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John Schuhmann

Mike Krzyzewski has a difficult decision to make when he's making the final cuts for the National Team.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

As U.S. trims roster, speed and athleticism take precedence

Posted Aug 16 2010 10:38AM

The U.S. National Team is off to Spain on Monday, ready to begin the third phase of preparation for the 2010 World Championship.

With Jeff Green and JaVale McGee being cut before Sunday's exhibition against France, the roster is down to 13 players. One more will need to be cut before the World Championship begins on Aug. 28 and while it's unclear who that cut will be, one of three guards (Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon or Russell Westbrook) will be gone. The decision is turning out to be tougher than originally expected.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski has seemingly settled on a starting lineup, however. In both Saturday's scrimmage against China and Sunday's exhibition, Krzyzewski had Rajon Rondo and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant at the forward spots and Tyson Chandler at center.

The roster has limited size, but plenty of speed and athleticism. Here's a breakdown of all 13 players remaining, along with their combined stats from Saturday's scrimmage and Sunday's exhibition game.

Chauncey Billups, G

Billups' stats:
24 minutes
19 points
4 rebounds
2 assists
1 steal
6-for-12 FG, 3-for-8 3-pt FG, 4-for-4 FT

The buzz: Billups has been the starting two guard and the veteran leader from Day 1. After laying back and trying to learn his teammates in the first week and a half, he decided late this week that it was time for him to be more aggressive. He took two shots against China, but scored 17 points in the win over France. Playing alongside a non-shooter in Rajon Rondo or Derrick Rose, his 3-point shooting will be critical to the team's success.

Tyson Chandler, C

Chandler's stats:
30 minutes
7 points
9 rebounds
3 blocks
3-for-4 FG, 1-for-2 FT

The buzz: Chandler is the only real center left on the roster, but he's put aside any questions about his health. He has looked fresh and says he hasn't felt this good since the 2008 playoffs. With this team looking to play fast and aggressive, his ability to block shots and run the floor makes him a good fit.

Stephen Curry, G

Curry's stats:
26 minutes
11 points
2 rebounds
4 assists
4 steals
1 turnover
5-for-14 FG, 1-for-5 3-pt FG

The buzz: Curry had four big threes in the intrasquad scrimmage at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, but did not shoot well over the weekend. He's not the defender that Gordon or Westbrook are, but he's a better passer than either of them. When it comes down to making the final cut, his ability to heat up from the perimeter could be tough to send home.

Kevin Durant, F

Durant's stats:
45 minutes
28 points
12 rebounds
3 assists
3 steals
2 turnovers
10-for-25 FG, 0-for-3 3-pt FG, 7-for-7 FT

The buzz: Durant was his team's leading scorer over the weekend, but his jumper wasn't falling. Almost all of his points came on the break, in the paint, or at the line. He has proven that he's not just a scorer though, and he's developed some chemistry with Andre Iguodala. Still, this team will need him to score from all angles when they get to Istanbul.

Rudy Gay, F

Gay's stats:
42 minutes
26 points
8 rebounds
1 assist
6 steals
9-for-18 FG, 2-for-4 3-pt FG, 6-for-8 FT

The buzz: Backing up Iguodala at forward, it will be a challenge for Gay to come into the game and provide the offense that the second unit will need from him. He struggled a bit against China, but was the team's leading scorer on Sunday, connecting on seven of his 12 shots.

Danny Granger, F

Granger's stats:
30 minutes
22 points
5 rebounds
1 assist
2 turnovers
9-for-15 FG, 3-for-5 3-pt FG, 1-for-2 FT

The buzz: Granger had an interesting weekend. He was the team's leading scorer on Saturday, but didn't score a point on Sunday and fouled out in 11 1/2 minutes. With his ability to play the four and shoot from the perimeter, Granger is a great fit for the international game. He injured his knee in the Las Vegas camp and his finger earlier this week, but he recovered well from both setbacks and established himself as part of the forward rotation.

Eric Gordon, G

Gordon's stats:
29 minutes
23 points
2 rebounds
1 assist
2 steals
2 turnovers
7-for-15 FG, 5-for-12 3-pt FG, 4-for-4 FT

The buzz: Gordon has seemed like the logical third cut for a while, but he has played too well for the staff to pull the trigger. He now looks to have a good shot to make the team. He knows his role and hasn't been shy when it comes to shooting from the perimeter. He's also been feisty with his on-ball defense.

Andre Iguodala, F

Iguodala's stats:
39 minutes
10 points
8 rebounds
3 assists
6 steals
3 turnovers
5-for-9 FG, 0-for-2 3-pt FG

The buzz: Iguodala is the starting small forward and has excelled in a complementary role thus far. He will be a defensive stopper, provide plenty of highlights on the break, and fill the boxscore with whatever's needed. At some point, though, he's going to be asked to stick a big shot or two from the perimeter.

Kevin Love, F-C

Love's stats:
13 minutes
2 points
1 rebound
2 assists
2 steals
1 turnover
0-for-1 FG, 2-for-2 FT

The buzz: There are two reasons for Love's limited minutes this weekend. First, he bruised his calf in Thursday's intrasquad scrimmage and was not yet 100 percent. Second, the four-forward rotation means that he's limited to being the third center on the roster (also known as the Carlos Boozer role) and will probably only be used in emergencies.

Lamar Odom, C

Odom's stats:
32 minutes
9 points
8 rebounds
2 assists
2 steals
2 turnovers
4-for-5 FG, 0-for-1 3-pt FG, 1-for-2 FT

The buzz: Odom is one of the veteran leaders on this team, but his play has been inconsistent -- he's almost invisible on some days and makes a big impact on others. Sunday was one of his good days, with all eight of his points coming on put-backs. He'll play almost all of his minutes at center as part of a platoon with Chandler.

Rajon Rondo, G

Rondo's stats:
30 minutes
6 points
5 rebounds
13 assists
3 steals
5 turnovers
3-for-5 FG, 0-for-1 3-pt FG

The buzz: The starting point guard, Rondo seems happy to accept the Jason Kidd role: dishing out plenty of assists without taking many shots. He needs to be a little more conservative with his passing, but he's starting because of his defense. He will wreak havoc for opposing ball handlers with his tenacious defense.

Derrick Rose, G

Rose's stats:
36 minutes
14 points
3 rebounds
5 assists
3 steals
4 turnovers
5-for-12 FG, 2-for-4 3-pt FG, 2-for-4 FT

The buzz: If defenses have a tough time keeping up with Rondo, it won't be any easier with Rose. He's got the quickness and size to get into the paint and get open looks for his teammates on the perimeter. Defensively, he's been a pleasant surprise, willing to work hard at defending the ball.

Russell Westbrook, G

Westbrook's stats:
22 minutes
7 points
7 rebounds
3 assists
1 steal
1 turnover
3-for-7 FG, 0-for-1 3-pt FG, 1-for-2 FT

The buzz: Westbrook was the last player to get into Sunday's game against France. He gives the U.S. the defensive aggressiveness they want and is lightning quick, but he's the worst shooter of the guards left on the roster and he can get a little out of control with the ball. If he makes the roster, it will be as the fourth point guard and 11th or 12th man.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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