college and the NBA (although he looks like he’ll be very good) just based on the fact that his team is so much better than the competition. There’s another white power forward/center on his team that also looks very good.. I’m sure Flagg makes everyone’s job easier because of how good he is on both ends.
Flagg has been #1 in his class for years (and pegged as the future #1 pick for his entire high school career, once he's eligible). Tatum was 3rd in his class and always looked like a top 5 pick, but never the #1 guy. Even if the production is similar, Flagg is on a completely different level as a prospect than Tatum was.

Part of that is Flagg is more physically developed than Tatum (Tatum was listed as 6'8 175 as a senior, Flagg is 6'9 205) and part of it is that Tatum wasn't seen as a plus defender as a prospect. As has been noted above, Flagg looks like a generational defender. Here's what the Ringer had to say about Tatum in their 2017 draft guide:

  • Lacks defensive mentality. Loses focus off-ball, dies on screens. He has the ability but doesn’t play with much effort or NBA-level physicality.
  • Lacks defensive versatility. Flat-footed on the perimeter; gets toasted by guards. Thin in the waist, so gets overpowered by bigs.

His ceiling looked like Carmelo Anthony - top 10 potential, but adequate at best defender and a potentially explosive scorer who perhaps spent too much time in the mid-range to ever be one of the very best players in the league. We'll see how things go for Flagg at Duke, but the safe bet is that he ends up being a much better prospect than Tatum was in 2017.
 

the moops

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Last year, a scout told me the vision with Flagg was Kirilenko defensively, and someone like Paul George on offense. Most scouts think the jumpshot will end up being a weapon, also said it’s almost universal that he’s looked at as a generational guy defensively.

That’s a high end outcome though, obviously.
Peak PG was probably as good defensively as Kirilenko no?
 

Auger34

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Flagg has been #1 in his class for years (and pegged as the future #1 pick for his entire high school career, once he's eligible). Tatum was 3rd in his class and always looked like a top 5 pick, but never the #1 guy. Even if the production is similar, Flagg is on a completely different level as a prospect than Tatum was.
Before he got injured, Harry Giles was seen as the can't miss prospect of that class. I think everyone was comparing him to prime Chris Webber. It's a shame that injuries just completely derailed him
 

BigSoxFan

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God help the NBA if the Spurs, potentially armed with 2 lottery picks, land Flagg. Would be fun as hell to watch him play with Wemby though.
 

Kliq

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Peak PG was probably as good defensively as Kirilenko no?
Yeah but he wasn't white!

In all seriousness, the Flagg/Kirilenko comparisons are probably based on Flagg's shot-blocking ability, which are very rare for a wing.
 

Euclis20

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Peak PG was probably as good defensively as Kirilenko no?
I think peak PG was a better wing defender, but he couldn't touch AK's versatility. Kirilenko could play plus defense against 95% of the league, and was an A level rim protector (led the league in blocks once and averaged about 3 per game in his prime).

The hard thing to project about Flagg is that he's already taller than George, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him get to about 6'10, 240 in his prime (that's Ben Simmons). 17 is young.
 

Jimbodandy

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Before he got injured, Harry Giles was seen as the can't miss prospect of that class. I think everyone was comparing him to prime Chris Webber. It's a shame that injuries just completely derailed him
Yeah both Giles and Porter were slammed by injuries young, and the former never recovered. It sucks.
 

RorschachsMask

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Flagg is definitely more highly regarded than JT was out of HS lol. The Tatum out of HS thing is actually pretty funny, college too. I was bullish on him, thought he’d be a top 10-15 player. I thought there was some more upside defensively and as a playmaker than the consensus, but I thought it would always be about his scoring.

Dude switched up his entire player archtype, and it started in the bubble. I mean he’s obviously an excellent scorer, but becoming the malleable monster we’ve seen? I did not see that coming. His vision/creativity as a passer in these past playoffs? Man, that shit was crazy.

The adaptation of both his and Jaylen’s game is fucking wild lol.
 

Jimbodandy

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Flagg is definitely more highly regarded than JT was out of HS lol. The Tatum out of HS thing is actually pretty funny, college too. I was bullish on him, thought he’d be a top 10-15 player. I thought there was some more upside defensively and as a playmaker than the consensus, but I thought it would always be about his scoring.

