By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 23, 2014
The 2014 Team USA FIBA World Cup rosters have been announced, with a total of 12 players on the final roster. It certainly isn’t a flashy team by any means, but there should be enough shooting talent to get the job done. Here’s a look at five players who must step up if Team USA wants to succeed.
Rudy Gay didn’t want any guarantees about making the roster, which forced him to play to the best of his ability. Being the only true small forward on the final roster, Gay will play an important role in that aspect. However, it is his leadership skills that the team will need most from him. The fact that he won gold with Team USA in 2010 gives him an ability to speak with authority.
All eyes will be on Derrick Rose during the tournament. Many will wonder if his knee will hold up, while others will be focused on how well he plays. Rose is the star power on the team, which means he must dominate the floor consistently. He will play a vital role whenever he gets on the court. Unfortunately, how much he plays will depend on how much soreness he experiences.
Team USA has a very small lineup, which means don’t be surprised to see James Harden play small forward from time-to-time. He considers himself to be the best all-around player on the team, which will come in handy if he’s correct. More importantly, Harden is one of the vocal leaders on Team USA. The hope is that his play will speak for itself. The biggest issue for him will be if his defense will hold up in the tournament.
With Paul George, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love not on the team, it will all come down to what Anthony Davis can do around the basket. He will be given a surplus of opportunities to score. It will simply come down to him if he can execute. Since there is such a lack of significant depth in the frontcourt, one could make the case that Davis is the most important player on the team.
Point guard Stephen Curry is the heart and soul of Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. If they are going to win gold, it’s going to come down to his performance each game. Curry put up 20 points in 18 minutes in an exhibition game against Puerto Rico Friday night. Regardless of international play, that’s ridiculous. Hopefully, Curry will continue to dominate, which will be the leading factor in how far Team USA goes.
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