The Detroit Pistons are a team with some newfound stability. Stan Van Gundy has taken over and is looking to lead the team back into the playoffs and eventually back into contention. They have one of the most talented young players in the game in Andre Drummond, who will look to continue to blossom this season, to build around. Thanks to some win-now roster moves in the offseason, the pieces are in place for marked improvement.
Basketball Insiders takes a look at the 2014-2015 Detroit Pistons…
Five Guys Think
Since Flip Saunders was fired back in 2008, the Detroit Pistons have gone through a staggering six head coaches, the most of any team in the league over that period of time, but the future looks pretty bright now that Stan Van Gundy is bringing some stability to both that position and that of President of Basketball Operations, mercifully vacated this offseason by the mercurial Joe Dumars. There is a lot to like in Detroit right now, but most of that optimism resides in the frontcourt, with burgeoning superstar Andre Drummond coming into his own and steady big man Greg Monroe heading into a contract year. Free agent acquisitions like Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin were perhaps more expensive than they should have been, but they all add shooting to a team that really needed it, and with the new coach and another year with a promising core, it looks like they’ll be right back in the conversation for a playoff spot this year, even if Josh Smith only shoots 20 percent from the field.
3rd Place – Central Division
– Joel Brigham
Former president of basketball operations Joe Dumars did succeed in bringing a title back to Detroit, but by the end of his tenure at the helm it was apparent a change in philosophy was needed. Enter Stan Van Gundy who is now calling the personnel shots and serving as the team’s head coach. Van Gundy was extremely active retooling the roster via free agency over the summer. While the Pistons, on paper, have one of the most talented frontcourts in the league, their supporting cast left much to be desired last season. Keep an eye on the relationship between forward Josh Smith and Van Gundy at the start of the season which could be an early indicator of the team’s trajectory.
4th Place – Central Division
– Lang Greene
Bringing in Stan Van Gundy was an excellent move for the Pistons, as he’s one of the best head coaches in the NBA and should be able to get the most out of their players. Detroit also has a superstar-in-the-making on their hands in Andre Drummond. In the final month of last season, Drummond averaged 18.4 points, 17.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent from the field. The 21-year-old should pick up right where he left off this season, and his experience with Team USA and the addition of Van Gundy should make him even better. It seems that Van Gundy will use Drummond like he used Dwight Howard in Orlando – running the offense through him and surrounding him with shooters. Detroit should make strides this season and will be one of several teams competing for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’re playing in a very tough Central Division.
3rd place – Central Division
– Alex Kennedy
With Greg Monroe finally agreeing to sign the club’s one-year qualifying offer, newly installed head coach Stan Van Gundy will have at least one season to try to make sense of the Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe triumvirate. With Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin added to the team’s rotation, along with Brandon Jennings, the Pistons have a fairly talented top seven. They are clearly no match for the Cleveland Cavaliers or Chicago Bulls, but the mere presence of Van Gundy alone should help the team improve from last season’s 29-53 debacle. Playoffs may still be a long shot, but with Drummond seemingly in the team’s long-term plans, Van Gundy’s presence lends a credibility to the the franchise that immediate past president Joe Dumars seemed to have lost. This season is the first chapter in a new beginning, but the story is just beginning.
4th place – Central Division
– Moke Hamilton
Beyond all the control and money, it’s easy to see why the Pistons were able to get Stan Van Gundy to walk away from his self-imposed hiatus from coaching. This is a team with a ton of talent. They haven’t necessarily meshed together well up to this point, but Van Gundy has a lot to work with and should be able to get more out of guys immediately with his system and philosophy. People tend to forget in their criticism of the Pistons players how much instability there’s been at the head coaching position over the last couple of years. That’s now a thing of the past, and we should see Detroit climb closer to the top eight in the East as a result.
3rd place – Central Division
– Yannis Koutroupis
Top of the List
Top Offensive Player: The Pistons had their fair share of struggles on the offensive end this past season, largely due to their lack of perimeter shooting. While the team may have struggled from the outside, Greg Monroe was once again very effective in the low to mid post. Although Monroe wasn’t the Pistons top scorer last season, finishing third in per game scoring with an average of 15.2 points per night behind Josh Smith (16.4) and Brandon Jennings (15.5) in that category, he certainly was the most efficient. Monroe was markedly better from the field than both Smith and Jennings shooting 49.7 percent, compared to 41.9 percent for Smith and 37.3 percent for Jennings. Monroe, who just recently officially signed the Pistons qualifying offer, will be hungry to put together another productive season and prove he is worthy of a big long-term deal.
