After traveling all day yesterday, I finally got a chance this morning to watch yesterday's pre-Olympic exhibition between the U.S. and Argentina yesterday in Barcelona. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were in action for the American side, but we all know well what those guys bring to the table (pasta salad and cups/napkins, respectively). As was the case for most of y'all in yesterday's game thread, my main point of focus was Argentine point guard Pablo Prigioni. Though it hasn't been officially announced, the Knicks came to an agreement with Prigioni a couple weeks ago and he'll presumably be one of their bench guards this season.
Prigioni played 33 minutes, resting only for an extended stretch in the second quarter. Here's what I saw from New York's 35 year-old rookie:
- Argentina played a lot of 2-3 zone (with Prigioni up top) and switched quite a few picks (the latter of which is probably good practice for the Knicks). Prigioni's first play of note was shoulder-checking a driving LeBron James on a switch. Bron actually veered off course, so +1 for Prigioni.
- The shot clock expiration horn in Barcelona needs to relax.
- Chris Paul and Deron Williams put pretty consistent pressure on Prigioni, occasionally picking him up as early as three-quarters court. He never really broke through the pressure, but chipped his way up the court with a lot of sidelong dribbling and switching hands, his head up the whole time.
- Perhaps as a result of the above, Prigioni dished almost exclusively from his hip. He can throw a side-arm or wrap-around bounce-entry pass with either or both hands quite far and quite accurately. He tossed 'em from up top all the way into the corners and sent shuffle passes to Luis Scola in a quick two-dribble pick-and-pop that they've clearly executed thousands of times. Again, the guy wasn't exactly knifing into the paint off picks, but he'd get enough of a step (to either side of the floor) to find Scola up top or Ginobili/Nocioni in the corner, and would continue into the paint if a give-and-go was available, then throw one-timers from under the basket out to the perimeter.
- Prigioni said something nasty and earned a quick technical foul before heading to the bench at the beginning of the second. I assume he earned Tyson Chandler's respect at that very moment.
- Argentina let Manu Ginobili play a bit of point and pushed Prigioni off-ball for parts of the second half. He'd either camp out in the corner, then set baseline back-screens to switch corners or curl up top (i.e. shooting guard thangs).
- Such defined biceps!
- The only turnover I noticed (there were two): A pass meant to be threaded through two people to Scola that hit someone's knee.
- Prigioni's two baskets, both in the second half: a pull-up three off a switch over a sagging Kevin Durant, and a step-back three when Deron Williams went under a pick early in the shot clock.
- Y'all said something in the game thread about Prigioni passing through someone's legs, but I didn't catch that. Wait, was it me? Did he pass through my legs?
- Sweet bro-hug with Melo at the final buzzer. Melo reportedly said something to Prigioni in Spanish. A guess: "Tengo un cubo lleno de ensalada. Me encanta bailar."
- Final line: 8 points on 2-4 shooting (two threes), six assists, five rebounds, a steal, and just two turnovers in 33 minutes.
So, all told, Prigioni's game against the U.S. fell right in line with his reputation. He's neither nimble nor explosive enough (and perhaps never was) to burn point guards off the dribble or prevent them from doing the same on the other end. He uses picks and head fakes brilliantly, though, and needs just a couple steps of penetration to find creative, oblique angles and feed pretty much anyone on the floor. He dishes with restraint and precision, using any available window but swallowing the pass if the window's not there. He'll take and hit a three if you leave him open, but passes up even the openest of driving lanes. I just pretty much described present-day Jason Kidd, so we'll see how those two split minutes and what lineups suit each of them best as the season goes on.
I, for one, quite like the guy and am more than ready for ¡Pablocura! to take over New York.