Five things to watch for in today’s Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., which will be televised at 3 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
1. The U.S. will look to run and the World Select Team will try to slow it down.
With the size advantage the World Select Team has, including three players 7-foot or taller, it is better suited to a slower pace, offensively and defensively. The U.S. will hope to run by getting quick baskets off its defense and will look to push the ball at every opportunity. The World Select Team doesn’t have anyone as explosive as Jaylen Brown or Malik Newman in transition. One way the World Select will attempt to slow the U.S. is by gobbling up plenty of offensive rebounds.
“They have a lot of size and length, so our speed and quickness is going to be what our advantage is,” said Brown, a 6-7 forward from Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.). “So, hopefully, we can get out in transition and get some of those big guys tired or in foul trouble so we can have an up-tempo pace.”
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Knowing the World Select squad will likely use a variety of zones, Brown said the U.S. squad has to stay aggressive.
“We have to attack the seams and we have to use every opportunity to get to the basket,” he said. “We have to get shots up on the rim, we have to get putbacks, we have to get the bigs in foul trouble and we have to hit shots.”
2. Expect a lot of trapping from the U.S. squad.
It’s something the team worked on all week in practice, keeping the World Select team out of the middle of the court and forcing it to the sides, where the quicker U.S. defenders can potentially wreak havoc. It might be difficult as the World Select team has big guards in 6-5 Jamal Murray and 6-6 Stefon Peno and a 6-9 “point-forward” in Ben Simmons, all of whom can pass over defenders.
3. Can the U.S. squad keep Cheick Diallo in check?
Diallo, an active 6-9 forward from Mali who played for Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.), has a non-stop style that can lead to a lot of disruptions on defense, a lot of rebounds and a lot of second-chance points. Diallo stood out, even among a strong group at the McDonald’s All American Game and won the MVP. He could have a similar impact here. The key for the U.S. squad will be making sure that someone checks Cheick by keeping a body on him during rebounds.
4. Enjoy watching Rabb vs. Simmons
Ivan Rabb, a 6-9 player from Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) and the LSU-bound Simmons from Montverde (Fla.) locked horns a bit at the McDonalds All American Game. Both are 6-9 and though they have different skill sets (Simmons is better in the open court and Rabb is a more effective rebounder), they will likely be matched up a bit when they’re not playing zone.
5. Who will win the three-point battle?
The U.S. has three solid outside shooters in Jalen Brunson, Luke Kennard and Allonzo Trier and Newman is also dangerous from long range. The World Select squad can rely on the outside shooting of Murray and Italian guard Federico Mussini, both of whom have been deadly from a distance in practice. That battle within the battle could make a difference as the team that has had a better three-point percentage has won 90% of the time in this game.