Top Defensive Player: There is no doubt that Josh Smith fell short of expectations on the offensive end last season. Despite his inferior play offensively, he was, like he has been throughout his career, very active defensively. Smith was the team leader in blocks and finished second in steals in his first year with the club. He is big enough to go down low and battle with most fours, while still being quick enough to step out on the perimeter and match up with opposing wings. Again, while Detroit surely wasn’t pleased with what Smith provided offensively, it can’t be denied that he is still a very talented defender and will continue to be in 2014-2015.
Top Playmaker: Brandon Jennings, like Josh Smith, arrived in Detroit last summer. Both were brought in with the expectation that they would push the Pistons right into the thick of the second tier in the East, behind Indiana and Miami but give them the chance to compete with the rest of the pack. That obviously never came to fruition, but on the bright side Jennings had a career year passing the ball. He was able to make a sizable jump from his career average of 6.1 assists per game, dishing out 7.6 assists a night in 2013-2014. Jennings and Andre Drummond built a nice chemistry with each other and connected frequently this past season. Despite Jennings having a down year overall, he improved his passing and that is one thing that Pistons fans can take solace in.
Top Clutch Player: The Pistons found themselves on the wrong end of a couple buzzer beaters in 2013-2014, being victimized by both Dion Waiters and Damien Lilliard on last second game winners. That is one trend they will aim to reverse this coming season. Brandon Jennings may be the best shot creator on the roster, but the best option in the clutch remains Greg Monroe. Jennings is just too inefficient and too willing to take poor looks to be trusted in crunch time. The previous statement also, just as easily, could be made about Josh Smith. Monroe is the Pistons most consistent offensive player and is the guy who gives the team the best chance to score when the pressure is on.
Top Unheralded Player: The Pistons bench was one of their biggest weaknesses in 2013-2014. They allowed opposing benches to shoot a league high 46.7 percent from the field, while their second unit was near the bottom of the league, shooting 41.9 percent. One guy who the Pistons brought in who should help improve the team’s bench is D.J. Augustin. Augustin comes to Detroit after a terrific season with the Bulls. He will likely start the season behind Brandon Jennings, but will offer the Pistons a great option at point guard off the bench.
Best New Addition: After a very busy offseason in Detroit there are quite a few new additions to choose from. The Pistons not only made moves to their roster but to their front office as well. The biggest addition in long run may be Stan Van Gundy, he joins the team as the new head coach and will also serve as the president of basketball operations. As far as the best roster addition, that goes to Jodie Meeks. It could be argued that the price tag for Meeks, the Pistons signed him to a three-year contract worth a total of $18.81 million, may be a little steep. However, the addition of Meeks addresses a pressing need for the team, and that’s a lack of three-point shooting. The Pistons were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league last season, they shot only 32.1 percent from downtown and finished 27th in the league in total three point shots made. Meeks is coming off the best year of his career shooting the ball after shooting 40.1 percent from deep with Lakers. His shooting should prove beneficial from day one.
– John Zitzler
Who We Like
1. Andre Drummond: The future of the Pistons starts and ends with Andre Drummond. The young big man has out of this world potential and has the chance to be a truly special player. At only 21 years old, Drummond is already one of the top centers in the league. He has quickly developed into an elite rebounder; his massive frame combined with his impressive mobility allows Drummond to dominate the glass on most nights. When you consider how productive Drummond has already been in his young career and how much room he still has to grow, he is easily the Pistons most valuable asset going forward. He will be big factor next season and even bigger factor for years to come.
2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: Caldwell-Pope will enter his second season as a pro this coming season after a rookie season where he showed signs that he could be a promising player down the road. In his first year of NBA action, Caldwell-Pope played just under 20 minutes a game, experience that should prove very valuable for him next year. With the Pistons making a sizeable investment in Jodie Meeks, he is the favorite to be the starting two guard, however, Caldwell-Pope certainly has the talent to challenge Meeks for that role. He will look to build off the momentum of a strong Orlando Summer League where he led the league in scoring, averaging 24 points a game.
