Re-examining Team USA's roster options

Re-examining Team USA's roster options
August 2, 2014, 11:00 am
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After Friday's scrimmage concluded, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said there would not be any immediate roster decisions. The team's focus appropriately centered on Paul George's well-being following a serious leg injury in the fourth quarter. For now, 19 players are in the mix for 12 spots, including John Wall, Bradley Beal and Derrick Rose.

The final roster decisions will be made before the team travels to Spain later this month for the World Cup of Basketball. Colangelo previous stated as many as 15 players may remain with the team through the training camp stop in New York (Aug. 18-22). For now, here's a final roster projection.

Power forward - Kevin Durant (lock), Kenneth Faried, Mason Plumlee

Small forward - Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver

Center - Anthony Davis (lock), DeMarcus Cousins

Wing guard - Stephen Curry (lock), James Harden (lock), Klay Thompson

Point guard - Derrick Rose (lock), Kyrie Irving

  • The other seven players are John Wall, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward and DeMar DeRozan. 
  • Though Parsons (or Korver) would start in this scenario, Durant could easily open at the three with Faried at power forward or a Davis/Cousins tandem inside.
  • Parsons and Plumlee get the final two spots over Lillard, Wall, Beal, DeRozan, and Drummond, though truly any of remaining options would make for justifiable selections. Credit Parsons' positional versatility, stretch-4 capability and perimeter shooting for his roster spot post George's injury. 
  •  The 6-foot-10 Plumlee demonstrated speed and agility during the second half of the scrimmage. That's the type of player desired for Team USA's up-tempo design.  Plumlee's skills might be something of overlap with the active Faried. Without the Brooklyn Nets' forward, Team USA would have only three bigs and that includes the 6-foot-6 Faried. The ex-Dukie would also be something of a hedge against Cousins losing his mind. All that trumps keeping Lillard or Wall as a de facto fourth point guard, especially with so much frontcourt uncertainty. That said, the other players are far more accomplished NBA players than Plumlee. Based on pure talent, someone else gets his spot.
  • Going with Drummond would be a nod toward defending Spain's Marc Gasol in a possible gold medal matchup. Going with the Drummond over the offensively-superior Cousins, who had a double-double on Friday, would likely eliminate Faried or Plumlee on the roster for a scoring threat. That could mean Lillard, Wall or Beal makes the cut. 
  • As for Thompson, he shot better than 40 percent on 3-point attempts last season, as did Beal. The Golden State star does in 6-foot-7 frame. Without George, the small forward role will be bullpen-by-committee and Thompson's size puts him in that group. Same for Korver, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting last season. 
  • In light of George's injury, the question of Rose's situation on the roster will become a topic. The former league MVP missed most of the past two seasons with a knee injury, but looked explosive early in the scrimmage. Should Rose stay on the squad, Team USA could keep three point guards in addition to Curry in order to limit Rose's minutes.

Team USA opens up World Cup play on August 30 against Finland.

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