USA Basketball starting to take shape
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
LAS VEGAS – Already, it’s turning into a numbers game for the remaining spots on next summer’s U.S. team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
Forwards Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are in for sure, as long as they’re healthy and guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden will have spots if they want to play. And be sure, Durant will, if he hasn’t already, put pressure on both to help the U.S. defend its championship.
Given the praised directed at guard Kyrie Irving and big man Anthony Davis by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and U.S. men’s national coach Mike Krzyzewski, count on those two making the team, too.
Wing Paul George, center DeMarcus Cousins and guard Stephen Curry are strong candidates, if not givens, to make the team, and guard Damian Lillard has impressed USA Basketball staffers as has Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried with his trademark energy and activity around the basket.
That’s 11 names for a 12-man roster, and it doesn’t include players such as Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Kawhi Leonard, who are all possibilities if they show an interest in playing.
That’s why it’s best to slow down and let the process play out. Colangelo and his staff will watch closely the first three months of the NBA season, and sometime in January, possibly early February, Colangelo will announce a pool of 25-28 candidates, and from that list, approximately 15-18 will be named later in the NBA season to a roster for a camp in Las Vegas just before the World Cup. From that list, 12 will make the team.
As noted, so much can happen between now and the next two roster announcements, starting with injuries. The development of players this season will also be important, and there will be speedy, unforeseen developments in players who might just be a faint blip on USA Basketball’s radar right now.
The term “position” – guards, wings and bigs – is used broadly because in international competition, players who play a certain spot in the NBA can play another position – bigger or smaller – in the World Cup. For … [For more on USA Basketball starting to take shape for World Cup, click here.]