Team USA

Hey all.

So the Team USA roster scrimmaged yesterday, with the White team (led by Kevin Durant) defeating the Blue team 114-96. Here’s who I think should be among the final 12 to go to the World Championships in September…

Kevin Durant: the obvious choice, he will be the go-to scorer and has an almost unlimited range of offensive weapons in his arsenal. Scored 28 points in the Showcase, attempting just 17 field goals. Seems to be a perfect fit for international ball, being tall enough to slide to the 4 spot while being able to handle like a guard and start fast-breaks off missed attempts. Can stroke it from distance too, making 2 of 3 attempts from beyond he arc.

Chauncey Billups: didn’t have a great showcase, but will be in Turkey for his smarts and experience. Also, he’s a bigger point guard that can shoot and can move to the 2 if necessary.

Derrick Rose: ran the show superbly, scoring 15 points to go along with 8 assists and 5 steals. Not the greatest shooter but will probably more time on the floor with guys who are indeed knockdown shooters (Rudy Gay and Stephen Curry, for example). He’ll also be on the floor to push the pace and be an absolute pest defensively (didn’t think I’d ever be writing that about Derrick Rose).

Rudy Gay: he was on the losing end of the Showcase, but hit for 23 points on just 11 shot attempts and is a guy that can move to the 4 when USA goes small (which will be often). Proved in the last two years that he is more than capable of being the perfect secondary scorer to Kevin Durant, and is freakish enough athletically to get up and down on that break.

Tyson Chandler: will be the only true center, I believe, to make the trip to Worlds. Started off slowly in camp but had a nice showcase scoring 6-6 attempts from the field and finishing with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. His size and agility will come in handy when USA meets up with some teams with quality big men (Spain and Marc Gasol, Brazil and Tiago Splitter). Has also proven in the past to be an extremely effective pick-and-roll partner, and is a good offensive rebounder also.

Andre Iguodala: unselfish, multi-skilled and a good defender. He will be a perfect role-player for the USA team and can give you something offensively if necessary. Thrives on the fast-break and can handle the ball also. Will probably play a role similar to Dwyane Wade did in Beijing, coming of the bench and bringing defensive energy and highlight-reel dunks.

Russel Westbrook: he will be extremely useful to keep on the roster, having the skills to work as a combo guard while also being a defensive pest and getting out in transition. I fully expect him to be the second Thunder player to make the team.

Jeff Green: and on that note, I will now take the time to mention Green, who I believe will make if 3-3 Thunder guys on the roster. Perfect system guy that won’t demand the ball, is versatile enough to play spots 2-4 and can also hit the three ball. Given the lack of size on the roster, he will probably spend brief periods manning the middle also.

Kevin Love: I will be absolutely shattered if Love misses out on a trip to the worlds. I feel that he is the perfect guy for international ball. He is a mobile forward-center that can shoot out to the international three-point line and he gobbles up rebounds the way that pelicans gobble up pigeons. Love is also adept at rebounding the ball offensively, something that is extremely valuable in international ball (there is no goal-tending called if the ball is still inside the cylinder). Can play big minutes at the 4 or 5 and his outlet passes are a thing of beauty. Deserves a spot.

O.J. Mayo: big guard that can shoot and score and defend. He is humble and unselfish but can lead when called upon. Will likely play a lesser role on this team but still put up the sort of numbers that the stars do.

Stephen Curry: will probably play a big role in this team as a combo-guard that can stroke it like few others. Played will in the showcase and hit on 3-7 from beyond the arc. He can sneak in for rebounds and has shown he can lead a team and set guys up, averaging 5.9 assists in his rookie year.

Eric Gordon: the final spot, I believe, should go to Eric Gordon. He can shoot the basketball flat out, gets to the rim and has shown the versatility in his young career to be able to play both guard spots (and is strong enough to play the 3 in international ball, too).

So there are the twelve guys who I think will make the final roster to Turkey in September. At this point, the roster will only be cut to 14 or 15 guys for the exhibitions in New York, so there’s still chance for guys to prove themselves. This is a very early guess of who I think will go. The team is stacked at guard and wing, while lacking at the bigs, with only Love and Chandler being true big men. If the USA team gets out in transition, however, then this is less of an issue.

The other thing I hear is a lot of bellyaching from fans saying ‘oh, the team should have Wade/LeBron/Bosh/Paul etc.’ and ‘look at the guys going, we gonna lose now’. I just don’t see it. These guys may be younger, but most are go-to guys on their current teams and promise to have multiple All-Star appearances in the future. Kevin Durant is All-NBA. It doesn’t seem to me that there will be an issue winning the Worlds for the first time since 1994.

In addition, big names are missing from the powerhouse international teams. Pau Gasol is not playing for Spain, France is without Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is missing for Argentina. Brazil should be a handful with Leandro Barbosa, Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter, and Spain still have Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and Juan-Carlos Navarro. However, I don’t see the US team having a significant issue facing those teams. There are too many quality players for USA, in my opinion.

That’s about it from me, until next time. Cheers.

P.S. check out John Schuhmann’s thoughts about the roster over at NBA.com.

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  • By Loving Kevin « Daniel Cooper's NBA thoughts on August 6, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    […] I want to talk about Kevin Love. For those of you that read my Team USA post, you know that I am a big fan of Kevin Love. Truth be known, I like many players from the 2008 […]

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