Sunday, September 2, 2007

Redd Gets Gold

The USA concluded their impressive Tournament of the Americas performance with a 118-81 thumping of Argentina, clinching gold ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. While the US was never troubled in Vegas, we should also remember that top competitors like Argentina and Brazil were missing key players while European powers like Spain, Lithuania, Serbia and Greece will also be in Beijing. And while the US will likely add Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to next summer's team, their impact on the already star-studded lineup will likely have less effect than the additions of players like Manu Ginobili to Argentina or Anderson Varejao to Brazil. Still, it's difficult to find much fault with the USA's performance in Vegas.

As for Michael Redd, he broke out of his mini-slump against Puerto Rico on Saturday, helping the US beat their semifinal Puerto Rico 135-91 with 23 points on 8/10 fg including a sizzling 7/8 from three (box score). He wasn't a factor in the gold medal game, scoring 5 points on 2/4 fg and 1/3 from deep (box score).

It was undoubtedly a great experience for Redd, who surprised some by finishing as the USA's fourth leading scorer with 14.4 ppg on 53% shooting from the field and 45% from deep (USA stats). Even with Wade and Bosh likely to be added to the roster next summer, Redd's value as a three point specialist should make him a safe bet for the Beijing roster, especially given that he outperformed Mike Miller, the team's other designated shooter. Looking 10-15 pounds slimmer, Redd looked quicker than last season, when he played the majority of his minutes at small forward. But let's give Redd some credit--even after getting his max contract, he's continued to improve his game. Sure, his rebounding has fallen off, and there's lots of room for him to become a better passer, but his scoring has increased every season in the league, as he's gone from an outside gunner to a legit all-around scorer. This year he won't need to score more to improve, as keeping the Bucks' other offensive weapons involved should be a more important goal. Charles Gardner writes that Mike Krzyzewski was even impressed with his defense, something all Bucks fans would love to hear coming from the other Coach K this season.

But Redd said he is anxious to return to the Bucks for training camp in less than a month. Some of the experience he has gained with Team USA could translate during the regular season.

"I think he really surprised a lot of people," Bucks general manager Larry Harris said of Redd's performance with the U.S. squad. "But we see him every day. I think the next step we want him to take is making the players around him better.

"In the (U.S.) games I saw, I don't know if he took any bad shots. That shows he is adjusting and understanding how to make others better. And he's really trying to apply himself defensively. It's a great experience; it's invaluable."

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