Update: *Paul Millsap has been invited to participate in the training camp for Team USA. This changes a lot of things with my initial piece. He can stretch the floor at the power forward position and I think he would be picked up instead of Faried.
No LeBron, Carmelo, Paul, Griffin, Leonard, Aldridge and now no Love. I still don’t think that will be a problem for Team USA as they get ready for the FIBA World Cup beginning August 30th in Spain. They still have known players like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and James Harden but now we get to see some more young players showcase their skills.
There are just five things I think will happen during Team USA training camp.
1. The Locks
There are a few locks for this team. Let’s start with the obvious choice, the MVP, Kevin Durant. I don’t really need to say anything about Kevin Durant. Joining him as a lock for me is Stephen Curry, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Paul George. Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the league. He’s a good passer and we know he can get hot quickly. He will be a great asset for the National Team. James Harden was on the 2012 National Team coming off the bench. He might come off the bench again but more in the Carmelo Anthony role. He has International experience and he is a threat to stretch the floor although his defense will be a problem. DeMarcus Cousins gets a boost because Kevin Love is not playing. Love is a stretch four who would thrive in FIBA. Cousins is the big man they need to bang in the paint. This team is small and they would prefer Anthony Davis to play power forward. He has great skills but he can be a hothead. I expect him to grow up while on this team. Anthony Davis is getting better and was also on the 2012 team. He has improved his game, he’s a shot blocker and he can run the floor. Paul will be needed for his defense. He can guard multiple positions and might be needed to guard a lot of international power forwards.
2. The Shooters
This team has a plethora of young shooters to choose from. Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Chandler Parsons can all stretch the floor. Add in the veteran Kyle Korver and it will be hard pressed to choose from this list. I think Kyrie Irving will make the team because he played well while on the US Select Team. He is probably a favorite of coach K because he went to Duke. I think he will be the backup point guard. Klay Thompson stands out on this list because he shoots 41% and he’s tall. He’s 6’7 and can guard multiple positions. Parsons does not shoot it as well as the other guys on this list but he is a defender and that might help him if he shoots the ball well in training camp. This is important for Team USA since they are a small team. Beal and Lillard might be a toss-up at this point. Whoever shoots the ball more consistently will make the team.
3. Derrick Rose
I think Derrick Rose will play well throughout training camp. He won’t be the old Rose just yet but he will look good enough to make the team. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is on the coaching staff and I think he will influence Rose to sit out the FIBA tournament. However last time Rose played in FIBA he returned to the NBA and won the MVP award. He will benefit greatly from participating in training camp. He will be playing against a tough group of young guards and he will have a lot to prove. I would not be shocked if he is selected though.
4. The Opportunists
Watch out for Kenneth Faried and John Wall. Faried is not as talented as the other guys on this list but he brings lots of energy and toughness. There is a lack of big men on this team and Andre Drummond is not polished enough for international play. He grabs rebounds but he can’t knock down a free throw to save his life. Faried will be an interesting pick for this team; he can backup Cousins and Davis. John Wall will play that Russell Westbrook role this time around. He will come off the bench for defense and exciting fastbreaks. This team has shooters but not all of them are great facilitators or defenders. Wall led the NBA in total assists, he can play defense which can lead to easy baskets. I expect these two to make this roster.
5. Odd men out
DeMar DeRozan and Gordon Hayward are good players but I don’t think they will make the team. DeRozan is a solid two guard but he can’t stretch the floor like Beal or Thompson. He is not a great defender like Paul George or a decent defender like Klay Thompson. Hayward has great guard skills and can play multiple positions. His shooting went down this past season but maybe this training camp can help him find his shooting touch. The experience will be good for both of these guys going into next season.
So these are my picks for Team USA
Guards: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Bradley Beal
Forwards: Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kenneth Faried, Kyle Korver
Center: DeMarcus Cousins
The Starting five would be: Curry, George, Durant, Davis and Cousins