After 3 games Slovenia is left as the only team in group D with no losses. Junaki doing their job so far.

Yesterday Slovenia managed to assert their dominance over Korea (at least in the second half). Coach Zdovc said this was the game he was most afraid of because the guys automatically relax against teams that are supposedly less talented. The guys quickly realized this was no time for slacking. It felt like Korea couldn't miss in the first few minutes and they kept that momentum going for the whole half. Thank Goran Dragic for carrying the team till halftime (to be fair most of the time). Coach Zdovc apparently got mad enough during the brake that our guys started taking things more seriously, had an outstanding 3rd quarter and took the 89:72 win.

Goran Dragic after the win against Korea:

We have to congratulate the Koreans. They play, not really weird basketball, but they are in constant movement, they do everything in sprint, so it's very hard to play them. If you relax just a little, are late just a bit, they immediately punish you and that's what they did in the first half. Then Jure (Zdovc) gave them a bit of a talking-to and we finally came together and got this difference.

And because it looks so, so nice, here are the Dragon's stats so far in the tournament.


Take note; he is doing all of this in 26 minutes of playing time. So freaking efficient. If anyone wants to be in awe some more, check out players statistics on the FIBA page.

Today they face a new opponent: Angola. The two national teams did meet each other in a warm-up game prior to the cup. It was a blow out game in which Slovenia took a 21 point win playing without Goran Dragic. One would think this would ease our minds, but the pre-Cup Angola team was more of a B league team and really only one or two players from that team are at the World Cup. So it's a completely different opponent. That trip to China was such a waste.

So far Slovenia has 3 wins and provided it takes the win against Angola today, we still have a safety net of a max 8 point loss vs Lithuania tomorrow to take first place in group D. This has to happen in order for us to meet team USA as late as possible in the bracket. In this scenario: semifinals.

But like Zdovc, I don't want to discuss this in detail yet. First and foremost is today's game. The team knows they should not underestimate any opponent. Angola is highly motivated fighting for the last spot that will advance them into the second round. Subconsciously, it still happens. Hopefully that first half against Korea proved as a lesson.

Here are the standings so far:


Slovenia:Angola starts at 8:30AM Phoenix time

Which place will Slovenia take in Group D?

  66 votes | Results

The Phoenix Suns Archie Goodwin played little as a rookie. Can an NBA player still become a major force at their position if they haven't already shown it as a rookie?

Impatient fans want to see progress from every player on the team. Fast progress. Impatient coaches want the same, as do the players themselves.

But some players require a little bit more patience, and Phoenix Suns shooting guard Archie Goodwin is one such player. The kid was just 19 years old his entire rookie season last year - the second youngest player overall in the NBA (behind the Greek freak in Milwaukee). He is plenty tall for his position (6'5") and long (6'10" wingspan) but is still wafer thin at a generously-listed 190 pounds.Archie-goodwin-SL-rendering

Even entering his second season, Archie will still just be 20 years old. Only a dozen players drafted THIS year are younger than Archie, and one of them (by only a week) is his teammate, Tyler Ennis. T.J. Warren is nearly a year older. He will be 21 next week. Get out the cane, T.J. Alex Len is older than all of them, turning 21 last month already.

So, let's give this kid some slack. He's not the first kid to come into the NBA needing seasoning to before blossoming into a star.

Goodwin dunk gif 2

An extreme example of youth being young is Kobe Bryant, who only played only 15 minutes per game as an 18-year old rookie. But that's where the comparisons end. Archie is no Kobe.

Is there a modern-day example?

How about Lance Stephenson.

Born Ready...for more seasoning

Stephenson played in only 12 games as a 20 year old rookie after one up-and-down season in college. At Cincinnati, he was a ball-dominant combo guard who, at 6'5", was learning to become a shooting guard in the NBA.

While Stephenson was plagued with maturity issues off the court, he also displayed a lot of immaturity on the court both in college and in the pros, and was stuck between positions (as Kellan calls it, a 0 guard).

Where I want to make the comparison between Stephenson and Goodwin is in their career trajectories. Stephenson is a great talent, but he barely played in his first two seasons as he backed up Danny Granger and draft mate Paul George. Goodwin is losing playing time to Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green.

Lance Stephenson's career trajectory


Stephenson finally got his chance at big minutes when Granger got hurt, but still would not have played unless he'd developed his all-around game. When he entered the league, he couldn't shoot and only made 3 three-pointers in his first two NBA seasons (two of those in the last game of his second year). He could have earned more than 10 minutes a game in his rookie and sophomore seasons if he'd been better prepared for the NBA regardless of who was ahead of him on the depth chart.

Who knows how or when Goodwin will get his chance, but sometime in the next year or two that chance will present itself.

Different skillsets

The skill sets of Stephenson and the Suns' Goodwin are dissimilar in many respects. Lance is very thick, and a better passer and rebounder, while Goodwin is better at scoring near the basket.

