FIBA Observations: On Dirk, Barea & Rudy
Starting with Dirk, it's always interesting to see him playing with Germany. He produces the same as he always does with the Mavericks and he's just as deadly on offense. There's nothing lost in translation with his jump shot as it falls in the basket just as easily as it does in the States. ... it's all so comfortingly familiar.
The difference comes in his actions and leadership role.
You always hear from DB.com and elsewhere how with the Mavs Dirk leads by example, Jason Kidd leads with his play, and Tyson Chandler is the vocal leader. It's a collective effort in guidance in the Dallas locker room.
Not so with the German Nationalmannschaft (We're internationally cultured here at DB.com).
It's surely come with time as he's succeeded in the NBA and gained confidence in himself, but Dirk is the clear leader of this group. Obviously, he is to an extent by default as he is with the Mavs, but it's clear that he embraces and relishes this role with the young German roster. In every play on both ends of the court against Israel you could see Dirk motioning, yelling, and directing his team.
There are definitely no Kidds or Chandlers on Team Germany, but their leadership roles are capably filled by Dirk. Here's an article with the German coach gushing over his star and one where Dirk's own teammates discuss how he is their idol.
After a slow start in game one at Eurobasket 2011, Germany eased to a 91-64 win over Israel. Dirk missed his first shot (God forbid), but went on to shoot 10 for 13 the rest of the game for 25 points in 27 minutes. His play was smooth as usual. Nowitzki looked for his usual pet spots at the elbows and went to work from there.
Here's a video taste:
Dirk didn't have to work terribly hard to get his points, but it was interesting to see how much difficulty the German guards had with their entry passes to him. Sometimes the players on Germany couldn't find Dirk while he was sitting wide open on his spots for more than a few seconds. We say Dirk is certainly capable of carrying Germany to a top-2 finish (guaranteed spot in London 2012) in this tournament, but that will become an infinitely more difficult task if Germany doesn't find Dirk for easy buckets in transition. Against teams stronger than Israel, that will be much more difficult of a task. Keep in mind, this is one of Jason Kidd's flawless skills that we take for granted and will miss when he's gone.
You know those Maverick regular-season games in January against a weak opponent where Dirk doesn't seem terribly interested in attacking rebounds like he would if it were Game 6 of the NBA Finals? Yeah, that was pretty much the approach he took with this game.
Dirk only pulled in three rebounds despite playing a terribly undersized Israeli team (Dirk routinely found himself guarded by a man 6-feet tall. It didn't end well for the Israeli). Chris Kaman, Dirk's "countryman", played well in the second half and patrolled the boards for the majority of the game anyway. As we know and Germany certainly does as well, the rebounds from Dirk are there when needed. They'll be needed soon.
The body language of Dirk continues to be that of a man without a care in the world. He looked like he had 1000 lbs. lifted off his shoulders when the Mavs won the championship and he still does. You can see it in the cheeky passes he attempts while running the break, the way he casually runs through his progressions on offense, and the general way he conducts himself.
For those of you cultured folk like myself, Dirk ist ein wahrer Sieger und er spielt mit viel Selbstvertrauen.
With Germany owning a 25-point lead, Dirk subbed out near the end of the 3rd quarter and had the intention of sitting for the full final frame so he could rest. While Dirk sat, that lead was quickly cut to 14 and he was forced to come back in at the 6:33 mark of the fourth quarter. Dirk then promptly hit two shots, grabbed a rebound, secured the win for Germany, and subbed back out at the 3:46 mark. And yes for those of you keeping score at home, you can replace every "Germany" in that sentence with "Dallas" and all of a sudden that's a scenario we've seen approximately 2,958 times with the Mavs.
Man, I miss Dirk.
Moving on to other Mavericks in Eurobasket 2011, Rudy Fernandez made an appearance with Spain in their tournament debut. There's not much to report though since he hardly put up any stats at all. Rudy started for the Spaniards and finished with 4 points on 2 of 3 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 steal and no turnovers in 12 minutes. Word is that he had some kind of sinus problem or allergic reaction that kept him from being fully effective, but there's no way to view his performance as anything but bland.
Well, there is one way. He could have Ricky Rubio's stats: 0 points on 0 of 5 shooting, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers in 16 minutes. Yikes.
Across the pond in the FIBA America's Championship, JJ Barea, the Dirk Nowitzki of Puerto Rico, has his homeland out to a 2-0 record and at the top of their group. Tuesday, JJ only had to put in 16 minutes as PR smashed Panama 99-66. The main points to come away this game from are 1) JJ had 8 points and 2) he better lay low the next time he sees Maverick legend and Panamanian native Rolando Blackman.
Today, JJ's game was even more of a breeze as PR absolutely destroyed Paraguay 101-55. Barea only put in 20 minutes during the game and still managed to flirt with a triple double. He shot 50 percent from the field, had 14 points, 6 assists and… 8 rebounds! That's right, we now live in a world where JJ Barea pulled down 8 rebounds and Dirk grabbed 3 in the same day.
Extra Notes: Petteri Koponen, who is now property of the Mavs as he was included in the Rudy Fernandez trade, started for the Finland national team in a near upset of Croatia. The Finnish point guard had 14/2/6 in 34 minutes. Petteri remains a project for Dallas, but it's good to know the guy is getting some burn and producing for his country.
And with that, I think we're done for the night. Check back for more international Maverick updates!