NBA stars taking London by storm
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Sure Michael Phelps can swim the butterfly but how is his jump shot?
We know Usain Bolt can sprint 100 meters. But can he run the pick and roll?
Soon, the top teams from group play will advance to the knockout stage and all eyes will be on basketball at the 2012 London Olympics. Thirty-eight NBA players have come to England's capital to represent their country at this year's Summer Games and many of them have already made quite an impact. Here are a few hoops stars you might want to keep an eye on as the London Games roll on:
Carmelo Anthony, Forward, New York Knicks (United States) - Most would say Anthony underachieved with the Knicks last season (22.6 ppg on just 43 percent shooting) but that hasn't been the case in London. Against Nigeria Thursday, Anthony racked up a team-record 37 points for the Americans in just 14 minutes of action. Anthony has been Team USA's leading scorer at 20.5 ppg while shooting an unbelievable 63.6 percent from three-point range. Carmelo ended 2011-12 on a hot streak (29.8 ppg in the final month of the season) so it's reasonable to expect his Olympic success to carry over into the next regular season.
Luol Deng, Forward, Chicago Bulls (Great Britain) - Great Britain might not win a game at the 2012 Summer Olympics but don't blame Deng. He's done everything for England, leading the squad in points (18.2 ppg), rebounds (7.5 rpg) and assists (4.8 apg). He's also barely had any rest. Deng has been on the court for 149 of 160 minutes played since the start of the tournament. Of course, Deng (15.3 ppg in 54 games last season) won't be asked to do quite as much back in Chicago. But with leading scorer Derrick Rose (21.8 ppg) out until at least March with a torn ACL, it's very possible that Deng could see a rise in points per game in 2012-13.
Pau Gasol, Forward Los Angeles Lakers (Spain) - Gasol has notched at least 17 points in each of his four games in London for the 3-1 Spanish national team. His best performance of the tournament came in the Olympic opener last Sunday versus China when he exploded for 21 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting. Gasol faces a tenuous future in Los Angeles, but if the four-time All-Star can remain focused he should still be able to average double-digit points and rebounds next season.
Manu Ginobili, Guard, San Antonio Spurs (Argentina) - Ginobili was a key contributor for Argentina when it won gold at the 2004 games and so far he's been just as dominant in London. If Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is watching back in the states, he must be pleased with the fundamentally-sound, mistake- free style of basketball Ginobili has been playing. The 35-year-old is 19- of-19 from the free-throw line and hasn't committed a turnover since Argentina's loss to France on the second day of the tournament. If Ginobili can stay healthy, he should be a top-50 fantasy player in 2012-13.
Andrei Kirilenko, Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves (Russia) - The 6-foot-10 Kirilenko put on a clinic versus Great Britain (35 points) last week before leading Russia to an upset win over Spain on Saturday (eight points, eight rebounds). For the tournament, he's averaging 19.5 ppg, good for fifth-best in the Olympics. As well as he has played in London, I'm not sold on Kirilenko's fantasy potential heading into next season, expecially after a year away from the NBA (played for CSKA Moscow in 2011-12).
Linas Kleiza, Forward, Toronto Raptors (Lithuania) - Scoring 20 points against Argentina is one thing. Putting up 20 against the Americans is quite another. Kleiza has accomplished both of these feats over the last week with the latter coming in a nailbiter 99-94 loss to Team USA on Saturday. Toronto's lack of depth at small forward and Kleiza's strong play during the Olympics (18.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) suggest that 2012-13 could be a breakout year for the 27-year-old.
Patty Mills, Guard, San Antonio Spurs (Australia) - Mills' epic 39-point effort against Great Britain Saturday might be the most impressive individual performance we've seen in the tournament up to this point. Despite the scoring prowess Mills has demonstrated in London (Olympic-best 22.5 ppg), the 23-year- old hasn't been much of a distributor (just 2 apg) and his lack of size (he's only six-foot) has prevented him from being a force on the glass (4.5 rpg). As Tony Parker's backup, Mills is unlikely to become a big fantasy contributor in 2012-13.
Luis Scola, Forward, Phoenix Suns (Argentina) - Scola, who has already represented his country at the Olympics on two other occasions, may be playing in his final Olympics. If this is indeed the last time we see Scola in international play, it looks like he'll be leaving behind quite a legacy. His 57.6 percent field goal percentage is among the tournament's best and only Patty Mills has been able to match him in scoring (22.5 ppg). After five seasons with the Rockets, Scola will assume the starting power forward position in Phoenix next year and should be just as successful as he was in Houston (15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg in 2011-12).
08/05 18:33:56 ET