But there are a lot of career parallels between them, and that's what this article is all about. Both played combo guard in college and used their best skill to absorb contact and score at the basket (for Stephenson his strength, for Goodwin his quickness). Both have good defensive potential. Neither could shoot straight from distance.

Both came out of college with some maturity issues, but with a high ceiling as an NBA player.

Rookie season

Stephenson was 20 as a rookie, while Goodwin was 19. Neither played much (each averaging about 10 minutes per game) while their team fought to make the playoffs. Archie actually played a lot more games than Lance (52 to 12), but neither was a key contributor.

Stephenson showcased some positive play offensively, but had very little success with defensive matters, especially being billed [as a defensive guy], and playing as a point guard.

As the season moved along, murmurs began to arise about whether Stephenson would ever play for the Pacers, and whether his time on the bench would be more valuable than a D-League stint with the Mad Ants. The Pacers believed him being with the team would be a better opportunity to monitor his growth on and off the floor.

--SB Nation's, rookie year review

Second season

Lance's second season was much like Archie's first. He barely played 10 minutes a game, though this time he was a rotational fixture, if only at 10 minutes a game, in the first half of the season. He didn't get more time because he couldn't be trusted to make the right play or take the right shot.

Still, the team loved his potential and expected him to join the regular rotation in his third season.

With two seasons of NBA schooling behind him, Stephenson now stands poised to make the jump into a full-time slot in the rotation-if he continues to progress in the summer.

In other words, Born Ready is almost ready. - Second year review

Looking at Stephenson's career path it looks like his second season was much more closely aligned with Goodwin's rookie campaign. Even Stephenson's final game of that season was his best.

[Stephenson] was a fixture in the first half of the season playing in 32 of the first 35 games but with fell out of the picture, making just 10 appearances in the final 31.

But that final appearance left a lasting impression.

With the third seed clinched and Danny Granger and Leandro Barbosa given the night off to nurse injuries, Stephenson started for the first time and racked up 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting, playing 35 minutes without a turnover.

It was a performance made even more remarkable by the fact he shot 2 of 4 from the 3-point line, doubling his career output. Stephenson had been 2 of 31 in his first 53 games.

He has the ability to get inside the defense and create a shot or a play seemingly at will. As a passer, his vision and creativity is unmatched on the roster but his judgment needs refinement. Defensively, he has come a long way but has a ways to travel before achieving true soundness within the system. second year review

Goodwin played 52 games as a rookie, with his best one coming last - in the finale against Sacramento. And here's Goodwin's final game of his rookie season.

Yet another similarity between Goodwin's rookie season and Stephenson's second year: Leandro Barbosa. The Brazilian Blur. Both lost their rotation spot midseason to the kid from Brazil.

Again, other than the shooting problems and the lack of maturity on the court, their skill sets are not that similar. Stephenson is an incredibly gifted passer and solid rebounder while Goodwin is not. Stephenson is thick like Tucker, while Goodwin is wiry.

But Goodwin offers the ideal on-and-off-court personality (those charges were dropped this summer, so don't go there), never made a terrible offensive play when he was on the court, is more gifted around the rim and has a lot more athleticism than Stephenson possesses.

Check out this interview and montage of Archie's rookie season by This video gives you great insight into Archie the person, the player and the worker.

Born Ready, finally

"He has to develop his 3-point shooting," [coach Frank] Vogel about Stephenson's third year. "If he's going to play more at the two, then he's got to be able to space the floor.

"With his physicality and size and athleticism and his ability to make plays, if he comes back with a 3-point shot the way Paul George came back from year one to year two, I think it's going to be impossible not to have in the rotation and be a big part of what we're doing. If he develops that, look out." second year review

Stephenson truly did take over a rotation spot the next season, his third in the NBA, when former All-Star Danny Granger succumbed to major injury. He wasn't spectacular - just under 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 29 minutes per game - but he was a starter for a team that made the Eastern Conference Finals thanks in part to his bulldog defense.

Indeed, Stephenson became a dangerous-enough three-point shooter (33% on 3 attempts per game) to keep defenses honest and was a defensive stopper alongside Paul George on the wing.

Stephenson exploded in his fourth season, the one just ended. The season started off so strong, with Stephenson a nightly threat to put up a triple double alongside MVP Candidate Paul George.

The two of them also provided great defense on the wing, a rare offense/defense combination that propelled the Pacers to the league's best record after three months.

But then the wheels kinda fell off for Indiana, and one could argue that Lance's presence as a leader left a lot to be desired for an Indiana team that started hot but fractured as the season went along.

Still, he was heading to a huge payday. Some even thought he would earn $10-12 million per year on his new contract and on talent alone he would have gotten it. But his continued immaturity and involvement in the Pacer combustion last spring conspired to limit Stephenson to "only" $9 million per year from Charlotte after Indiana decided they couldn't commit more than $8 million per year to him.


