Last week’s Team USA minicamp was supposed to be a reunion more than anything else. Program director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski stressed before, during, and after the proceedings that little would be taken away from player performance in Las Vegas when it comes to making the 2016 Olympic squad. Rather, the training session would be used for all members of USA Basketball to reacquaint themselves with one another during a summer of national team inactivity.
America’s best, though, had other ideas.
First, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony elected to participate in practice despite initial reports they’d watch from the sidelines. LeBron James then followed suit, and Russell Westbrook helped make sure the “no-contact” practice edict was more suggestion than strict rule. Team USA, obviously, wants to work and get better more than anything else.
Thursday’s scrimmage didn’t necessarily reflect that reality. The esteemed quartet joined the likes of Chris Paul and Steph Curry by sitting out the showcase; the only true superstar who participated was Blake Griffin. It’s not like the on-court competition was at regular season levels, either. The game was played at something just above All-Star quality when it comes to intensity.
But as the video above makes clear, Team USA wasn’t simply going through the motions last week – no matter how easy players like Curry and Durant make most pinch-post drills look. If minicamp is any indication, it’s only a matter of time before the Americans win their third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.