You probably heard already, but Team USA got together last week for a mini camp and scrimmage. The White Team, led by Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis, won the exhibition in front of the crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. It was an off year mini-camp, which means the big names from Olympic and World Championship teams of recent years did not participate.
This mini-camp was all about laying the foundation for future tournaments, tournaments as soon as the 2014 World Cup.
A maximum of 12 of the nearly 30 players who participated in camp last week are eligible for next summer's FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain. However, that number reduced to 10 and may go lower. Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, members of both the 2010 World Championship team and the 2012 Olympic gold medal team, have both committed to Team USA next year. Durant's teammate Russell Westbrook has also expressed interest in playing next year.
That leaves nine spots left. And Durant has mentioned he wants his old running mate James Harden on the team as well. However, there is no indication from Harden that he wants in next summer. However, let us assume Westbrook is in and take a very early look at next summer's squad.
Guards: Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal
- Guards are the toughest to project because there are a ton of top-flight point guards, but fewer upper echelon shooting guards. Westbrook, Curry and obviously Beal can play off the ball and all of these guards can handle the ball enough. It is tough to leave John Wall off and, if Harden is in, Beal or Lillard are likely out. Due to his shooting and size, Klay Thompson is also an option here.
Wings: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Harrison Barnes
- Durant, the unquestioned captain of Team USA will see major minutes at both forward spots. Behind him, three versatile wings who all had breakout playoff performances. George seems like as much of a lock as any. Leonard did not participate in camp to let a bulky knee recover, but was probably the second best Spur in the Finals, he can defend both forward spots. Same goes for Barnes, who played a ton of small ball-4 in the postseason and looked impressive in last week's scrimmage, leading the Blue squad with 18 points including this piece of awesomeness.
Bigs: Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Derrick Favors
- Love's rebounding and versatile offensive game make him a fantastic big man in international competition. Team USA has not seen a big man with Davis' skill set since Kevin Garnett helped Team USA win gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. His size and athleticism will be an amazing asset squashing opposing teams' pick and rolls. In my mind, the last spot comes down to Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins. While Cousins brings a better and more versatile offensive game, I believe Favors is the pick here because he can be the defensive anchor similar to what Tyson Chandler was in 2010 and 2012. How Favors develops this season as the team's starting power forward will go a long way in determining his hopes for a roster spot in 2014.
Photo: Sporting News
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