I use Lance Stephenson as an example of a player who was doubted coming out of college, dropped in the draft and needed significant time to develop into a big-time threat on the court. The Pacers got two quality years from Stephenson as he vastly outplayed his contract before demanding market price.

The talent was always there for Stephenson, just as its there for Goodwin. Can Goodwin become the Suns' version of Stephenson? He won't ever be a great passer, but Goodwin clearly has the potential to be a high scorer and lock-down defender in the pros.

It's quite possible that Goodwin's career timeline could align with Stephenson's, culminating in being one of the best players on the team by his fourth season.

To be a quality NBA rotation player, Goodwin has to become a good individual defensive player and at least passable at team defense. He can't have those mental errors where he loses focus and allows a guy to cut behind him time and time again on the baseline for easy scores at the rim. He can't be okay giving up buckets while just waiting to score on the other end.

Offensively, he needs to make jump shots away from the rim to open up those driving lanes, and he needs to be a threat to dump the pass off to a scorer so the opponent can't send three guys to the rim whenever he drives.

I see a very good NBA player in Goodwin. He has all the gifts and tools he needs to become a top player in the NBA some day. It might take him another year to become that player, and he'd still only be 21. Heck, it might take him two more years.

But that's okay. He is extremely young. Let's just give his time to grow into his gifts.

Goran Dragic continues to cruise. Through his third game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the Phoenix Suns point guard is averaging 20.3 points and 4.7 assists while shooting a ridiculous 70.6 percent...

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Goran Dragic lifts Slovenia over Korea with 22 points, 4 assists and great hustle. Final score is 89:72.

To start with, Goran is averaging 19 points, 5 assists and shooting 70% from the field in the tournament

Disclaimer: I may have gotten a bit sarcastic in parts, but you'll guess it without the appropriate font anyway.

First period

And Korea is in the lead! Well, it's only 2:0, but hey, it's something. And our guys are doing the impersonation of a sleeping beauty, losing 7:2, until Goran makes a good drive to the rim. Wake up boys. Slovenia takes the lead at 11:10 after a great run by Goran again, but our defense is colander-ish, Koreans are getting clean looks and are scoring well. And we're down 18:13 with 2 minutes left, playing like we're on vacation. Finally some life on D and the score is even but are you kidding me, playing like this. 21:19 after the first period, for Korea, and someone's going to get an earful.

Second period

Some good D to start the second but there's still no life on offense but at least our long range shots started falling so we're finally up a point.. Not for long, down again, but Gogi gets an offensive rebound to get us closer, but picks up his second personal foul, and one of the Koreans is hitting free throws off the backboard. Why aren't we up already?

Zoran Dragic outruns the entire Korean team for an and-one. The Dragon brothers are the only ones really tuned into the game. Ok, we'll let that airball slide. And we're up by 2 with 3 minutes left in the half. Gogi has 10 points, looking composed but come on, you don't need to play your all-NBA point guard against Korea the entire game. Zoran rolls through to the rim, he really is looking NBA-ready. It's 40:29 for Slovenia at the half. I think I might get a beer early this time. It's up to Zdovc to prod buttock in the locker room.

Third period

So, nice nap guys, rested your weary legs? Zoran has, a great drive to the rim and Goran misses an NBA three but makes up for it with a drive on the next two possessions, but come on, he could use some rest today. Our defense is still looking like a well-aired swiss cheese. Well I take it back, things are looking up, Lorbek gets 5 consecutive points and we're up by a whopping 9 points, Goran makes a great pass to Omic and it's an 11 point game, finally.

A time out and some good hustle plays and we're up by 15 after a great drive by, you guessed it, Goran Dragic. And the team picked up on Dragon brothers and their focus, we're finally playing like we are supposed to. After third, it's 70:56. Slovenia ouscored Korea 30:17 in the period.

Fourth period

Zdovc is still angry on our D, but we did get an open three...aaand one right back. And two missed freebies by our backup PG. Really, 0 for 2, and then a foul on a 3 point shot? Here comes Goran again when the score is 73:63 for Slovenia. Gogi makes a wide open three in transition, getting his eye in, amd then another one, he has 22 points already, running rings around the defense, kicking it out for wide open shots. Now if only those shots would fall more than they are. Slovenia is up by 17 points with 5 minutes left in the game. Zoran makes his first three to make it an 18-point game. Goran is resting now, let's hope he can stay out, but we're just chucking threes really, nobody's really trying to drive, and now a Korean player (one of four Kim's on the team) follows up a missed three with a one-handed dunk. And the final score is 89:72, and thank the heavens the game is over, it's obvious there's a real lack of motivation against the "exotic" opponents.


