Monday, July 19, 2010

USA Basketball's 2010 Camp Invitees

USA Basketball has invited the following twenty-one players to try out for this summer's national team, which will represent the United States at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey from August 28th - September 12th:

Guards
Chauncey Billups
Stephen Curry
Tyreke Evans
Eric Gordon
O.J. Mayo
Rajon Rondo
Derrick Rose
Russell Westbrook

Forwards
Andre Iguodala
Kevin Durant
Jeff Green
Rudy Gay
Danny Granger
Kevin Love
Amare Stoudemire
Lamar Odom
Gerald Wallace

Centers
David Lee
Tyson Chandler
Brook Lopez
Robin Lopez

It bothers me that none of the players from the 2008 Olympic team are coming back this summer, and it bothers me further that this team has some of the glaring weaknesses that haunted the United States in international competition from the 2000 Olympics to the 2008 "redeem team" Olympics, namely one-dimensional big men, and over-abundance of shooting guards and small forwards at the expense of other positions, and inconsistent perimeter shooters whose NBA games largely consist of driving and drawing fouls. The international game has a greater emphasis on shooting than the NBA, as well as fewer fewer whistles and, therefore, fewer free throws. Westbrook, Rose and Rondo are all outstanding players, but none of them is an accomplished shooter, and they can only find minutes for so many athletic, dribble-heavy point guards. They will excel in the open court, and that's great if Coach K wants his team to run, but I can easily see them struggling in the half-court with a lineup of, for instance, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Danny Granger, Rondo and Gordon.

I would start Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and David Lee, with Curry as my offense off the bench, Mayo as a "D and 3's" type in the Bowen/Raja Bell mold, and Amare and Lopez off the bench if the team wants to run a little bit more. I may start Lopez or Chandler if we play a team, like, for instance Spain, which has legitimately 7-footers in its own right, otherwise I think that small and up-tempo is the way to go with this group.

But mainly, I am disappointed that more of the United States' best players are not competing. Our major problem from 1996 until 2006 was that we took winning for granted, and too few of our truly elite players wanted to play. I understand that, this summer, a significant number of our elite players are either injured or are changing teams and have a lot of off-the-court business to take care or, but I would feel much better with the steadying influence of Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, and Carmello Anthony.

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