Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how much the bench players who were on the Team USA basketball team this summer have improved their play so far this season. For Clip fans, the #1 proof is Eric Gordon. He’s elevated his play significantly from a year ago. But, you can say the same thing about other bench players from Team USA: Westbrook, Love, Curry, Gay and Granger. All of these players are playing at a higher level than last year.
You could argue that younger players should improve in the first 3-4 years of their professional career. They have to be playing with more confidence because of their success with Team USA. But, how would you explain Danny Granger? He’s in year 6 of his career. I was watching the Pacers play the other night, and Quinn Buckner, their color analyst, mentioned how much Granger had picked up defensively playing with Team USA this summer. He’s finally made a commitment to the defensive end for the Pacers, and the rest of the team is following Granger’s lead by playing much better defense. The Pacers rank #2 in the league in FG% allowed so far this season. Last year they were in the middle of the pack at #13.
The primary factor, in my opinion, is exposing players with outstanding talent to superior coaching. There’s no doubt that Coach K is a great coach. He had two outstanding assistants, Jim Boeheim and Jay Triano, who also deserve credit for Team USA’s success and their players’ overall improvement.
Let's hope that Gordon and Blake Griffin get opportunities in the future to play for Team USA.