Team USA 2

USA Basketball: 2014 FIBA World Cup Forecast

Last summer, Team USA recently wrapped up their summer mini-camp highlighted by the USA Basketball Showcase. This was the first of a series of offseason steps building up to the 2016 Olympics. Featuring exclusively young, up-and-coming players this gave us an idea of who might be a candidate for the upcoming 2014 FIBA World Cup this year.

 

The FIBAS World Cup (formerly called the Tournament of the Americas) has historically been a ‘B-Team’ event, where the few players who do stand out might earn a chance to play with the ‘A-Team’ at the Olympics. Not anymore. Behind the new regime of General Manager Jerry Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski, and the heavy commitment of the NBA’s top stars, USA Basketball has been revitalized to the point of where players are genuinely honored to be a part of the program and represent their country.

 

Before we get going, let’s preface by saying there are 4 players from the 2012 Olympics that currently to do not intend on playing this event. Should they choose to play however, would be guaranteed a spot: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams. Obviously if any of these four decide to play, that would change the roster below.

 

So let’s take a look at the roster shape up for the upcoming FIBA World Cup (Player, POS, Age at time of event):

 

Starters:

Kyrie Irving, PG

There are a lot of things going in Irving’s favor right now: Coach K loves him (and is relishing the chance to get to actually coach him), he dominated a number of other guards in the recent mini-camp posting a game-high 23 points along with 7 assists, Coach K has all but alluded to Irving being on the team, and had there not been a shortage of big men in 2012, Irving might have been on that team as opposed to  Anthony Davis.

Chance he’s on team: Lock

Chance he starts: 90%

 

James Harden, SG

While Harden hasn’t officially committed to the event yet, it’s highly likely he does. Kevin Durant nearly admitted as much when he dropped his commitment. Harden’s pick and roll game is perfect for international play. Teams load up the paint against the Americans in international to help compete against their athleticism which leaves open shooters and Harden’s passing ability makes him special.

Chance he’s on the team: Lock

Chance he starts: 90%

Kevin Durant, SF

When Durant showed up at the Team USA mini-camp and announced his commitment to the World Cup, Team USA got their Alpha-dog. This will be a big event for Durant. The last time he played in the World Cup was in 2010. Durant became a ‘go-to-guy’ that summer and his play for the Thunder the following season took a giant leap. Fresh off his first MVP, expect another leap forward as Durant will be able to be ‘the guy’ with LeBron and other veterans skipping out.

Chance he’s on the team: Lock

Chance he starts: 100%

 

Kevin Love, PF

Love dropped his commitment at the same time as Durant and there couldn’t be a player better suited for international ball. A skilled big man that can shoot the three and gobble boards is exactly what you need. As the 2012 Olympics progressed, Love played more and more. Love spent most of the 2012 season injured. While he seems fully healthy now and despite his constant trade rumors– injury is the only thing that could derail K-Love.

Chance he’s on the team: Lock

Chance he starts: 100%

 

Anthony Davis, C

Along with Irving, Davis comes in as the only youngster all but assured a spot on the team. From his selection to the Olympic team in 2012, to his 22 points and 7 rebounds at the USA Showcase, to his potential to take advantage of International Goaltending rules, Davis will be a defensive ace for the team. Davis should start alongside Durant, and Love on the frontline, however if the Americans start small, Davis could become first big off bench – may result in matchups.

Chance he’s on the team: Lock

Chance he starts: 60%

 

Bench

Russell Westbrook, G

Though Westbrook is coming off three minor knee surgeries, he should be just fine for next season, and has been an ultimate iron man over his career having not missed a single game prior. Westbrook’s athleticism stands out in the NBA. It jumps out of the gym in international play. With Irving, and other point guards available, RW becomes more of just a playmaker from either spot. It’s amazing how much better defensive focus he has in international play as well. He could start in a small lineup, but probably catalyst off the bench.

Chance he’s on the team: Lock

Chance he starts: 50%

 

Steph Curry, G

Though not at the Team USA mini-camp, the sweet shooting Curry should find his way onto the roster assuming he wants to play. Curry will be able to play on or off the ball, but will really be here for his much needed floor spacing. Having a designated ‘shooter’ has almost become a staple for Team USA. Obviously Curry is capable of more, but most are in this setting.

Chance he’s on the team: 80%

 

Derrick Rose, G

It was 4 years ago Derrick was on the 2010 Team USA roster and actually started several games for the team while in Turkey. It’s been an up and down road since: an MVP, a devastating torn ACL, a successful recovery, torn meniscus. Derrick claims he’s 100% and we’ll take him for his word. With the Chicago Bulls in the middle of the NBA arms race, this could be a huge opportunity for Derrick to prove to the world and himself, that he’s back.

Chance he’s on team: 65%

 

Paul George, G/F

George is one of the budding stars in the NBA, and his defensive calling card will be what earns his ticket on the team. George is a favorite of coaches, performed well at the Team USA mini-camp, and continued his progress last season. Consider a defensive trio of Westbrook, George, and Durant. Good luck trying to get past that length.

Chance he’s on the team: 75%

 

Kawhi Leonard, F

Fresh off his first championship and Finals MVP, Leonard comes in with as much momentum as any player. Kawhi’s comfort playing off the ball and knack for producing on the fly makes him a natural fit alongside so many stars. Position flexibility is also a plus. His ability to guard 1-4 gives Krzyzewski a versatile weapon off the bench.

Chance he’s on the team: 65%

 

Blake Griffin, F

Unfortunately for Blake, he was unable to compete in the 2012 Olympics due to injury, while simultaneously opening the door for Davis. Griffin is coming off a banner year, in which he improved his all around game helping lead the Clippers to a top 4 seed in the vaunted West. Considering Blake would have made the Olympic team in 2012, it’s safe to assume should he want to, he will be on the flight to Spain.

Chance he’s on team: 85%

 

LaMarcus Aldridge, F

The last spot on the roster is far from settled, but we’ll give Aldridge the spot for now. With no veteran Centers (Tyson chandler, Dwight Howard) and inexperienced young ones (DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond) Team USA will go without a ‘true’ Center on the roster. Aldridge gives the team four versatile power forwards, plus Durant to mix amongst the bigs. Aldridge experienced a career year last season with Portland, and his deft pick and pop ability is a unique asset.

Chance he’s on the team: 55%

 

Dark Horses

Damien Lillard, G

Should Derrick Rose and or Russell Westbrook decide to focus on maintaining their health building towards the 2014 season, Lillard would be next up as a fine replacement.

 

Bradley Beal, G

Klah Thompson, G

Should an additional shooter be needed, this will be a tough choice between Beal and Thompson. We give the edge to Beal for his defensive abilities and overall playmaking skills beyond shooting.

 

Jabari Parker, F

First, there is the Duke connection. Second, with Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, and Joel Embiid all from other countries, Parker is going to be a major piece of the Team USA puzzle down the road.

 

Andre Drummond, C

DeMarcus Cousins, C

The two young centers on the training camp roster have an opportunity with no veteran Centers expected to play. Drummond is still extremely young and Cousins has had multiple on court issues. Should either one stand out at camp, the possibility is there for them to sneak onto the final roster.




There are no comments

Add yours