7/25/12

What Olympics Mean For Raptors?

There is a common over reaction to what happens at the Olympics. It really can have an impact on players as individuals to degree. Steve Nash points to his time with Team Canada as a big part of his development into an eventual two time MVP in the NBA. However, what did jumping over a french dude and winning a Gold Medal do for Vince Carter? Well it made him even more famous but in terms of his NBA Career it was pretty much status quo. Jose Calderon has had a great deal of success with Spain and also had some injuries that he brought back with him to his NBA Season.  I guess the point is whatever happens at the Olympics does not always have an impact on how a player plays going forward. It can have an impact both positive and negative but it does not guarantee anything.

First and foremost these games are all played under FIBA rules not NBA Rules so that is a bit of a difference. You have a three point line that is slightly closer. There are just a lot of subtle differences. As we sit on the verge of the Olympics we got a taste of the over reaction that is to come yesterday. Jose Calderon crossed over Deron Williams. Oh wow!!! This is great Jose is going be awesome now. Reality is no matter what happens to Jose in London two things are still likely true. One he will not be the starter for the Toronto Raptors next season. Kyle Lowry not playing in Olympics is still a far better defender and should ultimately have the starting job. Two it will not change the fact that quietly Jose Calderon wants out of Toronto and that seems clear. Also the roster for the Spanish National Team you could argue has more talent than the roster of the Toronto Raptors. He has better talent around him in general. So to say Jose is better or worse based on playing with that type of talent is really not a true comparison to what he works with in Toronto.

You also have Jonas Valancuanis and Linas Kleiza playing for Lithuania. Much will be made of how Jonas performs especially in the game vs the U.S on August 4th. Good or bad it still needs to be taken in context. He is playing against a virtual All-Star team in the U.S, Also though a team that lacks size. He also will be playing with FIBA rules and this will allow him to be far more physical as a defender than will be allowed in the NBA. Ultimately you really just need to look at Kleiza as the example of why not to take this all to seriously. Linas has had some great games representing his homeland but it has never translated to much in terms of his NBA performance. In fact he has been often injured and you might point to the amount of basketball he plays internationally in competitive environments as a reason why. Mark Cuban would agree with me on this. What it will tell us about Jonas his how he responds to a pressure filled situation and if he can deliver on a big stage. Still make no mistake that he needs to learn the NBA game and regardless of how he performs in London that will still be a challenge. What London can do for him is give him a positive frame of mind to attack that challenge.

Demar DeRozan got a chance to experience Team USA up close and personal as part of the USA's Select Team. This could prove valuable for him and it was only really a short chunk of time of his overall off-season. You hope it teaches him how to work smarter and develop his skills at more rapid pace. The risk was low and the benefit was high. He didn't punch a wall and ruin his off-season like Kyrie Irving did so he should be ok.

In the end the Olympics can be a positive experience for a player or it could be a negative one. It all depends on what the player gets out of it. In addition how the player gets out of it in terms of health. Injuries can be a huge blow for NBA Teams that far outweighs any benefit they get from donating their stars to the NBA,FIBA and IOC. It is important to keep everything in prospective and judge each players Olympic experience based on where they are at in their NBA careers and what they can get out of the experience. Personally I am more than happy that Italy is not playing in London and Andrea Bargnani is not playing for them. I would much rather he was focused on improving for his NBA job here with the Toronto Raptors. So now that I have said all this feel free to ignore it and over react as I know some of the people out there will. In terms of the Olympic Tournament itself the U.S will win and I don't suspect will have much trouble doing so. I think the Dream Team experiment was worth while in how it has grown the game globally. However 20 years later the only reason we still do this is basic U.S patriotism and nothing more. U.S likes to win at stuff and really is not that concerned with how they win just if they win.

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