USA Basketball Showcase big for roster hopefuls


VIDEO: Through the Lens: USA Basketball Practice, Day 3

LAS VEGAS – Thursday was a light, no-contact day at USA Basketball training camp. On the fourth day of preparations for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Select Team was gone and the Senior Team just went through drills and shooting.

This was to make sure everybody was fresh for Friday’s USA Basketball Showcase, an intra-squad scrimmage that could go a long way in determining who will still be with this team when it reconvenes in Chicago on Aug. 14 and who won’t.

“Tomorrow night,” USA managing director Jerry Colangelo said Thursday, “if somebody just knocks somebody out, in terms of performance, that’s big. That is a big factor. So, not to put pressure on anyone, but it’s one thing to practice, it’s another thing to play in games.”

Here are the rosters for the game, with the players’ potential positions for the National Team …

Pos Blue White
PG Derrick Rose Kyrie Irving
PG John Wall
1/2 Stephen Curry Damian Lillard
2/3 DeMar DeRozan Bradley Beal
2/3 Kyle Korver James Harden
2/3 Klay Thompson
3/4 Paul George Kevin Durant
3/4 Gordon Hayward Chandler Parsons
4 Kenneth Faried Paul Millsap
5 Anthony Davis DeMarcus Cousins
5 Mason Plumlee Andre Drummond

We won’t know the details of the roster reduction until Saturday at the earliest. Neither will the players, who’ve been left in the dark about their status all week. Colangelo, head coach Mike Krzyzewski and their staff will meet after the game, discuss and evaluate what they saw.

“This isn’t evaluating one individual and his game,” Krzyzewski said Thursday. “It’s about evaluating a group and how a group will go together. All these guys are outstanding players. It’s just a matter of how we feel they can mesh as a unit.”

The U.S. won’t necessarily cut the roster down to 12 when it departs for the Canary Islands (for four more days of training and an exhibition against Slovenia) on Aug. 23. They took extra bodies abroad in 2010 and could do so again.

“I’m not saying we are going to do that,” Krzyzewski said, “but we don’t have to have the 12 until the day before [the World Cup begins]. We’d rather have it done before, but we’ll see.”

Here’s how I believe the roster stands at this point …

The locks

There are six guys who, barring injury, will absolutely on the team as it opens pool play at the World Cup on Aug. 30. They are (in alphabetical order) …

Stephen Curry - Curry didn’t play big minutes on the 2010 team that won gold in Istanbul, but he’s blown up on the NBA level since. It looks like he’ll be the sixth man, though he could be a starter at either guard position.

Anthony Davis - The starting center and likely one of two guys who will play big minutes (around 30 per game, maybe more in the final). Though he barely played in 2012, his last-minute addition to that roster (due to a Blake Griffin injury) is turning out to be a blessing. That experience will go a long way.

“It’s one of those things,” Krzyzewski said Thursday, “where a really good thing happened even though something bad happened.”

Kevin Durant - Well, duh.

Paul George - The starting small forward alongside Durant. He’ll get the toughest perimeter defensive assignment.

James Harden - Likely the starting shooting guard, who will share playmaking responsibilities with Rose and Curry.

Derrick Rose - Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski have been downright giddy about what they’ve seen from Rose this week. He’s looked strong and in control, and his jumper is better than ever. It would be a real surprise if he isn’t the starting point guard against Finland on Aug. 30.

The other point guard

Colangelo told USA Today on Wednesday that it would be hard to keep more than one “pure point” on the roster, and labeled Rose, Kyrie Irving and John Wall as the true points in camp.

So it seems clear that one roster spot will come down to Irving vs. Wall. Irving is the more dynamic one-on-one player, but Wall is the better passer and defender.

Also, while Irving (35.8 percent) was a slightly better 3-point shooter than Wall (35.1 percent) overall last season, Wall was much better on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Wall had a 3-point percentage of 43.1 percent and an effective field-goal percentage of 60.8 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, while Irving’s numbers were just 32.1 percent and 46.0 percent. Opponents will pack the paint and hope the U.S. Team is having an off night from the perimeter, so catch-and-shoot skills should be more important than pull-up skills with this team.

