Team USA’s Clear Choices
August 30th marks the start of the FIBA World Cup and Team USA’s roster has yet to be announced. Not much attention has been given to a tournament the U.S. should win, but teams are getting stronger and will attempt to upset them in obtaining a spot for the next Olympic games.
There are a few players who are locks to be picked, a few who’ve already announced they will not be participating leaving room for those who would not be picked otherwise and a few more who are highly talented, but the depth at that position will leave them on the outside looking in.
Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Derrick Rose will be on the roster with 100 percent certainty. Durant is the best player under consideration and the player Mike Krzyzewski will look to lead above the rest. Davis has the potential to be the next “best player in the NBA” and talent pool for big man is pretty thin in the training camp. Despite coming off missing two years of action, Rose is a former MVP and will play with the desperation of a player with a chip on his shoulder to show that he can still play at that high of a level, while already impressing coaches.
Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George and James Harden are players who are pretty much set in stone to travel to Spain for the Cup as well. Curry is a dangerous sharpshooter who can play with or without the ball depending on who else is on the floor with him. Cousins is another big body and a bit underrated despite putting up monster numbers during the regular season.
George and Harden are both wings who are versatile. They’ve both played big minutes in big games during their careers and Harden already has a gold medal playing for the 2012 Olympic team. George would be the team’s defensive specialist and his length allows him to guard anyone on the floor since international ball is essentially small ball. Harden’s offensive repertoire will give other teams’ players headaches.
Those are seven of the twelve slots allotted to each team and the next five in my opinion, are based on need and specific talents rather than who is the better overall player.
When pairing with Curry in the backcourt, his Golden State teammate Klay Thompson has proven to be just as unstoppable of a shooter by spotting up or getting his own shot. He’s no slouch defensively either and can guard opposing teams’ one, two and threes and hit the post consistently.
Andre Drummond should be the third big man chosen (not counting the length Durant) as a backup option. Spain has both Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, which Team USA will likely meet at some point. Drummond will be a security blanket if Davis gets into foul trouble and Cousins’s attitude gets him into any type of trouble as they are both prone to do. His offensive skills are those of a clean-up man, but he is a solid defensive anchor which allows him to beat out a more athletic weapon in Kenneth Faried.
Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving are the two best choices to take up the last of the guard spots on the team. Irving has been injury prone, but his ability to heat up quickly would give Team USA a great option to go to in spurts if they ever come out sputtering. Lillard doesn’t rank farther back offensively, is a better shooter and proved since his first game in the NBA that he is mentally up for any challenge. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot last season and that could prove vital on a team lacking players with championship winning experience. They both were also invited to camp before John Wall, giving either one the edge over the Washington guard.
That leaves my final pick: Kyle Korver. He’s not as flashy as DeMar DeRozan or sought after like Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward, but the abilities he does possess could give Coach Krzyzewski another defender who can shoot lights out without the ball constantly in his hands. Teaming him with Thompson, Curry, Durant and any big man in the post, will give them all more space than any have ever had to shoot or create off the dribble.
From those 12 players, the clear starters are Davis, Durant, George, Rose and Curry. Harden could be a starter instead of Curry or Rose, but he has the experience to lead bench units.
The coaching staff will have to think hard about what different lineups to use with a bevy of weapons at their disposal. Each lineup can space the floor to its limits and can match up with anyone defensively. Other countries have grown their own spectacular talent pools over the years to give the U.S. trouble in games, but nothing can really beat American muscle.