By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
Posted Jul 26 2009 2:29AM
LAS VEGAS -- The last four days have been about helping a new group of players indoctrinated into the USA Basketball program. Getting the young guys familiar with how Jerry Colangelo, Mike Krzyzewski and their staff run things is critical to the future success of Team USA. Thanks to the last few days, as well as the continuity of the program since 2006, there shouldn't be any need to spend time on introductions or establishing program standards, because that's already been done.
But make no mistake about it, this week was also a tryout. Practices on Thursday and Friday, as well as the USA Basketball Showcase on Saturday, were used to evaluate the 20 players here and determine how worthy they are of being considered for the Team USA roster for the next three summers and beyond. It wasn't just about points, rebounds and assists, of course. The staff wanted to see how badly these guys wanted to be a part of Team USA and how well they worked with their teammates.
With that in mind, here are the 10 guys who did the most to help their stock over this week.
1. Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City
Showcase stats: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 5-12 fg, 1-4 3pt, 9-9 ft
In order to ensure a spot on next year's roster, Durant needed to show that he's more than just a scorer, and he did that. He was a factor defensively and also made plays for his teammates. It took some time for him to get going offensively on Saturday, but he got to the line often and got out in transition for some easy buckets. Barring injury, he's a lock to be making the trip to Turkey next summer.
2. Rudy Gay, SF, Memphis
Showcase stats: 27 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 11-12 fg, 3-4 3pt, 2-2 ft
The numbers say it all. Nobody was sharper offensively than Gay. We know he's an athletic freak, but he had his jumper going all week, making him impossible to guard. But because he plays the same position as Durant, he may not find a spot on the roster.
3. Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago
Showcase stats: 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3-7 fg, 0-1 3pt
Rose made a couple of nice plays on Saturday, but didn't stand out and had twice as many turnovers (four) as assists. He was one of the best players in practice though, and is the favorite to take the third point guard spot on the roster next year.
4. Andre Iguodala, SF, Philadelphia
Showcase stats: 7 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 3-6 fg, 1-2 3pt
The USA Basketball staff loves versatility, and Iguodala provides it. He was the only player in camp that can be a lock-down defender, rebound well, handle the ball with confidence, and finish strong on the other end. He should definitely receive consideration for the roster in the next few years, but may be caught in a numbers game with so many good small forwards.
5. Devin Harris, PG, New Jersey
Showcase stats: DNP
Harris turned his left ankle on Friday and was held out of the Showcase for precautionary reasons, but it's relatively minor. Before the injury, he was right there with Rose in the first two days of practice and it wouldn't be a total shock if he beat out the Rookie of the Year for the third point guard spot next year. One of the real veterans among the group, he showed leadership all week.
6. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City
Showcase stats: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3-5 fg, 1-2 3pt
Over the course of the three days, nobody made more plays for himself or his teammates than Westbrook. He's got great hands defensively and picked up a couple of steals in the backcourt on Saturday. He's also lightning fast and can jump out of the gym. But his decision-making was hit or miss, as he would often over-penetrate and lose the ball when he got into a crowd.
7. Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota
Showcase stats: 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2-5 fg, 0-1 3pt
Though he didn't do much on Saturday, Love opened some eyes with his performance in the two days of practice. He rebounded well on both ends, passed well, and shot well from mid-range. He's young, but there will be a need for another big man next year, and he was the best big in camp.
8. Jeff Green, PF, Oklahoma City
Showcase stats: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2-8 fg, 1-4 3pt, 3-4 ft
Green doesn't stand out with anything he does, but after watching him for a while, you realize that he does everything pretty well and doesn't hurt you. After sitting out some time with an arm injury, he hit a big shot in one of the scrimmages on Friday, and he came out strong on Saturday, before slowing down in the second half.
9. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
Showcase stats: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 7-8 fg, 1-1 3pt, 3-4 ft
Until Saturday, none of the four centers in camp had really distinguished themselves. Greg Oden defended the rim well, but two steps behind offensively. JaVale McGee and Anthony Randolph showed flashes, but got pushed around by the bigger guys. And Lopez just never got a rhythm going. But he did in the Showcase, benefitting from the penetration of his teammates, rolling to the basket well and finishing strong (he had two and-ones). When he didn't play well earlier, it was often because he was hesitant with the ball.
10. Kyle Korver, SF, Utah
Showcase stats: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 5-11 fg, 2-5 3pt
Korver never really got hot over the three days, but still shot the ball pretty well. And he showed that he can be more than just a shooter. When he caught a pass off a screen, he was quick to recognize help from the defense, finding his teammate open on the baseline on several occasions. In general, he played hard and somehow, came up with three blocked shots on Saturday.
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