• Team USA made things a little too close for comfort once again. The French, playing without Tony Parker, sliced and diced some bad defense and kept the game close for far longer than they should’ve against the tournament favorites. There were some rotation tweaks today that kickstarted Klay Thompson but the defensive cracks exposed by other teams are more evident than ever. The rest of Group A sorted itself out, so hop to it.

    Today’s Results

    Men’s

    USA 100 vs. France 97
    Australia 81 vs. Venezuela 56
    Serbia 94 vs. China 60

    Women’s

    USA 102 vs. China 65
    Serbia 95 vs. Senegal 88
    Spain 73 vs. Canada 60

    USA 100 vs. France 97

    The US squeaked out another win but looked much better against France than they did against Australia and Serbia. There were still plenty of concerning things to investigate so the work here is hardly done. On one hand the ball moved and there was a more definitive flow to the offense. On the other, the US won by just three against an opponent that’s looked listless in group play that rested its starting point guard. Regardless, the US are a perfect 5-0 in the group stage and will be the top seed in the medal round.

    Klay Thompson finally got cooking today and even hit some of his specialty quickfire triples. He finished with 30 points and shot 7-13 from behind the arc in a game that was a sight for sore eyes. Reinserting him into the starting lineup appears to have done the trick, though increased ball movement was probably the most important factor today. Klay was dipping and weaving around the court without the ball and earned a good amount of touches in the first quarter even if he didn’t heat up until later.

    On the topic of ball movement, the US was credited for 19 assists on 19 first half field goals (though some were fairly generous) and ended with 32 on 35; Kyrie Irving led the way with 12 dimes. His most memorable came on a beautiful alley-oop to Kevin Durant when Irving slipped and fell but still managed to fling the ball over a French defender from behind the arc. DeMar DeRozan had a nice first half, earning 7 free throw attempts before going through a spell of stupid turnovers in the second half and playing his way off the court. Kevin Durant was a perfect 6-6 from the floor for 17 points but hardly looked good today; his issues on the other end of the floor popped up in a big way.

    There were still lots of defensive struggles to diagnose and the starting lineup just isn’t working on that end of the floor. DeMarcus Cousins is getting hurt by a tough whistle but teams are attacking him and Kyrie Irving with relative ease; no matter what coverage the US throws out to support them it’s a constant weak spot. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were both victimized by a handful of backdoor cuts where they just stopped paying attention and allowed an easy look at the rim. The lack of defensive awareness in the current starting five is remarkable; Klay Thompson looks like the lone player who can anticipate what’s coming next and is assuredly the only one who won’t just dip under a perimeter screen.

    The bench unit, however, comes in with much more tenacity and smarts on the defensive end. DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, DeRozan, Jimmy Butler and Paul George looked like a much more cohesive unit and really pulled away against France’s bench. One game Plus/Minus is a silly tool to use for evaluation, but this isn’t exactly a coincidence: Jordan +12, Butler +7, Lowry +6. Amongst the starters? Durant +2, Klay +1, Kyrie -3, Melo -3, Cousins -5.

    If they’re serious about shoring up the defense, Jimmy Butler needs to play more than 6:26. Kyle Lowry needs to play more than 12:38. Draymond Green needs to play more than 6:12. This is a starting group that couldn’t contain Nando De Colo and Thomas Heurtel. If France could shoot the three it’d be a very different story. If the US doesn’t change anything and runs into a hot shooting team? Well, it doesn’t seem like a good proposition.

    France rested Tony Parker for the medal round today but almost pulled it off without him. They got excellent games from their guards; De Colo (#12) scored 18 points on 8-13 shooting in just 19 minutes while Heurtel (#4) scored 18 of his own on 8-14, hitting a number of big jumpers and crafty floaters to lead a late French surge. The Teenage Mutant Ninja was great today, picking up 8 boards and 9 assists in his extra run. France put some sneaky depth on display after their usual bench units struggled in the first few games. Nic Batum (14 points) took on more of the scoring burden tonight while Antoine ‘Ronnie James’ Diot (#6) scored 8 points, though three came on a meaningless buzzer beater to end the game.

    France couldn’t follow the blueprint laid by others before them who dragged Cousins and Jordan into high pick and roll situations. Rudy Gobert simply isn’t effective at drawing opposing bigs out of the paint and the offense didn’t get too much rhythm going until Joffrey Lauvergne (12 points on 6-10) stepped in a started to hit some midrange shots. France will be in the medal round alongside the US, though neither knows who they’ll be playing just yet.

    Top Performers

    USA France
    Points Thompson 30
    Durant 17
    Irving / Anthony 10
    De Colo / Heurtel 18
    Batum 14
    Lauvergne 12
    Rebounds Durant 6
    Cousins 5
    Irving / Anthony 4
    Heurtel 8
    Gobert / Lauvergne 5
    De Colo 4
    Assists Irving 12
    Anthony 5
    Durant 4
    Heurtel 9
    Diaw 7
    De Colo 5

    Stray Thoughts:

    • Draymond needs to play; he’s a cure for so many issues- screening, passing, defense
    • Lauvergne could be a tough cover for DAJ; can hit from mid-range and Jordan won’t leave the paint
    • Lowry/DDR/PG/Butler/DAJ unit does such an improved job of passing the ball
    • US got bailed out on a few stupid fouls on threes
    • Diaw loves dishing to Gobert; 4/5 PnR would be lethal if Gobert had a better offensive game
    • Lowry visibly frustrated when officials won’t give him the ball to inbound quickly; love his sense of urgency
    • Boogie finished strong; just too big and strong for France to handle down low
    • KD looked bad again, ball seemed to stop in his hands, a stupid turnover with 2 minutes left that led to a Heurtel 3
    • Melo with 2 big triples in the 4th on an otherwise quiet scoring day

Fantasy News

  • Javonte Green
    F, Boston Celtics

    Javonte Green will join the Celtics on a partially guaranteed contract.

