More photos » Christian Petersen - Getty Images
I'd Rather Dragon be Home in Phoenix With the Rest of His Teammates. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Reading Alex Laugan's copious FIBA report and subsequent reader comments got me cringing, er thinking. How do we feel about our Phoenix Sun players playing in international play?
I for one do not like it.
I get the whole nationalist appeal to a foreign player playing in America, and I believe it's good experience for some young players. But the NBA season and post-season is long enough. The grind is difficult enough even on a young body like Dragic's. Add in the FIBA games, and, well, I just don't like it.
I'm sure we could get into the numbers, the amount of minutes a player could play in these games, and the odds against injury of an already healthy player are probably fairly low. But I don't care. There's always a chance of a freak injury (knock on wood), and as I noted, the added miles on a pivotal player like Dragic, Turk, or Lopez are unnecessary.
I am very pleased Lopez didn't play for U.S.A. Obviously.
But if either Dragic or Turk suffered a serious injury, or even smaller lingering injury that would affect their NBA season, the Suns would be in some trouble.
This discussion brings us back to the subject of the Olympic/World Championship debate. While the rest of the world puts their best out there in sports, the U.S.A. once put out only amateurs. No one enjoyed losing, especially when the American best were sitting at home.
So if the American Pro Leagues (such as NBA, MLB) are together concerned enough about the health of their "investments," couldn't they in theory disallow participation in such events contractually? I supposed that could be another potential deal breaker in signing a player. Or, in some cases it may not matter at all.
If franchises or leagues together decided to limit their players involvement in international play, obviously American performance in such events could suffer. On the other hand, these events could give professional franchises another means to rate amateur athletes while also providing valuable experience to the youngsters.
Of course, the risk of injury is still out there for amateurs.
I digress, I'm mostly worried about our Suns right now.
What does the BSOTS think?
More photos » Frank Gunn - AP
Hedo Turkoglu, of Turkey and the Phoenix Suns. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Paul Coro has a nice writeup as well here.
First, Goran Dragic had a very good all-around game (10 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers) but moreso was clearly the best player on the court. With regard to the scouting report on Goran (force him right), Australia did that and often stymied him. But he quickly passed out of trouble and never seemed flustered. He just found the open man (ie. mismatch) created by the overplay.
Watching this Slovenian team is such deja-vu to the Phoenix Suns' style. Their whole game is based on guard play creating from each side of the court. They either end up with an open 3 (and 3-4 players at a time can hit it) or a garbage finish at the basket. Very few isolations, except at the start of the play to get the mismatches off and rolling. Crisp passing and clean shooting (16 of 33 from 3-pt land today) rule the day.
Then later, Turkey killed France. The game wasn't even close, with Turkey blowing it open to start the third quarter on a 10-0 run after leading by a wide margin already. The run was fueled by a pair of Turkoglu 3s from each angle (for the game: 20 pts in 25 minutes, 4-7 form 3, 6-11 overall, plus 3 assists and 4 rebounds).
Hedo Turkoglu was brilliant. If you watched this game, you could envision how he can help the Suns this year. Oh he's definitely a perimeter player. No posting up from Hedo. He will drive, dish and shoot from the outside. Fine, we know this. His offense will create offense for others, and we'll either love him when he hits the fallaway 3s or hate him when he doesn't.
But also, Turkey dominated defensively using a 2-3 half-court zone in which Hedo played the lower baseline spot. The same spot Amare played in the Suns' zone. And Turkey's defense was stifling. Just sayin'.
Slovenia and Turkey face off in the next round on Wednesday. One of them will move on. One will go home to rest before training camp.