HAPPY BIRTHDAY ‘MERICA!!
I hope y’all eat too many hot dogs and drink too many beers!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) July 4, 2021
• When Team USA training camp starts next week, we will have our eyes locked on Zach LaVine. The Chicago Bulls All-Star will get his first opportunity to represent his country on the world’s biggest stage, and he will do it alongside some of the top players in the NBA. However, when the race for gold tips off on July 24th, LaVine may not be the only familiar face Bulls fans see. Tomas Satoransky is currently playing in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with his home country of the Czech Republic. On Saturday night, he single-handedly sent his team into the Finals with a clutch elbow jumper with only 1.8 seconds left on the clock in overtime. ICYMI: We shared the clip below.
Tomas Satoransky’s Game-Winner Sent the Czech Republic to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament Finalshttps://t.co/5ahucem5KB
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) July 4, 2021
• I’m not sure what it is about playing on the national stage for Sato, but this is not the first time he has looked like one of the best players on the floor. A couple of years back he competed in the FIBA World Cup where he led the Czech Republic to the Quarterfinals. It was the countries first-ever appearance in the tournament as an independent nation. The Czech Republic ultimately lost to the Australian national team (who placed 4th-overall) and found themselves finishing as the 6th-best team. Satoransky finished the tournament averaging an impressive 15.5 points, 8.5 assists, and 5.6 rebounds. In last night’s big Qualifying tournament win, Satoransky finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
• So, this begs the question, where has this version of Satoransky been the last couple of years? I know the level of difficulty and competition is that much higher in the NBA, but Team Canada is practically built like an NBA starting five. In the last night’s contest, Cory Joseph, R.J. Barrett, Andrew Wiggins, Trey Lyles, and Dwight Powell drew the start. Other NBA faces like Lu Dort, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Mychal Mulder came off the bench. Oh, and former Coach of the Year Nick Nurse served as head coach. Canada was the heavy favorite to win the tournament and earn their first Olympic bid since 2000. Then, in rather cold-blooded fashion over top-notch-defender Lu Dort, Tomas Satoransky said otherwise.
• We have seen Satoransky post similarly impressive all-around performances (his impressive 19-point, 11-assist showing in the Bulls win over the Nets this season stands out), but he has always struggled to score the basketball consistently in his NBA career. In fact, he has never averaged double-digit points per game, which feels that much more surprising every time I see him compete with the Czech Republic. I understand the opportunities to score may not be as plentiful with the Bulls, but he has great size, a high basketball IQ, a decent mid-range game, and some really sneaky hops. If he played with the more aggressive offensive mindset we see internationally, I feel like he could be that much more valuable in the NBA.
• Speaking of which, we still have yet to learn how valuable the Bulls view him. Satoransky has a partially guaranteed deal this offseason, and the Bulls must decide what they want to do with that by the beginning of next month. If the team lets him walk, they will owe him just $5 million. If the team fully guarantees his deal, Satoransky will make $10 million in 2021-22. Considering the hunger to change this roster that Arturas Karnisovas demonstrated at the trade deadline, my main belief has been that Satoransky will be gone (either the team will look to open up the cap space and let him in the open waters or try to trade him). However, the more I think about it, I wonder if he could be the safe one while Thaddeus Young is the player we see playing elsewhere next season. I’d still bet on the reverse, but Satoransky does provide decent depth to the point guard position, which continues to be the team’s biggest need.
• THE NBA FINALS IS SET!
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 4, 2021
• As strange as these playoffs have been, I think we ended up with a great Finals matchup. Both organizations and their fan bases have been starving for a championship for decades. They are also two smaller market franchises that have built their way to the top and deserve to be recognized under this spotlight.
• I’m pretty sure my prediction will flip back and forth over the next couple of days, but my initial reaction is that the Suns will walkway with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Bucks will have the best player on the floor if Giannis Antetokounmpo returns fully healthy, but the Suns have the significantly better team. Monty Williams should also be able to outcoach Mike Budenholzer and use his depth to his advantage. Now, the main issue for the Suns will be whether or not Chris Paul can avoid feeling too much pressure and there young roster can avoid getting caught up in the moment. Emotions can run high when you go from missing the playoffs to making the Finals. The Bucks, on the other hand, have been on the cusp for years. Giannis and Co. understand what that pressure feels like a bit more.
• Lucky Buck.
Congratulations Torrey Craig for winning his first championship!
No matter who wins the Finals, he will get a ring for playing for both the Suns and Bucks this season.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 4, 2021
• The New York Times came out with quite the story on behind the scenes turmoil at ESPN. Give it a read. Maria Taylor is one of the best in the business, and I hope she finds a home that truly lets her shine.
A video showing the ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols making disparaging comments about the selection of Maria Taylor for a key job has caused substantial damage at the network the past year. @kevinmdraper on the video and its fallout: https://t.co/jo5XQAZiAF
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) July 4, 2021
• Happy retirement, Marv!
After calling 55 years of NBA basketball, broadcasting legend Marv Albert signs off for the final time. pic.twitter.com/HgEKYAjMFT
— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2021