Top ranked Team USA pulled out a victory earlier today against third ranked Argentina in Barcelona. Donning the Dream Team ’92 jerseys, Team USA had command of this game pretty much throughout, despite a tight score of 86-80. Team USA is absolutely loaded, and while I can see them struggling against the front court of Spain, the team should be on their way to another gold medal this summer in London.
Argentina though can pose a problem for the Americans if they see each other again down the line. After a rough start, the Argentinians got back to their tough, hard-nosed style of team basketball. Pick’n'rolls, sharp cuts and good shooting got them back in it. Their point guard, Pablo Prigioni, who most of you know has agreed to come play for he Knicks next season, personified the style that team plays.
Prigioni is a veteran and a professional on the basketball court. He shows no flash in his game. He is a north/south point guard who understands that the ball moves faster with him passing it than it does with him over dribbling it. If Prigioni showed anything today, it is that he is a very willing passer and that if you can get open, he will certainly find you in your spot. Much like Jason Kidd, Prigioni has great court vision and appears to read plays even before they develop. A pick’n'roll point, Prigioni showed an understanding of how to feed teammates in position where they can excel and put the ball in the basket.
For players like Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, Prigioni will excel with them in the pick’n'roll. For players like James White, Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, Prigioni will find them at the rim for easy oops if they can find a way to slash behind the defense. For a player like Steve Novak, Prigioni will be able to find him on the 3 point line even when the defense loses track of the sharpshooter.
Prigioni did not show much athleticism on the court. He did not show that he could blow by guys like Westbrook, Deron or Chris Paul. Because of that, he did not show much in the way of penetrating and getting to the basket. In a league filled with quick, young points, Prigioni might find some problems getting by those players. from that perspective, Prigioni will have to adapt (and can have problems adapting) to the NBA game With that said though, Prigioni adapted to the pace of the game and looks like the guy of guy who can control a pace for his team.
Most importantly, Prigioni is a mistake-free style of player. I do not have a box score in front of me, but I would be surprised if he had many turnovers. He made a lot of sure passes and showed a strong handle against the NBA’s elite PGs. Given the number of turnovers that Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis committed last season, points like Kidd and Prigioni who have good ball security should be a breath of fresh air for Knick fans.
All in all, I expect Prigioni to play next season. He is the third string guy on the team, but I would guess that Kidd will not play in 82 games next season. Minutes will eventually come for this guy, and when they do, Knicks fans should be happy that they have a stable veteran type to fill in the rotation. For a career Euro player, it will be interesting to see if he can adapt to the NBA style at age 35. Given his passing strength, perhaps the more athletic teammates will showcase his abilities to find teammates. I am curious to see him play again.