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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Cooper Flagg’s dominant USA Basketball follow is placing NBA hype in overdrive

Cooper Flagg already appears like a lock to be the No. 1 total decide within the 2025 NBA Draft. The 17-year-old from Maine has enrolled at Duke after stamping himself as the highest highschool participant within the nation no matter class, and he’s poised to change into faculty basketball’s greatest one-and-done star since Zion Williamson. Flagg’s arrival to the NBA was already going to be a celebrated affair, however the hype is reaching new ranges after his standout displaying with USA Basketball.

Flagg remains to be solely 17 years outdated after reclassifying to basically skip his senior 12 months of highschool, however that didn’t cease USA Basketball from inviting him to follow in opposition to the senior males’s nationwide crew forward of the 2024 Paris Olympics. With LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, and extra on the ground as opponents, Flagg didn’t simply maintain his personal in opposition to the highest gamers on this planet — he thrived.

Flagg reportedly took over Monday afternoon follow with a powerful show of shot-making, hustle performs, and defensive versatility. The nationwide crew solely beat to the choose crew by one level, 74-73, and it was the youngest participant in attendance main the way in which.

Watch this sequence from Flagg, the place he hits a troublesome three over a contest from Anthony Davis, sprints the ground to assist cease Davis on a transition alternative, then sprints again to crash the glass and get a putback.

Right here’s one other three-pointer from Flagg over the outstretch arm of Davis from the nook. Flagg’s capturing, not usually considered one of many strongest components of his recreation, is wanting superior in opposition to the longest and most athletic defenders on the planet.

Flagg is simply so large at 6’10 that he can overwhelm smaller opponents inside. Watch him dart into the lane on a lower, get a mismatch with Jrue Vacation, and hit a turnaround in his face.

What number of gamers within the NBA can actually name Vacation a “mismatch” even with a measurement benefit? Flagg has the form of speedy polish and long-term upside to make it nearly appear cheap.

Flagg has so many issues going for him as a prospect. He has legit NBA measurement (listed at 6’9, 205 lbs by Duke), spectacular run and bounce athleticism, a excessive motor, and a robust really feel for the sport. He’s a stable shooter, an excellent passer, and is aware of transfer off the ball. Defensively, he’s mild on his toes guarding the perimeter, and has nice instincts as a assist defender. There can be rising pains for anybody as younger as Flagg as they go up a degree — he went flip 18 years outdated till Dec. — however it’s wanting increasingly like he’ll reside as much as the hype.

The reporters in attendance who had been getting their first actual have a look at him got here away undeniably impressed.

Cooper Flagg is the actual deal, and the league is already getting ready for his arrival as mediocre groups just like the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets have began to bottom-out. Whereas the race on the high of the league can be thrilling this season with so many contenders in each conferences, the bottom-feeders getting ready for a recreation of Seize the Flagg all season lengthy can be fascinating in its personal proper.

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