Posted Jul 19 2010 10:41AM
The next generation of USA Basketball will gather in Las Vegas on Monday and begin training camp Tuesday, in preparation for the 2010 FIBA World Championship, which takes place in Turkey from Aug. 28 through Sept. 12.
No members of the 2008 gold-winning Olympic team will be participating this summer, so USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski will be building an entirely new team over the next six weeks. And they won't have the ability to rely on the talents of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company.
Team USA also will have to build its chemistry. That 2008 Olympic team had the same starting lineup as the team that won the FIBA Americas tournament in 2007.
Colangelo and Krzyzewski are bringing 21 players to Las Vegas. Eventually, they'll have to trim that list down to 12.
Here's a breakdown of the team in the recent past, and a look at what the USA Basketball braintrust will work with in the next few weeks:
*Starter (majority of games)
2006: Chris Paul*, Kirk Hinrich
2007: Jason Kidd*, Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams
2008: Jason Kidd*, Chris Paul, Deron Williams
The candidates: Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook
Billups should be a lock for three reasons. First, he has 139 games of NBA playoff experience. Second, he's a proven leader. And third, he's one of the only two shooters in the group.
Colangelo told NBA.com that Billups could also play the two, and the same could be said about Curry, the other shooter. Colangelo also mentioned Rajon Rondo's playoff experience, but as the smallest of the group, Rondo could be the least fit for the international game, where much more contact is allowed on the perimeter.
Defensively, Rondo should stand out, but Westbrook should also have an advantage on that end. The competition for the two roster spots after Billups should be fierce. That extra year of experience for Rose and Westbrook may make the difference.
Early Prediction: Billups, Rose and Westbrook
2006: Shane Battier*, LeBron James*, Joe Johnson, Dwyane Wade
2007: Kobe Bryant*, LeBron James*, Mike Miller, Michael Redd
2008: Kobe Bryant*, LeBron James*, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade
The candidates: Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Andre Iguodala, O.J. Mayo
Durant is on the team and is likely to be the starting small forward when the U.S. takes the floor against Croatia on Aug. 28. The biggest unknown going into camp may be who the starting two guard will be.
You can separate the rest of this group into shooters and non-shooters. Figure that either Mayo or Gordon make the team for their shooting, and Granger would be valuable as a combo-forward. Iguodala is the most experienced and is also the best defender, so Gay may be the odd man out.
Early prediction: Durant, Granger, Mayo and Iguodala
2006: Carmelo Anthony*, Antawn Jamison
2007: Carmelo Anthony*, Tayshaun Prince
2008: Carmelo Anthony*, Tayshaun Prince
The candidates: Jeff Green, Lamar Odom, Gerald Wallace
Anthony is an NBA three, but he was Team USA's starting power forward for three years. And LeBron James or Prince played the four when Anthony went to the bench. In international competition, you need a four who can shoot and defend on the perimeter, so that's why Kevin Love, a prototypical power forward in the NBA, is not included in this group.
Granger has the size to be a four in international competition, and Durant could see some time there as well. But there should be room on the roster for at least one or two of these guys that have actually played the four in the NBA.
Odom should be a lock with his experience and versatility. Wallace is a terrific defender and rebounder, and is actually the best shooter of the group. Green has been a part of the USA Basketball program for a while now, and always shows well in camp. But somebody in this group has to stay home.
Early Prediction: Odom and Wallace
2006: Dwight Howard*, Chris Bosh, Elton Brand, Brad Miller
2007: Dwight Howard*, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire
2008: Dwight Howard*, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer
The candidates: Tyson Chandler, David Lee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Kevin Love, Amar'e Stoudemire
As noted above, the four man needs to be able to play on the perimeter, so it's unlikely that you'll see two of these guys on the floor together for very long. Boozer wasn't even in the rotation in Beijing.
Stoudemire should be a lock and will be a huge pick-and-roll threat for Team USA. After that, it's going to be a case of what skills Colangelo and Krzyzewski want from their other two bigs. Chandler gives them length and shotblocking. Lee and Love give them rebounding and passing. Brook Lopez gives them a low-post game, while his brother gives them energy and defense.
Early prediction: Chandler, Lee and Stoudemire
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