Thunder tonic: South American players
I’m joining a new fan club. The South American NBA Players fan club. Watching these playoffs, I’ve figured out what the Thunder needs. A couple of South Americans. Brazil, Argentina, doesn’t matter. South Americans generally play defense, particularly around the basket. They also hustle, scrap and don’t seem to care if they shoot the ball or not.
That’s exactly what the Thunder needs. Here’s the lineup of the NBA’s South Americans:
Houston’s Luis Scola is from Argentina. There’s a reason the Rockets didn’t wither without Tracy McGrady and then even beat the Lakers without Yao Ming. Guys like Scola play tough. Scola averaged 12.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this season. In the playoffs, those numbers are 13.8 and 8.3.
Cleveland’s Andersen Varejao (Brazil) is the long-haired, high-energy post man who does the dirty work for the LeBron James Gang. Varejao is an excellent defender who averages 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. Those numbers aren’t much compared to the high-profile scorers, but Varejao is worth his weight in Carlos Boozers. Varejao has the option of becoming a free agent this summer; be still my heart.
Denver’s Nene (Brazil) needs a last name (or is it a first?), but he’s another high-energy center, only with more offense. NeNe has been injury-prone, playing in just 81 games the previous three seasons. But we’ve seen this season, in Denver’s breakout year, what he can do, averaging 14.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.
San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili (Argentina), I assume you know about. Besides being a wonderful all-around player, he’s apparently a world-class teammate whether on the Spurs or on the Argentine national team.
Phoenix’s Leandro Barbosa (Brazil). Basically the last of the Suns’ gazelle-like wing men. Raja Bell and Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw are gone. But Barbosa remains. He’s not the same kind of player as Scola and Varejao; Barbosa likes to shoot, and I don’t know how much defense he plays, but he averaged 14.2 points for the Suns and remains a memory of better days in Phoenix.
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