No real surprises from Lithuania today. The game we paid the most attention to was of course Germany-Israel. Herr Kristoffer Kaman (formerly Chris Kaman of Grand Rapids Michigan and the Los Angeles Clippers) looked impressive - very impressive really - in scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He made 8 of 12 shots, and one of those was an authoritative two-handed jam of the sort we rarely see from our beloved German. Germany ran away from Israel beginning with about 2 minutes left in the first half and posted a 91-64 victory in the end. That represented the highest point total and the largest margin of victory of the first day of the tournament, for whatever that's worth.
As I said, there weren't any surprises in the victors today. Not that there was a clear cut favorite every game, but it looks to me like the favored teams went 12-0. If you want to read between the lines, it was a bit surprising that Spain let a big lead dwindle to two points in the final minute before finally beating Poland (this is Poland without Marcin Gortat) and Croatia had a lot of trouble with Finland, which was one of the last qualifiers for the tournament - but that's about it. Besides, you really can't put too much stock in the first round games - two years ago in Poland Spain struggled early, but was dominant in the knockout stage when it actually counts.
The NBA imprint is clear from the first day. Five of the top eight scorers on the day currently play in the NBA (as much as anyone currently plays in the NBA, that is), a sixth (Carlos Navarro) used to, and a seventh (Bojan Bogdanovic) was just drafted. Only Janis Blums of Latvia, today's leading overall scorer, cracked the top of the table without any NBA connection, and it looks like he just got red hot against France (he made 6 of 9 threes on the way to 32 points, but Tony Parker put up 31 for les Bleus). The rest of the names look very familiar - Gasol (Pau that is), Nowitzki, Kirilenko, Deng, Bargnani... you get the idea.
Bogdanovic is a player I'm looking forward to watching. I was intrigued by him in this draft, but he wound up being taken 31, six spots before the Clippers first pick in the second round.
Given the makeup of the team in Miami (three huge contracts in search of production on the cheap from the rest of the roster) Bogdanovic may get a chance to show something with the Heat if and when a season happens. He lit up Finland for 27 points and 7 rebounds today. [Note by Steve Perrin, 08/31/11 5:15 PM PDT ] My bad - Bogdanovic was drafted by the Heat, but traded to the Nets on draft day. I kind of knew that, but must have typed his name wrong when I searched for him in draft day transactions when I first posted this. At any rate, I convinced myself at that time he was still Heat property, but he ain't. He's a Net, and with Travis Outlaw ahead of him on the depth chart at the three, he's got a chance if he's as good as I think he is.
Tomorrow's schedule finds Germany facing Italy, with the tip off again being at 11 AM Pacific. I'll try to have a game thread up for it, for anyone who can watch. Italy's front line of Bargnani and Gallinari has a draft lottery pedigree, but somehow I think Nowitzki and Kaman will eat them up about the same way the took care of Israel's bigs. We'll see. Of the other matchups, none of them really jump out at me. The tournament is structured to pit the better teams in each group against each other in the final games of group play, so we'll have to wait a few days before we see a game like Spain-Turkey or Spain-Lithuania.