    After a strong Summer League performance where he averaged 10.8ppg on 50% shooting, Green will get an opportunity to fight for a roster spot for the Celtics. He most recently played overseas in Germany.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Amida Brimah
    C, Indiana Pacers

    The Pacers have signed Amida Brimah to a one-year contract.

    The seven foot big man, Bridah, has had a couple short stints with the Spurs but has yet to play in a game. Expect him to compete for a roster spot come training camp but there are no guarantees that he will make the final roster.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Daniel Theis
    PF, Boston Celtics

    The Celtics have officially re-signed Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker.

    The team rescinded their qualifying offer to Theis in a procedural move to maximize cap space, but he's back in Boston on a two-year, $10 million deal. He'll be battling for backup center minutes and his shooting ability (38.8 percent from deep last season on low volume) could set him apart from the rest of Boston's frontcourt options. As a player who can knock down threes and pick up some steals and blocks, there's deep-league potential for Theis should he end up pushing for something like 20 mpg. Wanamaker decided to pass on larger offers from European teams to return to the Celtics, where he may have a better shot at minutes with Terry Rozier out of the picture. Even so, he's not a fantasy target.

    Source: Boston Celtics

  • Thanasis Antetokounmpo
    SF, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks have made their signing of Thanasis Antetokounmpo official.

    Antetokounmpo is believed to be on a two-year deal that is fully guaranteed for the veteran's minimum. Antetokounmpo has just two NBA appearances to his name, both coming back in 2016 with the Knicks. It's unlikely that he'll play much, if at all, though at least he'll get to hang with his MVP little brother.

    Source: Milwaukee Bucks

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors have announced the signing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

    Hollis-Jefferson had a tough season in Brooklyn, suffering an offseason adductor strain and then falling out of the rotation when he was ready to play. The Raptors will take a one-year flier on a player that can capably defend multiple positions while bringing great energy, and he'll fit in with the team's defensive identity. RHJ is only a year removed from being a top-100 fantasy player but it's unlikely that he holds standard-league value in a reserve role for Toronto. Deep-league managers can consider Hollis-Jefferson a late-round flier.

    Source: Toronto Raptors

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have officially re-signed Kelly Oubre.

    Oubre is headed back to Phoenix on a two-year, $30 million deal and lost out on a bigger payday as teams alternately gobbled up cap space or played a long waiting game in free agency, leaving one of the top RFAs on the board to settle for a deal that clocks in below expectations. Oubre missed the end of the season because of thumb surgery but blossomed in Phoenix, averaging 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.7 3s on .453 shooting. That was good for top-50 value, and while that might be too lofty to expect a repeat without some breaks (the efficiency is a definite question mark), it's clear that Oubre is finally on a team that will commit to his future and there will be enough playing time to make him a late-middle round option in fantasy drafts.

    Source: Phoenix Suns

  • David Nwaba
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets have announced the signing of David Nwaba.

    Nwaba will head to Brooklyn on a two-year deal after bouncing around over his first three NBA seasons. It's a nice pickup for the Nets, who will get a hard-nosed forward that's capable of defending and rebounding with tenacity. Nwaba's poor shooting might not do him favors in Brooklyn's system, but he's the type of hustle player that coaches tend to like. Expect him to play a part in Kenny Atkinson's deep rotation, though fantasy value is probably out of the question when everyone is healthy.

    Source: Brooklyn Nets

  • JR Smith
    SG, Cleveland Cavaliers

    J.R. Smith will meet with the Bucks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    This is the first team other than the Lakers, who have already been deemed an unlikely landing spot, to be connected to Smith. Milwaukee is looking for another wing shooter and Smith would fit the bill in a perfect world, though it's unlikely that he would play a major role for any team after sitting out since November.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Kyle Lowry
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry has undergone a procedure to repair the tendon in his left thumb, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Lowry battled with either a left thumb sprain or dislocation (depending on who you believe) in the playoffs and often spoke of how he struggled to handle the ball. It didn't seem to matter too much as Lowry shot 42 percent from deep over the Eastern Conference Finals and Finals, but this procedure is far from surprising. The point guard is still hoping to be ready for Team USA training camp and the FIBA World Cup, so we are not looking at a lengthy recovery here.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Naz Reid
    C, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Naz Reid has signed a multi-year deal with the Wolves.

    Reid was originally expected to sign a two-way deal, and this might be the fastest conversion to a standard contract ever. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic is reporting that it is a four-year deal worth a max of $6.1 million, with a full guarantee on the first season. Reid averaged 12.5 points, 4.7 boards and 2.0 assists in just 18.3 mpg at Summer League and looked like one of the better big men at the Vegas circuit. The Wolves are obviously set at center in the long term, but Reid could definitely emerge as the backup with a little more seasoning.

    Source: Minnesota Timberwolves