When Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski were putting together their list of players for Team USA in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball they may have been listening to California Love on their Beats by Dre headphones.
OK, that’s probably way not how Coach K and Jerry C. roll. But you can’t help but notice the number of players with West Coast on the 20 players who will participate in the men’s national team’s training camp in Las Vegas.
The players invited to camp include: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks); Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks); Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
Six of the 20 players invited to camp grew up in California. DeRozan is from Compton; Harden attended high school in Artesia; George grew up in Palmdale; Korver is from Lakewood; Thompson is from Santa Margarita and his dad is former Los Angeles Lakers great Mychal Thompson; and Lillard represents Oakland.
In addition, Curry and Cousins play for NBA teams rooted in the Pacific Division. So that’s eight players, nearly half the roster, with West Coast ties. It would have been nine but Russell Westbrook — who went to Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif. — and his former UCLA teammate Kevin Love (born in Santa Monica, Calif.) both dropped out and won’t take part in the selection process.
Durant, Davis, Harden, Curry and Rose should be locks to make the 12-man roster when the squad heads for Spain. All five were either part of Coach K’s gold-medal winning team in the 2012 London Olympics or the gold-medal winning team in the 2010 FIBA World Cup (then called the World Championships).
Irving should also make the final cut because he played for Coach K at Duke (that’s a no-brainer), as well as George. Both participated in Team USA’s training camp in 2012. George’s versatility and defensive prowess makes him a valuable asset.
That leaves five spots left from a pool of 13 players.
Krzyzewski would likely take another big man and the decision will most likely come down to Cousins and Drummond. Cousins is the more polished low-post player but Drummond presents a matchup problem for any team with his size and athleticism. Love’s departure could mean both Cousins and Drummond may make the squad.
Because the FIBA 3-point line is shorter than the NBA 3-point line, you can’t have enough shooters on the team. That’s good news for guys like Thompson, Korver, Hayward and Parsons. A lot of the decision-making will hinge on how the players look and perform during camp and the exhibition games.
The World Cup of Basketball features 24 national teams and will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 14. The USA World Cup Team will play its preliminary round games in Bilbao, after being drawn into Group C along with teams from the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Turkey and Ukraine.