USA vs. Lithuania: Full Report Card Grades for Every Team USA Player
The 2012 London Olympics have seen the Americans start slow and quickly begin to dominate. The London Games have also seen Team USA blow Nigeria out by 83 points, setting a handful of records along the way.
As of August 4, we've also seen the 2012 Dream Team barely avoid an upset.
Lithuania has always given the Americans fits in basketball and that day was no different. Linas Kleiza led the attack with 25 points, and Mike Krzyzewski's bunch looked as if they might face defeat.
Fortunately, a familiar face stepped up in the first half, and another closed out in the second.
As for how each of those others players did, they join 'Melo and LeBron in the following slides as we grade Team USA.
Proved to be the best scorer on the team when on his game. Finally began to use his strength to overwhelm opponents.
Magnificent working around his screens and lights out from anywhere on the floor with his jump shot. Played in the paint, active on the glass. Worked the low post to perfection.
Senseless and costly fouls when in the bonus.
Overall Grade: A+
It could be argued that Carmelo Anthony was the only player whose production was consistent throughout the entirety of the game. His shooting picked up where it left off in previous games, as he paced the Americans to a slight edge in the first half.
Once the second half rolled around, Lithuania put the pedal to the metal and gave the Americans a run for their money. Once again, it was Anthony who worked his way into the post and came up with some big buckets to respond.
He also grabbed key rebounds and played physical defense against a team that had gotten by on their quickness. 'Melo was masterful once again.
Drew fouls in transition and the half court. Worked the post-up well. Excellent on defense against much bigger opponents.
Found himself in early foul trouble. Wild driving led to turnovers and weak shots. Very poor shooting game.
Overall Grade: C-
There isn't much to say about Kobe Bryant's game except for the fact that he had his worst shooting performance in recent memory. Going 1-of-7 from the floor will do nothing but damage your team's chances of winning. Just don't assume that Kobe was the only superstar to shoot the ball pitifully.
There was some good for Bryant, as he defended not only his position, but the power forward position as well. He held his opponents in check for the majority of the game and selflessly hit the bench when his teammates were beginning to hit their form.
Active on the offensive glass.
Struggled to defend quicker opponents. Benched quickly once team realized they must play small.
Overall Grade: C
There's no other option here than to give Tyson Chandler an average grade. He didn't see enough playing time to judge otherwise, as the Americans went to a smaller lineup relatively quickly.
With that being said, a major reason for that was Chandler's inability to handle the quicker Lithuanian opponents.
Overall Grade: N/A
Anthony Davis did not see any action in this contest.
Found great rhythm from three-point range. Effectively forced turnovers with length and quickness.
Poor rotations on defense. Struggled to defend on matchups with Linas Kleiza and had trouble dealing with the Lithuania defense. Caught over-dribbling. Settled for contested jump shots rather than working off screens.
Overall Grade: C+
For those dying to see Kevin Durant overtake LeBron James as the best player in the world, this latest Olympic performance did nothing to help.
Durant was consistently beaten off of the dribble by Kleiza and never found his own shooting rhythm. Although the three fell for him, he made just one two-point field goal on five attempts.
In order to help the rest of the tournament, KD must return to form on offense and play more intelligently on defense. Otherwise, an upset could again be a legitimate possibility.
Always on the move for the transition basket. Active hands on defense.
Overall Grade: C+
When you only play four minutes in a game, it's hard to evaluate your contributions. James Harden will receive praise for the few possessions he had and the fact that he forced a turnover and finished in transition.
Other than that, limited playing time curves his grade downward.
Relentless defense which led to turnovers and forced passes or shots.
Three fouls in the first quarter.
Overall Grade: D+
Andre Iguodala smothered his opponents for three consecutive minutes. He contested every pass, stepped up on every dribble and pushed every opponent backward. Unfortunately, those were the only three minutes Iguodala played.
Worst of all, Iguodala committed three fouls in those three minutes. A poor grade is the only logical move here.
Key shots and dunks while trailing in the fourth quarter. Clamped down on Linas Kleiza in second half. Attacked the basket with a purpose when it really counted.
Virtually non-existent in the first half. Fell for too many pump fakes and far too passive. Turnover issues from poor decision-making.