The specialists

Colangelo has said that, beyond a core of seven or eight guys, you need specialists. Those specialists could be energy guys, defenders, shooters or big man insurance.

There are two guys that fit the bill better than anyone. And beyond the six locks above, I’d label them as the most likely to make the roster (though that doesn’t mean they’ll have big roles).

Kenneth Faried – He doesn’t seem to fit in international basketball, because he’s 6-8 and can’t shoot. But he has ridiculous energy and bounce, he can finish on the break and he will outwork guys on the glass. Krzyzewski can put Faried into the game for a few minutes at a time, tell him to wreak some havoc and be confident that he will make a positive impact.

Kyle Korver – You know why he’s here. But the league-leader in 3-point percentage won’t hurt you defensively. He’s improved quite a bit on that end of the floor over the years.

These guys have unique skills, and both can be trusted to happily accept a limited role.

The rest of the core

So, if there are six locks and a seven- or eight-man core, who makes up the rest of the core? Colangelo wouldn’t bite at that question, but said they’re pretty set on who it is.

“That’s been pretty consistent,” he said. “It just depends. Is the core group seven or is it eight?”

The best bet to be that seventh or eighth guy is Klay Thompson, a guy who can shoot and play a little D on the wing.

The other big

Oh boy. This tweet from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst really stirred up some stuff Thursday evening …

The DeMarcus Cousins/Mason Plumlee debate is fascinating, and it’s too early to say that any decision has been made regarding the two. In fact, it’s extremely likely that both Cousins and Plumlee (and all the other bigs) will continue with the team to Chicago and New York, so that the staff can see them against other teams.

“This is a camp that is a month long,” Colangelo said, “not five days.”

The stop in Chicago will include an exhibition against Brazil, which has the front line - Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao - that most closely resembles Spain, the team, if any, that the U.S. would plan for when building its roster.

But the U.S. doesn’t necessarily have to match up against the World Cup hosts. In fact, in the gold medal game of the 2012 Olympics, the three U.S. bigs – Kevin Love (19), Tyson Chandler (9) and Davis – combined to play just 29 minutes against Spain.

Davis could play that many himself this year. And if the U.S. does face Spain in another gold medal game, the hosts would worry about matching up with the Americans (namely Durant) as much as the opposite. The only difference between 2012 and this year is that the U.S. had bulkier forwards (LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony), who didn’t give up as much size to opposing bigs, while forcing them to try to guard them on the perimeter.

Back to Cousins/Plumlee, and back to Krzyzewski’s quote above about how the team will “mesh as a unit.”

Cousins’ advantages over other bigs are reduced when he’s not a focal point of the offense. And when he’s playing with the likes of Rose, Curry, Harden and Durant, he’s certainly not going to be that. He’s not getting 10 (or even three) post-ups as a back-up center on this team. And he doesn’t have the end-to-end speed to play the style that has been successful for the U.S. over the last several years.

“The style we play lends itself to what Anthony does,” Krzyzewski said, “or even what a Plumlee is doing. A little bit of [Andre] Drummond.

“DeMarcus’ game is different, so he has an adjustment to make and he’s trying to make it. But also, as he grows, we have to look and see ‘Is there something we can do to help in bringing something more out of his game?’”

For Colangelo, the Cousins/Plumlee decision is about continuity from the starters to the bench.

“If you want to play a certain style,” he said, “you need the personnel to play that way. Now, some guys don’t really fit that way, but if there’s enough reason to carry someone … we play differently when he’s in the game. You have to make an adjustment.”

Plumlee does what they like. He runs the floor, he’s active and vocal on defense, and he stays in his lane. He’s certainly not perfect – it could be bad news if he has to make decisions with the ball or shoot free throws – but his type is a better fit on this team, especially when you’re talking about a roster spot that will see limited playing time. And yes, Cousins’ temperament is always a factor.

Drummond is definitely still in the picture, so this could be a three-man race for that back-up center spot. And it’s a race that will likely go from Vegas to Chicago to New York.

“We’re going to take a long look at our bigs,” Krzyzewski said.

Paul Millsap is likely in competition with Faried for the smaller big man spot. Millsap offers better offensive skills and floor spacing, but in short bursts, it seems clear that Faried can make a more immediate impact. It should also be noted that Faried was on the original roster, while Millsap volunteered to come when Kevin Love dropped out.