3. Greg Monroe: Monroe has been one the most productive options for the Pistons since being drafted out of Georgetown four years ago. Over his short career, Monroe has averaged 14 points and nine rebounds a game. As well, during his four year tenure with the team Monroe has been remarkably durable, missing only three games over that span. However, his long-term future with the team is a bit cloudy, he is only under contract for one more year after signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Pistons. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Monroe he is eager for the chance to play under new coach Stan Van Gundy. “I look forward to playing for Coach Van Gundy and his staff,” said Monroe. “He has a proven track record and I’m excited about working with my teammates to get better and prepare for the season.”
4. Stan Van Gundy: Van Gundy will bring some fresh blood into an organization that, as of late, hasn’t appeared to have too much direction. His experience and success in Orlando is something he’ll be able draw from as he looks to build the Pistons into a contender. In particular, the time spent working with Dwight Howard will be especially useful in the development of Andre Drummond. Van Gundy has a career winning percentage of 64.1% and has had success in the playoffs. The Pistons aren’t going to become a contender overnight but will be in good hands going forward with Van Gundy at the helm.
– John Zitzler
The frontcourt duo of Drummond and Monroe will once again do much of the heavy lifting for the Pistons. The two proved last year, despite some skepticism, that they can not only coexist together in the paint, but excel. The combination will again be a major concern for opponents and a major strength for the Pistons.
– John Zitzler
Even with the acquisitions of Jodie Meeks, DJ Augustin and Caron Butler, all capable three point shooters, it’s hard to imagine the Pistons lighting it up from the perimeter. The problem being that two of Pistons highest usage rate players, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, are also two of teams’ most inefficient players. Both settle for poor outside shots far too often and despite their past struggles, and so far haven’t been willing to adjust their game. If the team hopes to improve offensively, the first step will be reigning in both Smith and Jennings.
– John Zitzler
The Salary Cap
The Pistons dropped under the cap this offseason, using their space to sign free-agent veterans Jodie Meeks, D.J. Augustin and Caron Butler. Greg Monroe, formerly a restricted free agent, chose to accept Detroit’s $5.5 million qualifying offer — giving the forward/center the ability to block any trade this season. Monroe will also be unrestricted next summer. Meanwhile, the Pistons have $3.1 million in remaining cap space (plus the $2.7 million Room Exception, if that space is used). The issue now is roster space; the Pistons are locked into 16 guaranteed players — one more than the regular-season maximum. Will Bynum, who is guaranteed $2.9 million for the coming season, may be expendable with the addition of guards Augustin and Meeks.
– Eric Pincus
The last few years have been a far cry from the halcyon days of a franchise that produced some of the most memorable defenses of all-time in the late 80s and mid 2000s. Last year I cited the Pistons and the Charlotte Bobcats as fascinating test cases for the value of new coaches for bad defenses. The Bobcats rocketed to sixth in defense under the stewardship of Steve Clifford, while the Pistons remained rather miserable under Maurice Cheeks and John Loyer despite the infusion of defensive talent in Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy, a defensive guru in previous stops in Miami and Orlando, is now the coach and President of Basketball Operations. He will provide yet another fascinating data point in how coaching can affect defense with most of the major players back from last year.
This is certainly a team with a ton of raw defensive talent. Andre Drummond and Smith are both mobile and bouncy, and Smith has been an elite defender from the power forward spot in previous years. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is also an excellent athlete with a nose for the ball at shooting guard, assuming he plays his way into significant minutes.
Another reason to believe the Pistons may improve is the fact that they very well might have played far below their potential toward the end of last season in an endeavor to keep their draft pick, which was top-eight protected and owed to the now-Hornets. Detroit finished with the eighth-worst record, but Cleveland leapfrogged the Pistons in the lottery, pushing the pick to ninth (and to the Hornets). While there was no particularly overt tanking behavior, the Pistons did finish a mere 8-24 under Loyer after going 21-29 under Cheeks, leading one to believe the desire to keep the pick may have resulted in worse play.
Throw in the fact the Pistons underperformed their Pythagorean record by two games last year, and there is ample reason to believe the squad will be substantially better this year.
