Despite several players declining invitations to play in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, it will be hard to find a more talented and deeper roster than the one USA Basketball will send to Spain.
USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski have built a solid enough program that it can withstand the losses of several marquee guys such as Paul George, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. George broke his leg in an intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas, while Durant, Love, Aldridge and Griffin dropped out for various reasons.
It opened the door for new faces to step into the vacuum and help the red, white and blue defend the gold medal it won in 2010 in Turkey. Here’s a look at the final 12-man roster:
Derrick Rose —The Chicago Bulls point guard played for Coach K in 2010, and he has something to prove this summer after coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons in the NBA. As long as he doesn’t suffer any setbacks from his surgically torn meniscus, Rose should be the starting point guard and one of the team leaders.
Stephen Curry — The Golden State Warriors sniper says he’ll most likely play more shooting guard than point guard, but his ability to play both guard positions makes him a valuable asset. Curry is familiar with system, having played for Coach K in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey.
James Harden — The 6-4 shooting guard can also play the small forward role against most FIBA teams, giving Coach K more options. The Houston Rockets star — who won a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics — will be looked upon to be the catalyst on offense now that his good friend Durant is no longer on the team. Harden could lead the team in scoring and show the world that he’s one of the best.
Kenneth Faried — The Manimal is one of the wild cards on the roster. He may not be your prototypical forward but what he brings to the table are effort and energy. You don’t need to draw up plays for Faried because he has a nose for the ball. He’s a terrific rebounder, runs the floor well and loves to play defense. Colangelo and Coach K rave about him in practice.
Anthony Davis — With Love and Griffin gone, the New Orleans Pelicans power forward should be the lead anchor of the U.S. frontline. The 6-10 Davis could play more center than power forward, and maybe have Durant play as the stretch 4. Davis has looked real good in camp and his experience from the 2012 Olympics will only raise his confidence.
Kyrie Irving — Coach K loves his former Duke Blue Devils, and Irving was one of his prized pupils. Irving is the ideal point guard to go against international competition. He can create offense off the dribble against man-to-man defense or bust a 3-pointer if the defense goes zone.
Klay Thompson — At 6-7, Thompson has the size to play both forward spots. The Warriors sharpshooter is the ideal FIBA forward because of his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. Thompson is also a very good one-on-one defender.
Rudy Gay — When Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George went down with a gruesome leg injury, Gay stepped up and volunteered his services. Gay was on the 2010 squad that took home the gold medal in Turkey, and he is very familiar with Coach K’s system. Gay is a natural small forward, but is capable of playing the stretch 4 against most international teams. He is also a capable defender, and could stick versatile wing players such as Spain’s Rudy Fernandez, France’s Nic Batum and Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.
DeMarcus Cousins — The way team is constructed Coach K will need a true low-post player to compress the defense, and that could mean a big role for Cousins. The Sacramento Kings center is one of only two true centers in camp and his presence could come in handy against bigger teams such as Spain, Australia, Brazil and Lithuania.
Andre Drummond — The same reason why Drummond should make the roster. An injury to Davis or Cousins leaves Team USA very vulnerable up front, so having the Detroit Pistons big man serves as insurance policy.
DeMar DeRozan — The surprise of training camp has to be DeRozan. The Toronto Raptors star has played well in practice and the exhibition games, and he’s making it very difficult for Coach K to cut him. DeRozan brings versatility and athleticism to the roster, and he can guard his position.
Mason Plumlee — No one saw this coming, not even Coach K. Plumlee started out on the practice squad then got elevated to the national squad after Aldridge, Love and Griffin dropped out. But even then Plumlee was still a longshot to make the squad. But the more he played, the more impressive he looked. And his understanding of Coach K’s system — his old coach at Duke — gives him a distinctive advantage over the other big men on the roster.