Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has been invited to the USA Basketball national team camp in Las Vegas, league source tells Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 5, 2013
Jordan's invitation signifies a couple of things about Team USA, the first of which is a dearth of quality big men. Don't be mistaken; Jordan is merely invited (along with a couple dozen other players) to participate in the camp. He's probably not in line to actually make the national team.
But what's interesting is just how close a guy like Jordan—who averaged just 8.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last year—is to being a viable option.
Think about it: The last iteration of Team USA went into battle with Tyson Chandler as the only legitimate center on the roster. Beyond him, it was a heavy dose of small ball and a smattering of then-rookie Anthony Davis at the 5.
There are certainly a few bigs who didn't participate in the most recent Olympics who could step in rather easily ahead of Jordan—Roy Hibbert, Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez and even Chris Bosh come to mind. But it's always difficult to know when injury or apathy will prevent one of the league's better centers from wanting to participate.
Aside from a lack of big men, Jordan's inclusion also shows that Team USA is interested in getting as much pure talent in the fold as possible. From there, perhaps Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo is confident that the coaching staff will be able to mold players into what the club needs.
Jordan is a raw athlete who showed brief flashes of developing a post game last season. In an international game where skill and versatility at every position counts for more than sheer size and hops, Jordan's tools don't translate particularly well. That contributes to the theory that Team USA is comfortable with taking on "projects."
Either that, or Team USA has become aware that dunks will be worth four points in international competition and the organization is way ahead of the curve.
Still, Jordan is hardly the most interesting player to get an invite to the party.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported that Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins—who has significantly outproduced and severely out-crazied Jordan over the past couple of years—is also scheduled to be in Las Vegas to work out with the team this summer. Pairing Cousins and Vegas could lead to yet another installment of The Hangover series that nobody wants to see, so if Jordan merely disappoints with his limited skills, he won't be the biggest bust among the fringe invites.
Other notable players who'll also be testing the waters in Team USA's camp include a trio of Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer. Plus, Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will be in attendance, according to CSN Bay Area's Nate Stuhlbarg.
Both Irving and Thompson have been in camp before.
Credit Team USA for taking chances on some young, talented players. If nothing else, the experience of the camp will be helpful in exposing some of the newbies to the work habits of the American elite. And who knows; maybe the national team actually sees something in Jordan.
Although, something tells me that the team made its decision based largely on two key seconds of basketball that took place in the second quarter of a March 10 game against the Detroit Pistons.
Fortunately for Brandon Knight, he hasn't yet been invited to Team USA's summer camp.