The redundancies

In answering a question about Gordon Hayward on Thursday, Colangelo said, “We have a lot of redundancy at certain positions and body types and sizes,” and put Hayward in the same category with Chandler Parsons and DeMar DeRozan.

“This will be very competitive for a number of guys because of the redundancy,” Colangelo said. “You could go one way or another.”

If you go back to those catch-and-shoot numbers, Parsons (41.4 percent on catch-and-shoot threes) was much better than DeRozan (34.0 percent) or Hayward (31.8 percent). He’s also a good playmaker, so give him the edge going into Friday night.

The other guards

Damian Lillard is thought of here as a one/two in the mold of Curry. And it’s hard to see them taking two of those. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he definitely won’t be in Chicago or that the staff doesn’t like him, but he seems the most likely to be done after Friday.

Bradley Beal has flown under the radar this week and is probably behind Thompson in the two/three consideration. But nobody should be eliminated from potentially being on the 15-man list before Friday’s Showcase.

The wild card

Colangelo told Chris Haynes of Comcast Sportsnet that it’s not impossible for Love to ultimately be on the World Cup roster. Love withdrew from camp because of trade uncertainty, but again, the roster doesn’t have to be set until Aug. 29.

Cavs No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins is eligible to be traded on Aug. 23. So, it’s possible that Love could be dealt to Cleveland and then decide to play at the World Cup.

That could obviously send a bad message – that you can skip training camp and still play – to other U.S. players. But if it comes down to a decision between Kevin Love and Mason Plumlee, it may be difficult not to compromise your principles.

Predictions

So here’s a guess of what the roster will look like after it’s reduced this weekend, in the order they were addressed above …

  1. Stephen Curry
  2. Anthony Davis
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. Paul George
  5. James Harden
  6. Derrick Rose
  7. Kyrie Irving or John Wall
  8. Kyle Korver
  9. Kenneth Faried
  10. Klay Thompson
  11. DeMarcus Cousins
  12. Andre Drummond
  13. Mason Plumlee
  14. Chandler Parsons
  15. Bradley Beal or Gordon Hayward or Paul Millsap or Irving/Wall

No. 15 will depend on what the staff thinks it needs and who played well on Friday. And the number of players going to Chicago doesn’t necessarily have to be 15.

47 Comments

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  2. ezekiel says:

    I truly feel that Cousins be a better fit for this FIBA team in a run for the gold. Drummonds is good, but for the art of mixture and international play, Cousins is my guy. Its a tough pick with Wall and Irving, I like both players very much, Irving more so for National play and I must say Wall is better play for International competition. Love waiving his play due because of trade decisions, principles has to take place here and playing guys whom attended the training camp and working for a spot as opposed to a more talented player who does not partake in training for the internantional play thats unfair and bias….there should not be a place for this, all should be put to the test of qualifications, as we can see Durant certainly not taking the training lightly, neither is Rose earning them a lock spot on the USA FIBA world cup team. That roster from Savage post seems about accurate as it can get except for the exception of Drummond, I still would say Damarcus Cousins will be a more physical and mixture to put other international teams on the sleeping end that when they thinck Cousins is more a slow and half court player then it will effect to turn it up another notch…He’s got play but like Rasheed Wallace in the past they penalize him for his temperment.

  3. perucot says:

    skilled roster, a little small
    no hate there but i don’t understand the paul george lock, average defense, good-average offense, a lot of forced,decisions, shots. he has an MVP attitude but nothing about real impact and real skill for me. i don’t know. there is obviously something i don’t see with that guy because i know the staff is no stupid and know what they are doing

  4. josheep says:

    rose
    irving
    curry
    wall
    durant
    george
    parsons
    millsap
    cousins
    drummond
    davis
    korver
    thompson security

  5. Ngoo Nam says:

    Just take all of them. Let them have a good time and trounce the competition!

  6. Slim 86 says:

    I don’t see Thompson and Korver both making the roster. Klay Thompson will make the team over Korver because he is a more versatile scorer and defender. Also this roster will have enough shooting with Durant, Curry, Thompson and a few others.

