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USA Basketball hopeful Gordon Hayward faces still competition - The Downbeat #1705

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Off-season polls, looking ahead to FIBA competition, Team USA cuts, Podcasts, AND MORE!

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

A mid-day Downbeat on Saturday . . . just because I forgot to do one on Friday. Anyway Utah Jazz fans, we get to talk about the international teams, from Team USA all the way down the FIBA rankings to what's happening with some of the more "fun" teams in Europe. There's also a podcast from Salt City Hoop's Andy that features a great number of guests . . . and of course, interesting player polls that will surely get you to re-think some of your preconceived notions of what's important to team building, and legacies. But before we go anywhere, we have to start with Moni!

First things first, I just wanted to make you all know that Moni works tirelessly, and for free, by hosting, and being the only person running the best Utah Jazz blog on the internet. Her solo-act puts every other blog to shame, and it should be a part of your daily web browsing. Check it out: JazzFanatical.Wordpress.com ! Personally, I love it because it gives me the unfiltered information that I need to follow the team, without all of the Jazz-media bubble propaganda. In fact, Moni puts the comments made by the Jazz brass up against what they've previously stated. She doesn't call people out on double-talk, but she presents the information in the most unbiased way possible. (A million times more unbiased than anything I write, for certain.) Also, it's the funniest site in Jazzland. The hard work of transcribing things is rivaled only by the time she puts into editing videos, making GIFs, and doing Photoshops.

For example, here's what she discovered LAST month about Randy Rigby had to say about Team USA Camps in 2015 . . . and in 2012:

Rigby in 2015:

"Well, you always worry about injuries. But you know what? It's, we never want to stop our players from having an opportunity to really improve their game and to play against the best. It also gives them an opportunity, and gives us an opportunity, to have them being showcased in front of the league, and also in front of the NBA, to actually allow them to continue to develop.

"We want them to be the future recognized All-Stars, and up-and-comers in this league. And so, and I think it's a very positive sign to our fans, and to them as players, of what they mean as potential future stars in the NBA, and I think it's a great compliment to the organization.

"So, we send the proper people and we make sure while they're there, we're, we have representation, and many times, while they're there, so that we're watching our assets and making sure they're, it pro-they're protected, and they're getting the right kind of care and nutrition, and that the right kind of development is going on. But we're very comfortable at this time with those opportunities."

- Randy Rigby, radio interview, 2015

Rigby in 2012:

"One of the concerns I have had is our athletes being around each other together and enjoying this idea [of playing together], and by them being around each other, some of our superstars, them talking and just saying, "Well, maybe we oughta stay together and formulate our own little squads in Miami or in New York" or wherever it might be. I think there's been a little bit of that atmosphere going on, and I don't like that competitive nature...

"You know? Deron Williams wants to compete against Dwight Howard instead of teaming up together after we've already gotten all of our money first, and then now let's make it easier for us to win...And so, one thing I think the Olympics has done a little bit is maybe invite that atmosphere of those guys coming together and wanting to do that."

- Randy Rigby, radio Interview, 2012

Of course, people are allowed to change their minds about things. D-Will was already an All-Star / All-NBA player and the team had made the playoffs and they had exposure. (More reasonable for the 2008 Olympics than the 2012 for Jazzfans.) So maybe wanting his guys to get a little more exposure NOW isn't a bad thing.

Still, though; I love this site. Once again, visit JazzFanatical.Wordpress.com EVERY-DAY!

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As for the 2016 USA Basketball Men's team, Gordon Hayward has some great competition for a prospective wing-spot. On the final 12 team roster for the Olympics in Rio I do expect the team to go with three point guards (or two point guards and one combo guard), and to go with at least four bigs (if not five). That leaves a maximum of six wing players (if one is a SG/PF and another is as SF/PF). So who was brought into Vegas this year?

Locks Team P1 P2 Notes
1 LeBron James Cavaliers All Possibly Top 5 Basketball player All-Time
2 Kevin Durant Thunder 3 4 Four capable
3 James Harden Rockets 2 1 Point capable
Tier I Team P1 P2 Notes
4 Carmelo Anthony Knicks 3 4 High profile player
5 Draymond Green Warriors 4 3 Game fits international style
6 Jimmy Butler Bulls 2 High profile player
7 Kawhi Leonard Spurs 3 Unselfish lockdown defender
8 Paul George Pacers 2 3 All-Around Talent
Tier II Team P1 P2 Notes
9 Bradley Beal Wizards 2 Shooter
10 Chandler Parsons Mavericks 3 2 Shooter
11 DeMar DeRozan Raptors 2 3 Slasher
12 Gordon Hayward Jazz 3 2 All-Around Talent
13 Klay Thompson Warriors 2 3 Shooter
14 Rudy Gay Kings 3 All-Around Talent
Tier III Team P1 P2 Notes
15 Harrison Barnes Warriors 3 4 Really? This guy?
16 Tobias Harris Magic 3 4
17 Victor Oladipo Magic 2 1

Even if the best case scenario, there are only three open spots after the three obvious locks. The rest of the players are placed in USA Basketball "name brand" tiers, and then listed alphabetically. I think you make the case that Gordon is the best player in his tier, but he's an All-Around guy, and not a specific specialist. When you fill out the wing roster you probably want specialists unless someone like LeBron is hurt. I think that Gordon is better than some of the people in the tier I placed ahead of him as well, but I don't know if USA Basketball thinks that way.

