Posted by John Schuhmann
LAS VEGAS – The first week of USA Basketball training is over. And in two weeks, the team will get back together in New York. The story after Saturday’s Showcase was how in just five days, the team was able to establish both an identity and a core.
“I think we’ve really come together even more than I thought we could in these five days, while you’re still trying to do the selection process also,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
In the next 24 hours, four names will be removed from the current roster of 19. Who will they be? Here’s an educated guess…
1. Tyreke Evans - An easy call. Evans missed the last three days of camp with an ankle injury, and he was the fifth point guard on the depth chart anyway.
2. Eric Gordon - Gordon shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range on Saturday, but he didn’t have a strong week otherwise. And when Krzyzewski was asked about Gordon’s performance, he was quick to point out that Derrick Rose got him the ball in a good rhythm. Jerry Colangelo’s quote about Gordon was also rather non-committal. With the staff very high on Stephen Curry and O.J. Mayo also shooting well on Saturday, it sounds very much like Gordon won’t be going to New York.
3. Danny Granger, Jeff Green or Gerald Wallace – None of the three played very well on Saturday. Granger had a big performance against the Select Team on Friday and is obviously the best shooter of the three, but the other two are considered to be bigs in a group where size is at a premium. Wallace played just 12 1/2 minutes on Saturday, which I’m guessing may have been because the staff didn’t need to see much of him, already knowing they were taking him to New York.
4. JaVale McGee or Rajon Rondo - Tyson Chandler is clearly at the top of the center depth chart, but Colangelo has said that he would like to keep all three centers (Chandler, McGee and Brook Lopez) around. Still, after Saturday’s game, he said “we have to determine whether or not we have space in the 15 to bring [McGee] to New York.”
Rondo had seven assists on Saturday, but didn’t really distinguish himself. Defensively, he’s exactly what Krzyzewski wants (a ball-hawk), but offensively, the other three point guards in consideration are better suited for the international game. And indications are that both Rose and Westbrook outplayed Rondo over the course of the week.
The only other player who could possibly be a cut is O.J. Mayo. But in addition to shooting well, Mayo played strong defense on Saturday. And it’s hard to see them taking both Gordon and Mayo off the list and leaving Curry as the only true two guard.
Lopez was practically invisible on Saturday, and he’s not a great fit for the type of team they’re trying to build here. But they’ve got to keep him around as insurance for Chandler. I wrote Friday about the possibility of taking just one center to Turkey, but the more I think about it, the more I think Lopez has to make the team as the 12th man. What if Chandler gets hurt in the first few games?
With Rudy Gay playing so well (he shot a combined 18-for-23 in last year’s and this year’s Showcases), it seemed like Andre Iguodala might be on the outside looking in when the final roster is selected, but Krzyzewski had the following to say about Iguodala, who filled the boxscore with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists on Saturday:
“He just had a great week. I think any of these guys will tell you he’s an easy guy to play with. He doesn’t need the ball. I told him right after the ball game right out on the court I thought he was beautifully efficient.
“He can defend. You need guys out there who don’t have to touch the ball long. He’ll be one of the key guys for our basketball team.”
That last sentence is an indication that Iguodala has a great shot of making the team, if he’s not on it already.
So here’s an up-to-date guess (which is very subject to change) as to what the final roster will look like…
Guards: Billups, Rose, Westbrook, Curry
Wings: Durant, Iguodala, Gay
Bigs: Wallace, Love, Odom, Chandler, Lopez
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.