  7. Harlem Trotter says:

    Kyrie better be on the team. Hes got the best handles in the NBA, and hes a better shooter than Wall, Rose and probably Lillard. He was the only good player on the Cavs last year, it’s not really fair to throw catch and shoot percentages out there without giving context

  8. ray Jackson says:

    I think four guards can put pressure on ball n da bigs can run.Durant George Harden can just flat out play

  9. Lillard Time says:

    Theres no way Lillard gets left off this team for Wall or Irving. They said it would be hard to take more then 1 true point, that will be Rose. So hes indicating that the other Points will be 1/2s So Curry and Lillard will be the ones going. If they want the best shooters to spread the floor then Lillard Is a lock. Hes also shown huge improvements on his D. Oh and he has Ice in his veins and will show up big in the finals for this inexperienced team.

  10. Bob Ellison says:

    LILLARD. In Crunch time, for a winning shot — as NBA.com reported a few months ago — LILLARD hit 10 of 19!

    And CARMELO, in the same situation — made only a feeble 2 out of 19!

    LILLARD’s a cold-blooded killer, & DOMINATES in pressure situations!

    He must be on the team.

  11. Mungus says:

    I would pick Lillard over both Wall and Irving, just my opinion though.

  12. Ronny Hudson says:

    What do they not see in Drummond did anybody see his play with Detroit or the Rising Stars Game

  13. LU says:

    yea kd travled so did rose at the end but all in all you kids picking rosters ain’t watching them play together and our bias on what u saw in the season yea lillard played great in the playoffs but how is he meshing with players he hasn’t played with before these are the factors that get you cut or not. Rose is better then anyone at usa right now every coach is saying that and that is what really matters i like walls game and kyrie over lillard to be honest lillard is good and im sure the effort is there but hes the type that will always need the ball in his hands look how he is in portland its a two man show down there rose makes an entire team better the bulls went from not even being in the playoffs or first round exits to automatic championship contenders so it is what it is. When it comes down to it our opinion means nothing

  14. lbj-- says:

    this roster won’t earn them the FIBA world championship, they need to join the King LeBron in cleveland then use the team USA jerseys as a subterfuge

  15. Erikgarcia says:

    Right now, we could not afford to send 12 non-all start players to FIBA World Cup because teams are getting better and better each time. If we want to win, we should send the best of the best!

  16. Dcon says:

    IS this going to be televised?

  17. Pinokio says:

    awesome video. 2 minutes of slow motion and two traveling errors during….

  18. CM Diaz says:

    I don’t see why they would put D. Rose in the USA team??? please let him just play one whole season before he ends his career with another knee injury. IMHO these should be the 12 to make it to the USA team.

    Starters should be
    PG Steph Curry
    SG James Harden
    SF Paul George
    PF Kevin Durant
    C Andre Drummond

    Bench
    PG Kyrie Irving
    PG Damien Lillard
    SG Klay Thompson
    SF Chandler Parsons
    SF Kenneth Faried
    PF/C Anthony Davis
    C/PF Demarcus Cousins

  19. sonnybelfast says:

    DMC…the most bruising, and the most skilled all around, by far….

  20. thespectator says:

    who cares, waiting for opening day

  21. Sop says:

    Drummond is a better choice than Cousins for this team.
    1. Cousins should not represent the USA. He’s still a major a$$hole who’s just slightly better at hiding it.
    2. Cousins is not a good, end of your rotation guy as his ego is to big.
    3. Cousins is a low post scorer not an energy guy off the bench, which the US needs and Drummond can be.
    4. Drummond is a better shot blocker and has better athleticism.
    5. Drummond is great in the locker room and open to coaching.
    6. Drummond’s game is very complementary to the star as he doesn’t need the ball to haul in loads of ORs.
    7. Drummond is quicker and can get out on runs better than Cousins.
    8. Drummond is the future of USA Basketball at the Center spot. He’s 3 YEARS younger than Cousins, way more explosive and needs help to develop his game. Yes USA should be focused on winning the tournament, but they also need to remember to keep an eye on developing future national team players. Pick Drummond and do both.
    9. Even though Drummond is 3 years younger than Cousins there is no conclusive evidence from NBA head-to-head match ups vs. each other or vs. Marc Gasol or Jonas Valaciunas who the better of the the 2 US centers is.
    10. Taking both is also an ok option, but taking Plumlee, Milsap, or Faried over the guy who recorded the 2nd most double-doubles in the league last year (Drummond) would be a huge insult. If it happened hopefully Drummond would get over it in 2 years by which time he will be the 2nd most dominant post-player behind Dwight and Colangelo will be calling about the Olympic Team.

