The first ever FIBA World Cup will take place in August and September, and USA basketball has released the roster for the 2014 National Team training camp. Trying to build off the momentum from FIFA and adopting the “World Cup” title (used to be World Championships), this year’s FIBA tournament will be highly competitive as basketball continues to globalize even though the national team has compiled a 62-1 record since 2005.
By the looks of the roster the team shows a lot of promise that should earn the U.S another Gold come September. The 19-man roster for training camp is headlined by 2012 gold medalists Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, James Harden and Anthony Davis. While there are a few notable names missing such as Russell Westbrook (rest), Chris Paul (rest), LaMarcus Aldridge (unspecified reasons), Kawhi Leonard (rest), John Wall (not selected) and of course the obvious case for LeBron James, USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski did a great job bringing in some of the emerging talent in the game to represent the U.S. I decided to take a look at who should make-up the final 12-man roster that will head to Spain.
The face of USA basketball the past four years, Durant will be returning to lead the team in Spain. The most prolific scorer in the world, Durant’s game is a perfect matches for international play with his ability to score every way imaginable. The reigning MVP was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gold medal team on which he was the high-scorer, averaging 19.5 points per game. He also keyed the 2010 FIBA World Championship team to Gold.
A hot commodity during the offseason, Love’s role on the 2012 Olympic team was as garbage man, one which he willingly accepted. His hard work and sacrifice has made him one of the most sought after players in the league. Playing a far different role this time around that shoulders more offensive responsibility, his ability to stretch the floor and rebound is crucial for a team like the U.S that will have to deal with teams possessing the talented size of Spain.
The surprise pick of the 2012 team, Davis was the Christian Laettner of the previous Olympic squad: A dominant college player that somehow found his way to a team boasting some of the greatest players ever. Throughout the past two years, Davis has shown that he’s a far better player than Laettner, emerging as one of the most promising big men in the league. There are few players in the league that can impact the game on both sides of the ball like Davis. He’s already been in the gym this summer and has put on a lot of needed weight which will help definitely in the tournament.
It is simple why Harden is needed for the USA – scoring and more scoring. There just aren’t many players with an offensive arsenal like Harden’s. Even though the team will be loaded with point guards, Harden is a guy that can handle on-ball duties if needed down the stretch.
George is going to be one of the most important players on this team. While his offensive game should not be overlooked, he is going to have play the role Andre Iguodola did in 2012, serving as this team’s lock-down perimeter defender. PG has become one of the premier defenders in the league and his wingspan is going to cause a lot of headaches in Spain. If George wants to take his game to the next level and reenter the superstar conversation among the likes of LeBron and KD, this is the platform to do it.
Is there anyone having a better month than Irving? A lucrative contract extension, getting James as a teammate and now being handed the keys to USA Basketball. Reuniting with Coach K, we are going to watch Kyrie grow right before our eyes. Kyrie right now is one of the most skillful players in the league but if he shows that he is poised and ready to lead a team in highly pressured moments, he is going to earn more respect as a point guard. LeBron has already quoted that he wants to make Kyrie the best floor general in the league. What is pressure right?
The purest shooter in the world is another player that was made for international competition. The USA can always bet on Curry if some shooting is needed down the stretch or to handle point duties when needed. One of the most intelligent players in the league, Curry is coming off the best season of his career and his leadership will be extremely important to the team moving forward.
Griffin was supposed to be on the 2012 team before he was injured and unable to make the trip to Beijing. What Blake provides is a new and improved all-around game that he showcased throughout 2013-2014. He proved that he is not just a human-highlight film. While he is going to excite the crowd with some vicious dunks, Griffin is going to have to bring it on defense if Love struggles on that end.
Damian Lillard vs. Derrick Rose
Everyone is anticipating the return of Rose, who surprised fans when he decided to partake in training camp. From reports, Rose is healthy and is ready to show us what his fully rehabilitated game looks like. While Rose only played 49 games the last two seasons, Lillard developed into one the emerging stars in the league. Rose is a former MVP and if completely healthy, there is no point guard other than Westbrook with the physical capabilities he brings to the table.
This could be a nice comeback story for Rose. Lillard proved during the season and the playoffs that he is one of the most fearless competitors in basketball. It’s tough to pinpoint what direction the coaches will take with their surplus of point guards, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both players make the final 12.
Final Verdict: Both
Bradley Beal vs. Klay Thompson
This is going to be one of the best matches of training camp. Both players are elite shooters and very similar players on defense. Thompson has thrived as Curry’s running mate in Golden State, proving that he can be one of the best scorers in the league. Beal is younger and more explosive, and appears destined to be one of basketball’s premier shooting guards for years to come. But if I had to choose which way the coaching staff would lean, I’d bet on Thompson due to his size and experience advantage.
Final Verdict: Thompson
Andre Drummond vs. Demarcus Cousins
If you are seeking player that has not been afraid to voice his opinion on wanting to play for his country, look no further than Cousins. This is going to be one of the most intriguing matchups in training camp as both players know they’re direct competition – each other. The U.S can only afford to bring one of Drummond and Cousins aboard outside the US are known for having centers that can stretch the floor. Critical to this battle will be which player has the ability to guard opposing big men away from the basket.
Final Verdict: Drummond
Maybe Next Time
Who do you think should be on Team USA?
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