Dude switched up his entire player archtype, and it started in the bubble. I mean he’s obviously an excellent scorer, but becoming the malleable monster we’ve seen? I did not see that coming. His vision/creativity as a passer in these past playoffs? Man, that shit was crazy.
You weren't alone. A lot of the scouting at the time had him as an old-school Adrian Dantley type scoring wing. The consensus wasn't talking up his BBIQ and defensive chops, aside from the occasional "he might not be done growing, can add muscle to frame" caveats. We all would have been pretty happy with an efficient 3-level scorer. It's nice when someone exceeds expectations this much.
 

Euclis20

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Flagg is definitely more highly regarded than JT was out of HS lol. The Tatum out of HS thing is actually pretty funny, college too. I was bullish on him, thought he’d be a top 10-15 player. I thought there was some more upside defensively and as a playmaker than the consensus, but I thought it would always be about his scoring.

Dude switched up his entire player archtype, and it started in the bubble. I mean he’s obviously an excellent scorer, but becoming the malleable monster we’ve seen? I did not see that coming. His vision/creativity as a passer in these past playoffs? Man, that shit was crazy.

The adaptation of both his and Jaylen’s game is fucking wild lol.
That behind the back pass he made to Horford in game 3 against Indy (75 seconds left down 5, in the paint and right on target to Al in the corner) was criminally underrated. Given the difficulty and circumstances, that's the kind of play that would be on a lot of guys all-time highlight reels. If Lebron or Luka had made that pass, everyone would've gone crazy.

The best thing about it - it wasn't even the only behind the back pass to Horford in that particular 4th quarter for an open 3. His playmaking has gradually grown to the point where the only guys his size that are better at it are universally acknowledged to be among the best passers in the game.
 

slamminsammya

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You weren't alone. A lot of the scouting at the time had him as an old-school Adrian Dantley type scoring wing. The consensus wasn't talking up his BBIQ and defensive chops, aside from the occasional "he might not be done growing, can add muscle to frame" caveats. We all would have been pretty happy with an efficient 3-level scorer. It's nice when someone exceeds expectations this much.
funny too because as i recall he was a solid defender right out of the gate. it wasn’t some years long transformation.
 

Jimbodandy

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funny too because as i recall he was a solid defender right out of the gate. it wasn’t some years long transformation.
He certainly had positional awareness and used his length out of the gate, both in ways that I didn't expect.

I mean, he started 80 games as a rookie for a team that won 53 games the prior year. Kid was fucking good instantly and has improved every year.
 

Auger34

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Flagg is definitely more highly regarded than JT was out of HS lol. The Tatum out of HS thing is actually pretty funny, college too. I was bullish on him, thought he’d be a top 10-15 player. I thought there was some more upside defensively and as a playmaker than the consensus, but I thought it would always be about his scoring.

Dude switched up his entire player archtype, and it started in the bubble. I mean he’s obviously an excellent scorer, but becoming the malleable monster we’ve seen? I did not see that coming. His vision/creativity as a passer in these past playoffs? Man, that shit was crazy.

The adaptation of both his and Jaylen’s game is fucking wild lol.
I think he had a foot injury for most of his year at Duke but I watched him almost every game and wasn't a huge fan. I thought the Carmelo comparisons were apt. He didn't pass the ball much at all and didn't really seem to have any inclination to want to pass the ball

Sidenote: Out of Duke grads I was definitely most off on Tatum but I hit RJ Barrett pretty much dead on.

His playmaking has got so much better from then to now, it's really amazing. Everyone talks about Jaylen's improvements but Tatum really deserves more credit for that as well
 

Kliq

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You weren't alone. A lot of the scouting at the time had him as an old-school Adrian Dantley type scoring wing. The consensus wasn't talking up his BBIQ and defensive chops, aside from the occasional "he might not be done growing, can add muscle to frame" caveats. We all would have been pretty happy with an efficient 3-level scorer. It's nice when someone exceeds expectations this much.
I remember Tatum getting criticized for not being a 99th percentile athlete. He didn't blow people away with his combine metrics, but obviously as a functional NBA player I never think about him having a lack of athleticism, even if he is a knotch below Jaylen in that regard.

