We’ve seen players age and players such as Kevin Love withdraw from international competition for the time being. So out of the available pool, what 12 guys should USA Basketball bring with them to the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Spain?
Rose, according to Coach K, has reportedly looked great so far in practices. If he’s healthy, he’s got to be the starting PG. Not only is he simply the best PG in the pool (remember, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are not), but Rose’s explosiveness simply can’t be handled by international guards.
Harden is a shoe-in as a starter. He’s the best SG in the world. His usage rate wouldn’t be what it is on Houston and defensively he won’t have as tough of a time. He can jut worry about scoring when he’s on the court.
Another likely lock, and likely to serve as the teams defensive stopper. He’s tall enough to guard the 1-4 at the international level. He also gives you a reliable perimeter shooter and is a terror in transition, which is where this USA basketball team is likely to kill opponents.
The second best player in this world will be the best player on this team. Nothing to see here, he’s in.
Jerry Calangelo said he wants to see Anthony Davis as the starting center. It makes a lot of sense. Davis’ defensive versatility is valuable and seeing as you’re allowed to swat balls off the rim in international play, he could become even more of a menace on defense.
Curry is also a lock, and if Rose isn’t the starting PG, it will be Curry. We all know he can shoot and run an offense. Whether it’s as a starter or as a scorer off the bench, Curry will be a key player for this team.
Probably the second most “ready” big man in the pool after Davis, Boogie Cousins should also be considered a lock at this point. He’s not the defender Davis is but he’s a better passer and scorer at this point in time.
Irving is probably a lock, and I think he’s the final natural PG the team will take, though he’s likely to see a lot of time off-ball due to his ability as a one-on-one scorer. John Wall and Damian Lillard are certainly in play, and there may be room for one of them even if they take Irving, but I just don’t think either of those guys fit what the team needs from this spot, despite the fact that they’re both better player than Kyrie.
Faried is another guy who has reportedly been wowing Coach K. He’s a hustle guy who will dominate the boards and get out on the break. Davis and Cousins are likely to eat the majority of minutes down low, but there’s a spot on this team for Faried.
My first surprise pick, as many have the team only taking the three previous bigs I’ve listed. I wouldn’t expect Drummond to play a ton. But if something happens to any of the other bigs he can be plugged in as a dominant defender. It will be unfair to throw him inside against some of the weaker and less-athletic competition.
My next surprise pick, as many would prefer Klay Thompson. I went with Beal because he is a much better defender who can guard either wing spot at this level. He gets out in transition and is almost as good of a shorter as Thompson anyways.
Final spot for team USA usually comes down to a shooter or versatile defender. Looking at the pool, it’s likely a shooter. Why not take the best shooter in the world?