After a first half that was way too close for comfort, Slovenia finally regained their composure in the second and put things right. Now we need to shrug off the nervousness and prepare for Angola tomorrow. Another must-win game, especially as Australia Beat Lithuania earlier and should Slovenia win tomorrow, they are guaranteed the first place in the group (barring a big loss to Lithuania) and will not meet Team USA until the semi-finals.

Goran had 22 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds, though his shot from deep was a bit off, but he showed great hustle, some nifty assists and court vision and ball-handling skills (all of which we already knew, but it can't hurt to showcase his mojo on the world stage).

A win is a win is a win.

Everything is within reach...

There was no other outcome for this season. When the Phoenix Mercury began winning games at a historical clip and the defending champions proved they were as good as ever this collision became the epicenter of the WNBA.

Now it comes down to one game.

In Game One the Mercury showed what they look like at as close to perfection as they can be for a full game. Great offense, balance, team defense, hustle, and a raucous home crowd on their feet all game. They humbled the Lynx in a way that has been unheard of for the past four years during the playoffs.

Then in Game Two the table was set for a Mercury win, a sweep, and a step closer to their third WNBA Championship.


All of that was interrupted by a 13-0 fourth quarter run that ended a steady overall performance. Until that fourth quarter run the Mercury were in control maintaining the lead for just over 30 consecutive minutes. In that fourth quarter Maya Moore was the MVP of the league with 13 points (32 overall) and the supporting cast was as good as they usually are scoring 13 points themselves while limiting the Mercury to 15 points as a team.

The ball stuck on offense and defense was not able to defend the three-point line or stop the Lynx from getting to the free-throw line.

Overall the game just fell flat for the Mercury over time, as it did for the Lynx for three quarters in Game one, which is what happens when a great team is on their game. The Mercury are a great team. The Lynx are a great team. The Mercury were the better of the two teams in the first round and the Lynx were the better of the two teams in the second round. This is precisely why there is a round three.

"Everyone is disappointed but we knew it's going to be a tough series going in," Head Coach Sandy Brondello after the loss. "These are the two best teams in the WNBA, they are the defending champions."

All of this. The historic season. The milestones. The records. All of that was for one reason and that was to have the opportunity to play this game at home, in front of a legitimate X-Factor, where they have the home court advantage. The Lynx will have to come and take this away from the Mercury in a hostile environment and the Mercury will have to dethrone the defending champions.

Everything done in the regular season is a precursor to the post-season. Sneak in with an average record and you have an uphill battle to climb. Dominate the standings and you become the ladder.

In the history of the Western Conference Finals for the WNBA there have been six total deciding game threes all of which were won by the team with home-court advantage. Never has a road team come out victorious in this setting. The Comets (1999), the Sparks (2001, 2003), Storm (2004), the Silver Stars (2008), and the Mercury most recently in 2009 when they cut down the nets.

"We have an opportunity to go back to Arizona and have the "X-Factor" there to support us," Brondello on Game Three. "And it's our home court so we need to go in there with confidence and shake off the things we didn't do well."

Whether on the road or at home the team was consistent winning games no matter the setting, but the home crowd inspires the team just that much more than a road venue.

The team averages nearly four more points per game at home, one rebound per game more, and shoots the ball nearly lights out (50.3% field-goal 37.6% three) from nearly everywhere.

Penny Taylor is a perfect example of that.

In the last two home games she has been the straw that stirs the Mercury flavored drink averaging 11.5 points 9.5 rebounds 7.0 assists 2.5 steals and infinite hustle on both ends of the floor. Her defense, effort, and ability to just about do everything well on the court. Her play glued the team together in their game one struggle versus the Sparks and sparked the team to a route of the Lynx in game one of this series. Her all-around play is crucial.

The Lynx did not dominate the Mercury or do anything revolutionary. Moore played like an MVP and they made plays at the end of the game. Like Taurasi said after the loss, "At the end of the game it comes down to making plays and getting stops."

For the Mercury they have to execute their gameplan and produce.

"We have to control the things we can control," Taurasi on Game Three.

Moore was a non-factor in Game One and the MVP of the league in Game Two. Taurasi, the teams best overall player, was efficient in Game One and inefficient in Game Two. Getting back to playing their style at home could be the deciding factor there.

For the series the Mercury have bested the Lynx in nearly every statistical category. They have outscored them (162-153), outrebounded them (77-63), dished out more assists (35-29), caused more havoc with blocks and steals (28-20), and got to the free-throw line more (38/43 -- 32/38) attacking the basket.

While the Mercury have dominated the team statistics the series is dead even in the most crucial category.

Everything the Mercury worked for is here. Having home court advantage by being the top team in the conference gives them the privilege of playing at home in this intense, pressure packed game. This series is eight quarters old with each team splitting them four a piece.

Now it comes down to going out there and controlling what they can control. Their play and effort.

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