The Pistons register an 18 win improvement over last year’s 29-53 abomination. A team with this kind of potential on defense has no business ranking 25th defensively as they did last year, and Van Gundy gets them to their potential–above the league average. Caldwell-Pope builds on a strong summer league and provides three and D on the wing as the starting shooting guard, the overpriced shooting Van Gundy signed during summer spaces the floor, and Brandon Jennings and Smith bounce back. Drummond, Smith, and Greg Monroe distribute the minutes evenly among them, allowing them to stay fresh and crash the offensive boards at a furious rate. Van Gundy employs some sort of automatic shocking device that eventually provokes a negative Pavlovian response whenever he tried to put Drummond, Smith, and Monroe in the game together, and the Pistons grab a mid-tier seed in the East.
An anonymous whistle-blower in the Pistons organization alerts OSHA to Van Gundy’s shocking device, preventing him from using it. Or, more realistically, Van Gundy realizes that he has nobody to play the three aside from Smith, and trots out the three-headed monster due to a lack of other options. Caldwell-Pope is not ready, and Jodie Meeks, Smith, and Caron Butler prevent any significant defensive improvement on the wings. Monroe struggles defensively, and Drummond continues to exhibit a curious inability to defend shots at the rim despite his athleticism. Smith and Jennings prove last year was no fluke offensively, and the spacing is again awful. By January, Van Gundy the President longs to relieve Van Gundy the coach so he can spend more time with his family.
– Nate Duncan
Can Stan Van Gundy fix the Pistons?
The Pistons are a team with a number of burning questions that now, all that must be answered by Stan Van Gundy. Can the team trade Josh Smith? Is Brandon Jennings the point guard of the future? Should the team offer Greg Monroe a long-term deal, and if so, at what price next summer? Van Gundy certainly has some tough decisions ahead of him, but with his history there is no reason to believe that he isn’t the right guy for the job. Next season will mark the first year of the Stan Van Gundy era in Detroit, it will be very interesting to see what types of changes he has in store to help bring the Pistons back to prominence.
– John Zitzler
2021 Olympics Basketball Betting Picks
On Wednesday, the Olympics’ schedule for men’s basketball begins with the United States taking on Iran at 12:40 a.m. (EST). This is one of the listed games for Group A. For the preview, prediction, and betting picks for the USA vs. Iran matchup, this other article is available for bettors. Then, for Group B, Italy will play against Australia at 4:20 a.m. (EST). For the second Group A matchup on Wednesday, the Czech Republic will face France at 8:00 a.m. (EST). These games can be watched live via Peacock, NBC’s exclusive streaming service. Viewers can also watch the televised games with NBA League Pass.
Bovada and MyBookie are two excellent betting sites for gambling on men’s basketball during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The best NBA betting apps are from MyBookie, BetUS, Bovada, Intertops, and BetOnline. When bettors use MyBookie, the app offers a $500 deposit bonus for new users. For the Italy vs. Australia and France vs. Czech Republic games, if an individual wants to bet on the best moneyline, DraftKings is the superior choice. For a side note, these games are being played at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Italy vs. Australia – Group B
Spread: Italy +7 (+112), Australia -7 (-108)
Over/Under: -108, -112
Best Moneyline: Italy +240, Australia -330
Accessibility: NBC Sports App
Italy Starting Lineup:
PG: Nico Mannion
SG: Stefano Tonut
SF: Simone Fontecchio
PF: Michele Vitali
C: Nicolo Melli
Australia Starting Lineup:
PG: Patty Mills
SG: Matthew Dellavedova
SF: Joe Ingles
PF: Aron Baynes
C: Jock Landale
Italy defeated Germany 92-82 on Sunday, July 25. Forward Simone Fontecchio led the team in statistics, finishing his performance with 20 points, four rebounds, three steals, and one block. Stefano Tonut had 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Italy’s bench players combined for 28 points in their 10-point win over Germany. Hawks’ forward Danilo Gallinari scored 18 points from the bench, too. One big advantage the Italians had over the Germans was their three-point shooting accuracy. They shot 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) from beyond the arc. Plus, Italy had a total of 11 steals overall, and this was on top of an 11-0 run to help seal their first victory.
Moreover, Australia defeated Nigeria 84-67 on Sunday, July 25. The top story after this win was Australia’s bench players outscoring their starters. The Aussies’ starters scored 26 points versus Nigeria, while the reserve players had 58 points! A win is a win, but some players needed to elevate their intensity, such as Jazz’s Joe Ingles. In 33 minutes, he scored only 11 points In 35 minutes played, guard Patty Mills ended his performance with 25 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Forward Nick Kay had 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one block. While the Aussies did out-rebound the Nigerians 44 to 38, they also had a much higher free throw shooting percentage, shooting 17-for-19 (89.5 percent) from the free throw line.
