Team USA Basketball has competed in two pre-World Cup games against Brazil and the Dominican Republic. There have been a plethora of events and practices for Team USA, but coach Mike Krzyzewski has been very consistent in stating that he is still evaluating the guys. I have a feeling he already knows who will make the squad. Only 12 guys will travel to Spain out of this extremely talented bunch of athletes. Here are the most likely players to fill the roster after the final cuts are made.
The decision at point-guard is the easiest for Coach K to make. The starter will be Derrick Rose, for he’s been superb in his return to competitive action. He will be followed by Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving. Team USA will have the most dangerous players at the point throughout the tournament.
The other straightforward position is a the two spot on the roster. James Harden will undoubtedly be the starter, as he has been the outspoken leader of this squad from the start. Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan will represent the backups for Harden at the shooting-guard position. These guys are solid all-around players who give Coach K much-needed flexibility.
The small-forward position is a lot more fluid than the one or two spots on the roster. Rudy Gay is absolutely a lock, as he brings great size and scoring consistency. He will be followed by Kyle Korver who will provide immediate firepower off the bench from behind the arc. Harden could see time at SF, and Gay could even see time at PF as a stretch four guy; there are so many options here for Coach K.
At power-forward, we will see Anthony Davis getting the start and Kenneth Faried will be following closely behind. Both of these guys have stepped up their play and show a great deal of hustle and passion, but Davis has held more of a leader presence on the team which gives him more of an edge to start in Spain.
Finally at the anchor spot, DeMarcus Cousins will be filling the first slot. He will be backed up by Andre Drummond, and they will split time very evenly throughout the FIBA World Cup. This duo, along with the other big men Davis and Faried, will be much needed to take down the bigs of Spain Marc and Pau Gasol.
The following guys will not make the trip to Spain: Gordon Hayward, Mason Plumlee and Chandler Parsons. These guys are very good, but they are up against the greatest stars of the NBA. Hayward and Plumlee have much maturing to do and will have their chance again in the future. As for Parsons, he’s simply too inconsistent offensively and doesn’t make up for it defensively. All of these guys will benefit from their time playing with the world’s best athletes and it will enhance their game going forward.
Team USA Basketball should be very exited heading into the tournament. They may not have LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin, but they have a very solid group of guys who have the hunger. Coach K’s squad is driven, determined and full of spirit. They will go all the way in Spain and show the world that USA Basketball still reigns high.