Posted by John Schuhmann
NEW YORK – Here’s tonight’s story from the World Basketball Festival. It was just 24 minutes of basketball, but it was good to see the team take it seriously, despite the unusual environment.
While you can excuse the poor shooting because of the fact that they were playing on a stage, the turnovers (27 of ‘em) are a real concern.
UPDATE: I had originally written that there were 30 turnovers. 27 is the correct number.
At this point, I’m still not entirely sure who the three cuts will be, but it sounds like we’re going to find out sooner than we expected.
“Maybe we do let all 12 players know who we think are going to be the 12 before we depart [for Europe on Monday],” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “And if we bring one or two or three other players, they’ll know that they’re in reserve. They can practice and so forth. But it’s probably important before we depart to let the 12 players, whoever they are determined to be, to know they’re part of the 12.”
“We’re not rushing it, because all these guys have done a good job,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But at some point, you have to move on.
“That will be a tough decision, but those are good tough decisions to have.”
I think the most likely three to get cut will be Eric Gordon, Jeff Green and JaVale McGee. But there’s still a little bit of uncertainty, at least in my mind, and it mostly deals with McGee.
Gordon has continued to shoot the ball well in camp, but he is basically in a head-to-head competition with Stephen Curry. And Curry may have put an end to that competition with his four second-half threes on Thursday.
Sure, it was an intrasquad scrimmage, but with it being a tight game, that was as much pressure as these guys have had in their eight days of training thus far. And Curry stepped up and hit some big shots.
Green is a solid role player (which every team needs), but he hasn’t stood out at all. And with Danny Granger back from his finger injury, Green looks to be the one forward who won’t make the final roster. He gives you more on the interior, but Granger is the better shooter.
Now … McGee.
He didn’t help his cause with his play on Thursday, throwing up a backwards shot as he lost his balance in the lane on his first touch, and then following that up with a shaky 15-foot jumper (which he shouldn’t be taking at all on this team). But he’s still one of just two centers left on the roster.
So you definitely take him to Europe for the three exhibitions there, just in case Tyson Chandler gets injured. But what happens if Chandler gets injured in one of the first few games of the World Championship? There are no injury replacements or inactive list. That 12-man roster which needs to be submitted two days before the tournament begins is as final as final can be.
So is McGee one of the 12, in case of emergency? Maybe. Or maybe the staff feels that even if Chandler got hurt, they’d still feel more comfortable with Lamar Odom and Kevin Love manning the center position than throwing McGee out there and hoping he doesn’t make too many mistakes.
I think, in writing the above paragraph, I just convinced myself that McGee doesn’t make the team. We’ll see.
Anyway, if they think they need to keep him, then they’ve got to make a cut somewhere else. And that’s when it could really get interesting. Would they cut one of the four point guards? If so, it would have to be Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook. Or perhaps they would cut both Granger and Green.
We’ll find out soon enough. For now, I’m sticking with my Gordon-Green-McGee prediction.
In case you missed it earlier on Thursday, here was my story on the forward rotation, which seems to be materializing pretty clearly. And Andre Iguodala’s play on Thursday night strengthens my belief that he will be a starter.
I thought Odom’s play stood out on Thursday. Between the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas and several days of scrimmages in both Vegas and New York, I’ve seen this team play a lot of basketball. And this was the first time I feel that Odom really made his presence felt.
He had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, four boards, an assist and a steal. He knocked down two threes and even dunked on the guy that was dunking on everyone else.
So the Blue Team had the ball with the score tied for the final possession of regulation, and Mike D’Antoni chose not to put the ball in Kevin Durant‘s hands?
A drive-and-kick by Derrick Rose to Stephen Curry for a jumper is a nice second option, but how does KD not get the ball there?
Tomorrow I need to ask Chandler when the last time he had a game-winning basket was.
Despite the absence of Pau Gasol, Spain could still very well be called the favorite at the World Championship. They finalized their 12-man roster on Tuesday, and it looks very much like the squad that was right there with the U.S. in the final minutes of the gold medal game two years ago in Beijing.
Gasol was that team’s leading scorer and played the most minutes. But the next eight guys from that team in both points scored and minutes played in the 2008 Olympics are back on the roster.
Spain will have a dynamic point guard in Ricky Rubio; experience in the backcourt with Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro; scoring from Rudy Fernandez; a strong frontline with Marc Gasol, Fran Vazquez (who wasn’t on the ’08 team), Felipe Reyes, Alex Mumbru and Jorge Garbajosa; and the continuity of having played together that the Americans won’t.
Argentina also finalized its 12-man roster on Tuesday. They will be without Manu Ginobili, but they’ll have 10 of the other 12 guys from the roster that won bronze in Beijing, including Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola and point guard Pablo Prigioni.
I’ll take a much deeper look at the other teams in the World Championship next week. Stay tuned.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.