Prediction – Australia wins by four points
Australia is the favored team over Italy. They held Nigeria to 67 points. Aside from Gallinari’s decent performance from the bench against Germany, some bettors are not expecting the Italians to be able to keep up with the Aussies this time around. According to Bovada, Australia has -350 odds of defeating Italy, whereas the Italians have +275 odds of pulling off the upset. In all fairness, picking Australia is the best bet. Not to mention, it is the safest bet concerning the uncertainties each of the players are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
France vs. Czech Republic – Group A
Spread: France -9.5 (-105), Czech Republic +9.5 (-115)
Best Moneyline: France -450, Czech Republic +355
Accessibility: NBC Sports App
France Starting Lineup:
PG: Nando De Colo
SG: Evan Fournier
SF: Nicolas Batum
PF: Guerschon Yabusele
C: Rudy Gobert
Czech Republic Starting Lineup:
PG: Tomas Satoransky
SG: Blake Schilb
SF: Jaromir Bohacik
PF: Ondrej Balvin
C: Jan Vesely
France defeated Team USA 83-76 this past Sunday. In 34 minutes played, shooting guard Evan Fournier ended his performance with 28 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert finished his game with 14 points, nine rebounds, and one assist. The bench players combined for 17 points against USA. Moustapha Fall scored seven points and acquired four rebounds. On top of Brooklyn Nets’ small forward Kevin Durant fouling out, Team USA missing too many baskets led to a satisfying victory for France. The French shot 29-for-62 (46.8 percent) from the field, whereas the Americans shot 25-for-69 (36.2 percent) from the field. France also out-rebounded USA 42 to 36. Furthermore, Fournier and Gobert are once again starting for France versus Czech Republic.
In the Czech Republic’s 84-78 victory over Iran, bench player Patrik Auda led the team in scoring, with a total of 16 points in 23 minutes played. He also had six rebounds against Iran. Blake Schilb had 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, and one block in 24 minutes played. Schilb is projected to be in the starting lineup against France. While the Iranians shot 31-62 (50 percent) from the field, the Czechs had a field goal shooting percentage of 44.6 percent. This was based on shooting 33-for-74. If the Czech players prefer quantity over quality, they will most likely struggle versus France’s starting lineup. Additionally, it helped for the team to out-rebound Iran 43 to 33. We’ll see if the Czech Republic can maintain their rebounding abilities against fresh NBA-tested competitors.
Prediction – France wins by six points
Sports bettors might be tempted to pick an upset on Wednesday, but then again, we have little data to base our predictions on this early during the Tokyo Olympics. France was good enough to defeat Team USA, so picking them to win over the Czech Republic makes perfect sense. And, when we look at the number of different French players who have NBA experience, the best possible pick becomes as clear as daylight. Expect the Czechs to hang with the French throughout the majority of the four quarters. However, France will pull away in the closing minutes to earn their second victory in the Tokyo Games.
Team USA vs. Iran – Preview, Prediction, & Betting Picks
Team USA is coming off their first Olympics’ loss in men’s basketball since 2004. In the post-game press conference after USA lost 83-76 against France, head coach Greg Popovich said, “When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed. I don’t understand the word ‘surprised.’ That sort of disses the French team, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30. That’s a hell of a team.” Leading up to this matchup, another contributing factor for the team’s loss was Wizards‘ guard Bradley Beal bowing out of the Olympics after being placed in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols during training camp. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Beal averaged 31.3 points per game. Regarding the injury report, as of July 27th, there are no reported injuries for these two teams.
Moreover, the USA’s second men’s basketball game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is schedule for Wednesday, July 28th at 12:40 a.m. (EST). Unfortunately, the next two USA men’s basketball games are not guaranteed to air live on television in the United States. However, the games can be watched on NBC channels (delayed) and NBC’s exclusive streaming service known as Peacock. Plus, the NBC Sports mobile app will stream the games live. Free trials are also available for Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Sling TV, or AT&T TV Now. The game can also be watched via NBA League Pass. For betting on medal and group winners for men’s basketball, Bovada offers the best service.