I remember even earlier this year, in the Tatum vs Ant conversations, that people admitted that Ant had a "higher ceiling" than Tatum because Ant had that ultra-elite athleticism. But Tatum is also like, four inches taller and 20/30lbs heavier, which counts for something even if Ant has a higher vertical.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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I remember Tatum getting criticized for not being a 99th percentile athlete. He didn't blow people away with his combine metrics, but obviously as a functional NBA player I never think about him having a lack of athleticism, even if he is a knotch below Jaylen in that regard.

I remember even earlier this year, in the Tatum vs Ant conversations, that people admitted that Ant had a "higher ceiling" than Tatum because Ant had that ultra-elite athleticism. But Tatum is also like, four inches taller and 20/30lbs heavier, which counts for something even if Ant has a higher vertical.
The problem with forecasting one player as better than another based on athleticism, is that playing above the rim can giveth but then taketh away (injuries). Like the old line 'Jumping isn't tough on your knees, the problem is the landing.' The mention of "ceilings" usually comes with the assumption that a player's body doesn't break down until the end of their prime when thirty-something. Tatum could tear up his knees, sit out next year, then play a great old-man game going forward for the rest of his career based on his passing, positioning, etc. If you are gifted to such an extent like Ant, you don't necessarily get those reps of making those slow close-to-the-floor plays.
 

snowmanny

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You weren't alone. A lot of the scouting at the time had him as an old-school Adrian Dantley type scoring wing. The consensus wasn't talking up his BBIQ and defensive chops, aside from the occasional "he might not be done growing, can add muscle to frame" caveats. We all would have been pretty happy with an efficient 3-level scorer. It's nice when someone exceeds expectations this much.
I thought he was going to be Bernard King because he was going to have a sweet and unstoppable turn-around mid-range jumper. Turns out the turn-around J is the only thing about him that annoys me.
 

Jimbodandy

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I thought he was going to be Bernard King because he was going to have a sweet and unstoppable turn-around mid-range jumper. Turns out the turn-around J is the only thing about him that annoys me.
Man, I love a Bernard King reference. Some people don't remember what an absolute stud he was before that injury.
 

InstaFace

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There’s another white power forward/center on his team that also looks very good.. I’m sure Flagg makes everyone’s job easier because of how good he is on both ends.
85276

Just cause he's from Maine doesn't mean he's from that part of Maine... :)
 

DGreenwood

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Flagg is definitely more highly regarded than JT was out of HS lol. The Tatum out of HS thing is actually pretty funny, college too. I was bullish on him, thought he’d be a top 10-15 player. I thought there was some more upside defensively and as a playmaker than the consensus, but I thought it would always be about his scoring.

Dude switched up his entire player archtype, and it started in the bubble. I mean he’s obviously an excellent scorer, but becoming the malleable monster we’ve seen? I did not see that coming. His vision/creativity as a passer in these past playoffs? Man, that shit was crazy.

The adaptation of both his and Jaylen’s game is fucking wild lol.
In my mind, Tatum's focus on D started after he played for Pop on the USA Basketball team. Pop told him he could be Kawhi or PG if he focused on D and it seemed to resonate with JT, and people started to notice his D the next season.

Pop on Tatum link

“I wish I could be you!” boomed USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich, striding toward the young Boston Celtics forward in a film room in China. “Then I could stand in the corner with my 7-foot-long arms down by my side and not move while players go past me!”

He motioned for Tatum to take a seat on a bench next to the elevator, slung his arm around the 21-year old, and explained why he singled him out.

“Do you know how special you can be?” Popovich asked. “There are very few two-way players in our game, and you have the opportunity to be one of them. You could be like Kawhi [Leonard] and Paul George.”

Tatum was so surprised he didn’t answer at first, prompting Popovich to hastily add, “I hope I haven’t offended you.”

“Offended me?” Tatum said. “That’s a compliment!”
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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And Vassell/Sochan aren’t chopped liver either. They would be really good. You would just need to sprinkle in some vet role players and watch the 50+ win seasons roll in.
You never want to write off younger players and this forum in particular cannot wait to proclaim athletes as never-weres or done.

That said I watched a fair bit of SA this season and both those guys feel like they are just warm NBA bodies. Vassell can shoot a bit but the other skills aren't there and his physical profile feels like he has to be really good on offense to be effective - and he is an older player.

Sochan is relatively young but if anything, he kind of backslid a bit this year.

Its not fair but watching the Cs play this year contrasted with Spurs games made me appreciate Boston's execution that much more. While the Cs were executing a high level, these guys spent a lot of minutes flailing around the court.