Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com reports:
Ariza’s ability to contribute in multiple ways, on both ends of the floor. New Orleans has given significant minutes to several somewhat one-dimensional players at the wing positions over the past few seasons, but Ariza is regarded as an above-average defender and is an improving offensive player (career-best 14.9 scoring average in 2009-10).
As frequent jump shooters, neither Peja Stojakovic nor James Posey – the Hornets who’ve logged the bulk of the playing time at small forward – finish well at the rim on fast breaks, but that’s an area where Ariza has excelled. Monty Williams also envisions the 6-foot-8, long-armed and athletic Ariza giving New Orleans the ability to throw a few varied looks at opposing offenses.
Williams: “He brings some things to the table that we just didn’t have. He’s a guy I can use in transition, he’s become a better shooter throughout his career and he’s a guy who’s going to allow me to put in a 3-2 zone and put him at the top of the zone, and put him in a number of spots. He’s a guy that can switch on pick-and-rolls (due to his combination of size and athletic ability), and guard some of the power forwards in this league. He can rebound.”
With several of the NBA’s top stars unavailable for this year’s edition of Team USA, another group of guys have been handed the reigns. And as the team that scores the most points is the one who wins, super-scorer Kevin Durant plays a huge role on the squad.
Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports:
Durant, 21, became the youngest N.B.A. scoring champion last season, and the world championship offers him a platform to move into the elite constellation of N.B.A. stars. His supple jump shot and freakish athleticism will be on display Sunday at Madison Square Garden, where the United States plays France before heading to Europe.
And Durant, a player hallmarked by loyalty and humility, will get a forum on the world stage at a time when James’s off-season free-agency spectacle prompted eye rolls.
So with no players from the 2008 Olympic Redeem Team representing the United States this summer, the coalescence of Durant’s talent and image could not be a better one.
“He’s the whole package,” said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball’s managing director. “This is his opportunity to come forth on an international stage.”
It’ll be interesting to see how Durant gets his points. What moves he makes to generate offense and how they will differ in international spacing vs NBA play.