Date & Time: Wednesday, July 28th at 12:40 a.m. (EST)
Location: Saitama Super Arena; Saitama, Japan
Availability: Peacock (live) & NBC (delayed)
Spread: USA -41.5 (-110) (per DraftKings Sportsbook)
Best Moneyline: USA -8000, Iran +2500 (per DraftKings Sportsbook)
Team USA Starting Lineup:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Draymond Green
C: Bam Adebayo
Team Iran Starting Lineup:
PG: Mohammad Jamshidi
SG: Behnam Yakhchali
SF: Arsalan Kazemi
PF: Samad Nikkhah Bahrami
C: Hamed Haddadi
Bovada and MyBookie are two available betting sites for gambling on men’s basketball during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The best NBA betting apps are from MyBookie, BetUS, Bovada, Intertops, and BetOnline. With MyBookie, the app offers a $500 deposit bonus for new users. For the USA vs. Iran matchup, if an individual wants to bet on the best moneyline, DraftKings is another option as well.
USA vs. Iran Preview
Referencing Bovada’s Olympics odds, Team USA is the favorite to win gold in men’s basketball, with odds showing -250. Slovenia and Australia are tied for second, possessing +800 odds. With odds showing +75000, Iran ranks 12th for odds to win the gold medal. They could still win their fourth consecutive gold medal in basketball, but this team appears to be different from previous USA men’s basketball teams. Their performance against the French was pitiful. Anyways, according to the DraftKings Sportsbook, this past Sunday, USA opened as 12.5-point favorites versus Iran. However, yesterday the oddsmakers changed their projection to 29.5-point favorites. As of Tuesday, July 27, DraftKings Sportsbook has USA listed as 41.5-point favorites over Iran.
Team USA’s starting lineup in the Olympics consisted of Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Bam Adebayo. In the team’s 83-76 loss against France, with a total of 18 points, Milwaukee Bucks‘ guard Jrue Holiday led the team in scoring. However, Holiday’s performance was not sufficient enough to carry the team. His teammates around him failed to contribute at a higher level. In 25 minutes played, Bam Adebayo closed out his performance with 12 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. Damian Lillard also scored 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists. For the winning team, the leading scorer for France was Evan Fournier, finishing his game with 28 points and four rebounds. The French ended their first win on a 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 25, 2021
While the turnovers and field goal percentages were identical between these two teams, the difference-makers were personal fouls. For free throw shooting percentage, France shot 17-for-24 (70.8 percent) from the free throw line, whereas USA shot 16-for-21 (76.2 percent). Additionally, France committed 21 fouls in the match, which was all right considering USA had a total of 25 personal fouls called against them. Despite small forward Kevin Durant scoring 10 points, he also fouled out of the game. This was another poor game plan by Coach Popovich. This was especially evident in the team’s consecutive losses against Australia and Nigeria during those exhibition games. Practice games or not, USA looked less than mediocre, never mind lethargic and disinterested.
Then again, Iran is also trying to recover from an 84-78 loss versus Czech Republic. Guard Behnam Yakhchali led the team on the stat sheet, ending his performance with 23 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 36 minutes played. In 29 minutes on the court, Mohammad Jamshidi had 16 points, one rebound, and seven assists. For the Czech Republic, with 16 points, Patrik Auda led his team in points. While the Czechs out-rebounded the Iranians 43 to 33, they also had fewer turnovers. The winning team had 15 turnovers, while Iran had 21 overall.
The team came close to erasing a 21-point deficit. Iran’s past starting lineup was Benam Yakhchali, Mohammad Jamshidi, Samad Bahrami, Arsalan Kazemi, and Hamed Haddadi. Though, this is subject to change. The projected starting lineup is listed in the game details section shown above. Yakhchali will once again be returning as a guard, and of course, he led the team in scoring against the Czech Republic.
A brave Iran nearly erased a 21-point deficit, coming as close as 4 late in the fourth, but Czech Republic prevail to open their Olympic account! 🇨🇿
— FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) July 25, 2021
Prediction: USA wins by 15+ points
Team USA is nearly a 42-point favorite against Iran. Based on their previous 89-79 defeat versus France, it is certainly hard to believe this team will beat a team by 40 points. Many bettors were not expecting for Durant to foul out, either. After their seven-point loss, Bovada adjusted the odds of USA winning their group. Now, France has the favored -550 odds of winning Group A, whereas USA has +400 odds. Though, between USA and Iran right now, the Americans are obviously the best of the worst. All things considered, USA will likely have their first bounce-back victory, but the question right now is, how many points will they win by?