Overall Grade: A+
LeBron James was a non-factor in the first half. He passed the ball every time he touched it, fell for a handful of pump and head fakes and allowed his man to score. As we entered the fourth quarter, it appeared as if a no-show from LBJ would lead to the downfall of Team USA.
Just don't forget that the team has to play a fourth quarter.
Contrary to what we've come to expect in the NBA, LeBron was phenomenal in the final period of play. He took the ball to the basket with almost every touch, hitting key shots as the Americans retook the lead and pulled away in the final minutes.
While it would have been nice to see LeBron do this throughout the entirety of the contest, the fact that he willed Team USA to victory deserves a perfect grade in my book.
Worked the offensive low-post to perfection. Hustled for loose balls. Not afraid to dive on the ground and do the dirty work. Imposed his will on the low block.
Caught ball-watching on defense. Was out-muscled and resorted to uncalled shoves in the back. Switched to perimeter defense too often, getting burnt every time. Very poor from the free-throw line.
Overall Grade: B-
The best word to describe Kevin Love's day is "solid." He didn't do anything particularly well, he didn't make any serious mistakes, and when push came to shove, he appeared to come out on top.
The key words here, of course, are "push" and "shove."
Kevin Love has always been a great rebounder who has the ability to light up the scoreboard. This game, however, brought a sense of physicality and grit out of him, as he consistently got away with fouls against the Lithuanians.
This physicality set a tone for the interior and genuinely helped the Americans along the way. His 3-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line, however, did not. The one mark on his solid day drops his grade a slight bit.
Attacked the basket and finished around the rim. Aggressive with the pace. Controlled the flow of Team USA offense. Worked the drive-and-dish to perfection. Worked the referees well, as he drew fouls on normal contact situations. Active hands on defense.
Must cut down on the turnovers. Didn't shoot the ball well, yet consistently went back to the three.
Overall Grade: A+
Chris Paul had his best game to date these Olympics. He had a great stat line of seven points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in a little over 28 minutes of play. Although Paul also shot 3-of-9 from the floor and turned the ball over three times, there is nothing that can mar his brilliance.
Chris Paul is one of the few reasons the Americans were even in this slugfest. Paul carved up the Lithuanian defense with his dribble and constantly found players for open shots. While those shots may not have fallen like they did against Nigeria, CP3 consistently kept a rhythm on offense.
His four steals, meanwhile, show how dominant he was on the other end.
Found success when attacking off of the dribble. Active and dominant on defense. Helped create turnovers. Great energy attacking the basket and pressing the ball-handler.
Wild play with an unnecessary rush of the tempo. Poor looks that could be avoided. Fouled too often.
Overall Grade: B
Russell Westbrook did everything you could ask of a role player on a great team. He smothered the ball-handler, played the passing lanes and hit a solid enough percentage of his shots.
A solid B is certainly in store.
Westbrook could certainly improve his shot selection, but a majority of his poor attempts came in the first half. He ended up attacking the basket well in the second and keeping the Lithuanians on their toes due to his energy and athleticism.
That unmatched hop in his step plays a greater role than the average fan realizes.
Key layup to beat third-quarter buzzer. Smothering full-court defense on every play, pressuring inbound and preventing rhythm. Rotated well on D. Played well off the ball.
In first half, relied too heavily on the Iso and missed key free throws. Shot too often for poor connect rate.
Overall Grade: B+
Deron Williams didn't shoot the ball well and he certainly could have cut down on the fouls. If you think that this team would have won without him, however, you've got another thing coming.
D-Will began the game with a handful of ill-advised decisions. He consistently went into isolation and looked to attack the basket on his own rather than look for a teammate. He also missed two huge free throws in the second half that opened the door for a Lithuania run.
But boy did he eventually turn it around in the second half.
D-Will sparked the Americans' huge fourth quarter by hitting a driving layup as the clock expired to end the third. He then reverted to his all-out defense from end to end of the court, frustrating Sarunas Jasikevicius and Martynas Pocius.
He also made a beautiful feed to LeBron James on the streaking slam that completely changed the game. D-Will was huge when it counted and he deserves high praise.