Further complicating things is the issue that Kobe Bryant wants to make this team too. Yeah. Great. I think we took for granted, if that's even possible, that John Stockton and Karl Malone were legendary epic talents who were no-brainers for every "Dream Team" Team USA put out. Karl Malone was even selected for the 2004 Olympics by Team USA but declined because of the poor health of his mother. It's just really hard to make this team.

So in a way there's no dishonor to Gordon not making it if he doesn't. And I think it's hilarious that what hurts him is the fact that he's so good at so many different things -- and isn't just a one trick pony.

Anyway, which six guys do you take for Team USA?

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Sooooo . . . there's not much basketball left to look forward to until training camp; however, we still have a few some FIBA tournaments on tap. One of the ones that exists that a) matters, and b) will be available to watch here in the USA will be EuroBasket 2015. It will take place between the 5th and 20th of September and be played at five different venues between France, Germany, Croatia, and Latvia. Beyond those four "host" nations there are 20 other nations involved, and lots of NBA players / NBA rights held stashes / Former NBA players / good players who aren't in the NBA will be suiting up.

The teams we probably care about the most are France (Rudy Gobert), Germany (Tibor Pleiss, and assistant coach Alex Jensen), Croatia (Ante Tomic), Russia (no Andrei Kirilenko, also possibly no Russia), and of course, the Ukraine (Kyrylo Fesenko). Not every team is in this to win it, some of them are in it just to increase their FIBA World ranking. I think that Ukraine may be one of those nations. According to the FIBA Website, Ukraine's men's team is ranked 40th in the World. They are behind such basketball powerhouses as Mexico, New Zealand, Tunisia, Korea, Senegal, Macedonia, Lebanon, Finland, and really, a lot of nations (39 to be exact). They just recently leapfrogged Qatar.

Still, they will be the team I'm rooting for because Fesenko is their team captain, because of seniority.

     DB 1705 - Fesenko Airport.PNG

This guy making his teammate feel awkward is your vet presence. Also, the 28 year old Fesenko isn't the same guy as the 22 year old one. He is still undeniably huge, but he knows the game a little more. Last year he was Player of the Week once in his league, and finished the season averaging 14.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg, and 1.2 apg, in 26.0 mpg while shooting 62.7 FG%. Not a lot of European teams have the size to compete with the Ukraine. It will be fun to see him bang against guys from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, and the Czech Republic in riveting Group D action. The next biggest guy is the Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas. And as far as twitter tells me, he just recently got hurt.

France is in Group A, and will face Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Poland, and Israel. They play on September 5th.

Germany is in Group B, and have a much tougher draw against Iceland, Turkey, Spain, Serbia, and Italy. The top four teams make it to the knockout stage, so Germany could go for 4th here and make it. But the top three will be Spain, Turkey, and Serbia.

Croatia is in Group C, and have the benefit of being the "home team" for this group. (France is the home team in Group A, Germany is the home team in Group B) I don't know if their home court advantages be bigger than what Croatia will have, though. They host the Netherlands, Greece, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Georgia. They should be the tops in their group, with Ante Tomic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Dario Saric, Damjan Rudez, Roko Ukic, and Mario Hezonja all on the club.

The games should be played on NBA TV, and really, they should do an HBO GO type of thing. Having a competitive tournament one month before training camp starts will always be interesting to debate about. But non-Americans are allowed to be as patriotic as Americans are. And there is no greater honor than to represent your nation when they need you the most.

DB  1705 - Fesenko Interview

"Mr. Fes, will you answer the Call of Duty?"

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Our very own My_Lo was on the Salt City Hoops podcast / simulcast on ESPN 700 radio on Thursday night. The host, our favorite Andy B. Larsen, also had on Aaron Falk (Beat writer for the SL Trib), and Jody Genessy (Beat writer for the Des News). it is well worth the listen . . . MyLo and Andy kinda debate about the point guard situation for the Jazz. In a post- Dante Exum world should the team go out there and get another guy, or is the team doing their best by standing pat with Trey Burke, Raul Neto, and Bryce Cotton? Mychal's part is the last 15 mins.

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Who is the best Wing-player in Utah Jazz history? (Listed from most total career Jazz minutes to least:)

Player G Min MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG BARPS
1 Darrell Griffith 802 22,441 27.98 16.14 3.32 2.12 1.22 0.32 23.12
2 Andrei Kirilenko 726 22,336 30.77 12.21 5.54 2.77 1.40 2.02 23.94
3 Bryon Russell 724 19,499 26.93 9.37 3.91 1.38 1.16 0.28 16.10
4 Adrian Dantley 482 18,751 38.90 29.55 6.23 3.67 1.10 0.13 40.67
5 Ron Boone *
586 18,472 31.52 16.70 4.42 4.00 0.76 0.13 26.02
6 Jeff Hornacek 577 18,051 31.28 14.28 2.88 3.87 1.27 0.22 22.51
7 Matt Harpring 513 13,098 25.53 11.65 4.83 1.34 0.72 0.18 18.71
8 Pete Maravich 330 12,654 38.35 25.33 4.35 5.59 1.42 0.28 36.86
9 Gordon Hayward 367 10,878 29.64 13.43 3.73 3.34 0.99 0.46 21.94
10 Jeff Malone 309 10,714 34.67 18.58 2.64 1.88 0.63 0.08 23.81

The Ron Boone info includes his time with the Utah Stars in the ABA, just because damn-it, it should.