Some bettors are speculating a 12-point margin of victory, however, others are suggesting 23 points. A prediction of at least 15 points sounds reasonable. Why? It’s because Iran’s men’s basketball team has lost multiple games already. In the FIBA World Cup Qualifying Round (2019) for Group F, Japan defeated Iran 70-56. Then, Spain defeated Iran 73-65 later in the year. Iran losing 84-78 versus the Czech Republic just adds to this notable trend. Nevertheless, while some could say that Iran is due for their first win, so is the USA. The Americans have not lost multiple games since 2004. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, the USA lost 92-73 versus Puerto Rico, 94-90 against Lithuania, and 89-81 versus Argentina. Time will tell if the Americans can turn over a new leaf.
NBA Trade Rumors: Bradley Beal never requested a trade, remains committed to Wizards
This NBA offseason has been a frustrating one for some die-hard fans, especially Washington Wizards‘ fans. On June 18, 2021, news broke concerning shooting guard Bradley Beal announcing his commitment to play for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. A few weeks ago, it was reported by USA Basketball that Beal would not play in the Tokyo Olympics. And, this was because the 28-year-old three-time NBA All-Star had to enter the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Missouri native.
In an interview published by CBS Sports on July 15, 2021, regarding the chance to play for USA Basketball, Beal told CBS’ Michael Kaskey-Blomain, “It’s an honor. It’s something that you take for granted. Not a lot of guys in the league get this opportunity. We all know that. We didn’t live up to what we wanted to a few years ago (in the 2019 FIBA World Cup), and so now we have an opportunity to get back what’s rightfully ours.”
In 2010, Beal won the FIBA-Under 17 World Cup MVP. Though, everyone can see his passion for basketball. Needless to say, it is an awful experience for any athlete to have to bow out of the Olympics. In addition to this unfortunate news, there is all kinds of speculation across the Internet concerning Beal’s future with the Wizards. From Boston.com, it was reported two days ago that Beal would welcome a trade if he was moved to the Boston Celtics. The report also included three other teams: Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. This latest news information was originally reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Last Saturday, Fischer stated, “Boston’s path to securing Beal would appear far more costly, as the Celtics’ offer almost certainly has to include Jaylen Brown and all of their future draft picks they are able to part with.”
Word has spread across front offices around the NBA: Bradley Beal is weighing whether to request a trade from the Washington Wizards.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) July 24, 2021
Although the report could still be accurate, many fans are asking for more evidence to help support this claim. This is Beal’s team; he was drafted by Washington third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Would the Wizards be wiling to trade their star player for Jaylen Brown and potential future draft picks? This remains to be seen. Plus, everyone should keep in mind that although Beal was open to a trade, at least he never demanded an immediate trade. The latest news is likely just trade rumors and meaningless gossip.
Moreover, the 2020-21 Wizards finished 34-38 (.472), ranking third in the Southeast Division and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference. The team lost four games to one in the first round of the postseason against the 76ers. The Wizards have not appeared in the NBA Finals since the 1978-79 season, and they have not won the championship since the 1977-78 season, when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in Game 7 105-99. Not to mention, the Wizards were called the Bullets back then.
After the season ended, the organization agreed to part ways with head coach Scott Brooks. Perhaps Coach Brooks leaving the team is leading Beal to ask more questions about his own future. According to one report by NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk, Beal was irked over the organization hiring Wes Unseld Jr. over Sam Cassell for the vacant head coach position. How much does this play into trade talks?
Well, we all know that Beal is a competitive player, so three consecutive losing seasons by Washington might not be cutting it for him. Then again, a great player should be willing to give a new coach a chance. Last season, in 60 games played, the six-foot-three guard averaged 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. The 9-year NBA veteran also shot 48.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the 2021 All-Star Game, in 31 minutes played, Beal scored 26 points.
On October 17, 2019, Beal signed a two-year, $72 million extension with Washington. He earned $28.7 million this past season, and he will earn $34.5 million in the upcoming 2021-22 season. Beal’s player option for the 2022-23 season is also $37.2 million. So, folks should keep in mind that Beal is still showing his loyalty to the Wizards. He is only considering a trade request before the draft. The key word here is “considering.” Having said this, not even LeBron James is safe from a trade in this league. Ok, maybe only James is safe.
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