  22. SAVAGE22 says:

    & KEVIN LOVE IS GREAT BUT NO, HE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PLAY IF HE MISSES CAMP…

    • The Truth says:

      Kevin Love is so overrated. He puts up great numbers in points and rebounds but remember Boozer once put up great numbers. It’s called standing in the paint and waiting for the ball, very little defense. These type of players aka: your Melos, Loves, and Boozers will never win championships unless totally surounded by other talent. Love has never even made it to the playoffs. And when I watch him play for team USA he lacks the most talent. Sorry, I am going to upset a lot of people here. Love is good but not great and Never worth what he thinks he is worth. My opinion, as it is.

  23. SAVAGE22 says:

    USA FINAL ROSTER HEADED TO SPAIN SHOULD BE:

    -DERRICK ROSE
    -JAMES HARDEN
    -PAUL GEORGE
    -KEVIN DURANT
    -ANTHONY DAVIS
    -STEPH CURRY
    -MASON PLUMLEE
    -JOHN WALL
    -KYLE KORVER
    -ANDRE DRUMMOND
    -KLAY THOMPSON
    -KENNETH FARIED

    #WEBELIEVE #GOLDISOURS

    • dondonscreek says:

      agree!!!! this should be the final line up

    • The Truth says:

      Not bad! I might try to slip in Lillard in that roster somehow, maybe over Wall.

    • Dan says:

      Not bad at all. I’d take Lillard over Wall as well. I’d also take Hayward over either Korver or Thompson. With PG’s injury it looks like 3 of Hayward/Korver/Thompson/Parsons/Derozan will make the team. I’d take Hayward, Thompson and Korver.

  24. asda says:

    USA could have brought 12 non allstars and still win the world cup.

  25. harrythehawk says:

    Any coach of Demarcus Cousins has concerns. But the man is a very good basketball player. It’s too bad he has such a bad reputation that he regularly lives up to. Also, I’m sorry you Kyrie Irving fans, I think John Wall should be selected over him. He may not be as fast and quick, but he is a better team player overall. Kyrie likes to be a one man show.

  26. adot says:

    Cousins!!!!!!!!

  27. AA says:

    DeMarcus Cousins is a lock
    End of debate

  28. cp10 says:

    I agree regarding Anthony Davis, I thought he was big during the Olympics, and wasn’t that his rookie year too? Watching these videos the man looks like he has pogo sticks in his shoes.

  29. Mata ED says:

    Really, you don’t even consider Damian lillard. He deserves to be the third point guard easily considering he’s in a better team than both john and Irving and also his clutch playoff performances.

  30. browning says:

    Seems like D Cousins has to be pushed to perform……I think he is more talented but EFFORT is what coaches should reward…..and to play for USA the EFFORT should be there EVERY night. I say bench Cousins and keep wall or Irving for #15
    Personally I like Wall.

    • The Truth says:

      Cousins won’t make the roster, he doesn’t mesh with the group as well, besides, seriously who would wanna coach a hot head.

  31. FanFrSingapore says:

    Korver or Thompson for me, just one of them… it is very difficult to slot Parsons in.. he is known for his fast break only, where other forwards or even John Wall as a pg can outrun anyone on court… would rather go for Derozan..

  32. Justin Mullen says:

    I think the U.S.A would fair well if the team kept all four point guards. It is a unique dilemma because traditionally teams don’t keep four point guards, but what fairs well for them is that they all have different and interchangeable skill sets. Three out of the four are above average shooters ( Curry, Lillard and Irving). Two out of the four are excellent shot makers ( Irving and Curry). Two out of the four can legitimately play the two spot (primarily offensively). Two out of the four are studs on the defensive end (Wall and Wall lol……). Keeping all four of the guards would fair well for the team in international play is about tempo, shooting and playmaking.

  33. Kobe-Nash-Boozer-Young-Hill says:

    That’s travelling KD..