Posted Jul 17 2012 9:25PM
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Men's Senior National Team is now in Manchester, England for the third stage of their pre-Olympic preparation. After seven days in Las Vegas and four in Washington D.C., the team's training schedule is more than halfway done.
Two of their five exhibition games are also in the books. Last Thursday's 113-59 win over the Dominican Republic wasn't much of a test, but Monday's 80-69 victory over Brazil was. It also gave us some clarity in regard to Mike Krzyzewski's rotation.
Specifically, we know now that Krzyzewski aims to embrace his team's lack of size. Instead of just playing Tyson Chandler or Kevin Love at center for all 40 minutes, Krzyzewski went small for more than 15 minutes on Monday. And that was against one of the biggest teams in the Olympic field.
It also seems clear that Kevin Durant will be this team's sixth man. He's also a back-up center and may possibly be the team's leading scorer.
Here's a rundown of the full 12-man roster, with combined stats from the first two exhibition games and an overview of what role each man plays.
MIN: 31:25, FG: 4-for-8, 3PT: 1-for-3, FT: 1-for-1, 10 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST, 6 STL, 0 TO
Paul's floor time was limited in Las Vegas by the thumb injury he suffered on the first day of camp. But he played 23 minutes on Monday, his shot seemed fine, and he's yet to commit a turnover. As the starting point guard, he doesn't need to shoot much.
MIN: 40:04, FG: 5-for-17, 3PT: 2-for-10, FT: 0-for-0, 12 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL, 2 TO
If you discount the fourth quarter of the 2008 gold medal game, Bryant hasn't played well offensively for this team since 2007. Of course, you can't discount that fourth quarter, because the Mamba basically saved the U.S. in the most important 10 minutes of basketball in recent memory. Still, going back to the '08 exhibition tour, Bryant has shot 24-for-79 (30.4 percent) from 3-point range in his last 14 games for the U.S. He's willing to take on tough defensive assignments, but the U.S. also needs him to make some shots.
MIN: 50:11, FG: 13-for-25, 3PT: 3-for-6, FT: 8-for-11, 37 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL, 6 TO
Despite the U.S. Team's lack of size, James is their most important player. He's a matchup nightmare for any opponent, and he was the only guy who had anything going offensively on Monday. With this team, he just needs to be even more selective with his shots, sticking mostly to transition run-outs and paint attacks.
MIN: 29:35, FG: 4-for-13, 3PT: 0-for-4, FT: 8-for-11, 16 PTS, 9 REB, 0 AST, 1 TO
Nobody's had a more Jekyll and Hyde two games than Anthony. Against the Dominican Republic, he did a great job of playing off his teammates, cutting to the basket, and finishing or getting to the line. That kind of activity wasn't there against Brazil, when he shot 1-for-7, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
MIN: 34:30, FG: 4-for-5, FT: 2-for-4, 10 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 4 STL, 1 BLK
Chandler's size is seemingly critical against teams like Spain and Brazil, but he played less than half the game on Monday, a clear sign that Krzyzewski is not afraid to play small against big opponents.
In order of playing time
MIN: 47:14, FG: 14-for-24, 3PT: 6-for-10, FT: 1-for-2, 35 PTS, 13 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO
Durant comes off the bench, but will likely continue to play the second most minutes on the team. Offensively, he's a ridiculously potent weapon as a weak-side shooter. And defenses are going to have to make some tough choices when the U.S. runs a pick-and-roll with Durant spotting up on the perimeter. Defensively, he's being asked to play some center, which is obviously something to keep an eye on.
MIN: 41:20, FG: 5-for-11, 3PT: 0-for-5, FT: 2-for-2, 12 PTS, 1 REB, 11 AST, 1 STL, 4 TO
Williams and Paul won't play as much together as they did in 2008, but they were on the floor together when Krzyzewski wanted to protect the lead late in the fourth quarter on Monday. Running the second unit with Westbrook and Iguodala on the wings, Williams may need to score more than Paul.
MIN: 36:06, FG: 8-for-10, 3PT: 4-for-6, FT: 3-for-6, 23 PTS, 8 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO
Iguodala's on this team for his defense, so his scoring is kind of a bonus. He's one of the wings who are being asked to guard big men, as he was for most of his 16 minutes on Monday. Using his quickness to get his hands on entry passes, he held his own against the Brazilian bigs.
MIN: 33:56, FG: 4-for-10, 3PT: 0-for-2, FT: 1-for-3, 10 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL, 5 TO
Except for garbage time, Westbrook is a two guard on this team. Still, he's had more turnovers than Paul and Williams combined. He's not a very good shooter, so he makes an impact by wreaking havoc defensively, both on the ball and in the passing lanes.
MIN: 24:46, FG: 4-for-8, 3PT: 1-for-4, FT: 2-for-3, 11 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK
Love is one of only two true bigs in the rotation, but he played just 5:35 against Brazil on Monday. Though he's a great rebounder, he doesn't really play big offensively. And he hasn't been shooting well from the perimeter. Still, it was surprising to see him with such a reduced role.
MIN: 20:52, FG: 3-for-10, 3PT: 1-for-6, FT: 1-for-2, 8 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO
Harden is the 11th man and will likely see some DNPs in London. He can provide better shooting than second-unit wings Iguodala and Westbrook, but he hasn't shown that yet.
MIN: 9:58, FG: 3-for-4, 3PT: 1-for-1, FT: 2-for-3, 9 PTS, 1 REB
Davis is the 12th man, and Monday's DNP seemed to indicate that he'll only see garbage-time PT, even if Chandler gets in foul trouble against a big opponent. Still, this is a great experience for a 19-year-old who has yet to play an NBA minute.
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