Breaking Down Full List of USA Basketball 2013 Las Vegas Minicamp Invites
On Wednesday, the United States' men's national basketball team announced through their official website that 27 players will attend the squad's minicamp in Las Vegas this summer.
It is a talented crop headlined by the past three No. 1 overall picks—in descending order, point guards John Wall and Kyrie Irving, and most recently, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis.
As stacked as the NBA is with point guards, it will be interesting to see how that position plays out and whether some of the perceived combo guards flex to the 2 position. What's certain is that head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his loaded staff have plenty of depth to choose from.
Let's take a look at the complete list of invitees for the minicamp, which will run from July 22 to 25 and then end with an intrasquad exhibition game. The focus of the analysis will be on players who are likely to stand out the most in this brief showcase.
Ryan Anderson, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
The biggest positive that Anderson brings to the table is his ability to stretch the floor from the 4 position. Anderson is a three-point sharpshooter, and in his first full 82-game season in 2012-13, he put up 16.2 points and made 38 percent of his nearly seven attempts per game from beyond the arc.
New Orleans was a solid defensive team, but that's not Anderson's strength. He may be on the outside looking in as a prospective Team USA player. He will need to shoot the lights out to impress at this camp.
Harrison Barnes, SF, Golden State Warriors
After not quite living up to the hype in his brief college career, Barnes blossomed into a solid contributor on an upstart Warriors squad that pushed the San Antonio Spurs hard in the Western Conference Semifinals.
There is still plenty of upside for Barnes to explore, but it's clear that he doesn't shy away from the spotlight. He has a chance to be a force in Las Vegas.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards
The past two seasons of Beal's promising career have mirrored each other. As a freshman at Florida, he struggled shooting initially, then heated up as his only year in Gainesville progressed.
That trend held true in the NBA, too. Beal became a different player in the second half of the season, which was helped even more by the return of dynamic backcourt teammate John Wall.
Beal can shoot as well as anyone and could easily start as a 2-guard for the 2016 Olympic team if he continues progressing at this rate.
The minicamp should be a breeze for Beal. Workouts have never been an issue for him, and he simply possesses everything a coach could hope for in a shooting guard. It wouldn't be a shock if he were the best 2-guard on the court even at such a young age.
Mike Conley Jr., PG, Memphis Grizzlies
There might not be a more underrated point guard in the Association than Conley, who has quietly plodded along in Memphis and carved out an extremely respectable six-year career to date.
Conley is the most experienced of all players who were invited to minicamp, but it's hard to figure out where he would fit in with Wall and Irving as probable superior options at his position. He should ultimately make the team and be the veteran mentor.
The quickness Conley has off the dribble and his outstanding lateral movement should help him be a camp standout.
The Grizzlies were a defensive-minded squad under Lionel Hollins, and Conley vastly improved in that area. His less experienced point guard rivals in minicamp will encounter adversity when Conley is matched up with them.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings
Inconsistency has plagued Cousins as a pro, but when he's on, he's borderline unstoppable. Cousins has the potential to be the best center in the league, and he capped off his third NBA campaign with a 36-point, 22-rebound performance against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Under the tutelage of someone like Krzyzewski, perhaps Cousins can find a way to become more of a surefire commodity than a polarizing, temperamental enigma.
Cousins is strong with the ball and the most offensively versatile center attending this camp. There's no reason to think he can't dominate, as long as his mind is set to it.
What may inhibit his ability to succeed is the fact that it's the offseason and the camp doesn't necessarily mean a lot. Coaches are simply beginning to evaluate the future of Team USA.
Still, this is a great chance for Cousins to prove himself as a focused player, keen on reaching his high ceiling sooner rather than later.
Anthony Davis, PF, New Orleans Pelicans
The sky seems to be the limit for Davis as long as he can stay healthy. He has the ball-handling and passing ability of a guard and the length to be a defensive force.
Davis is also the only member of the 2012 USA summer squad that won a gold medal in the London Games. That experience should benefit Davis in this climate, given that he has played with and practiced with the best. No one should be able to score on him with any kind of regularity.
DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors
As a 6'7" shooting guard, DeRozan brings magnificent size for a player at his position. He even has the versatility to play the 3 if Team USA wants to go with a smaller lineup.
DeRozan may only be 23 years old, but he already has four NBA seasons under his belt and continues to get better. The most noticeable improvement is in his jump shot. Should that progress at a reasonable rate and his defensive intensity increase, he should find himself a spot on this team.
Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons
There is so much to like about Drummond, even if he can't make a free throw four out of 10 times at the moment.
The Pistons center figures to be a fixture in the frontcourt for years to come, but even more than Cousins, he's still very raw at this stage in his career. That makes the battle at the center position extremely intriguing.
Kenneth Faried, SF, Denver Nuggets
The combination of size and athleticism Faried has puts him among the most physically imposing players on the planet—and he still has a ton of room to develop.
He's a bit of a so-called "tweener," though, and with so many other talented power forwards and versatile perimeter players, Faried may be one of the odd men out as the process of choosing the squad progresses. That won't prevent him from having a couple of "Wow!" plays in Vegas, though.
Derrick Favors, PF, Utah Jazz
Entering his third season, Favors is still challenged on the offensive end, particularly with regard to his jump shot, which desperately needs work.
Favors does possess uncommon athletic ability for a player at his position and will be among the more exciting players to watch at minicamp. When the scrimmage rolls around, it may be Favors' time to shine in the open floor.
Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers
The playoffs raised George's profile, to say the least. He was the driving force in many ways on both ends of the floor in helping the Pacers push the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
George hasn't come close to hitting his ceiling, and as he matures and gains experience, he should become a perennial All-Star and a staple for Team USA over the next decade.
Entering minicamp even after this recent postseason run says a lot about George and how he's apparently dedicated to bettering himself.
There wasn't a go-to scorer for Indiana, and George was forced into the role at times this year. He'll be surrounded with dynamic offensive players in minicamp for the U.S., so he should be freed up for better looks and emerge as a clear top performer.
Taj Gibson, PF, Chicago Bulls
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is one of the assistants on the Team USA staff, which has to be at least somewhat of a reason why Gibson was invited to Las Vegas.
Gibson isn't flashy, but he's a hardworking role player with a high basketball IQ and an understanding of what to do on the defensive end of the floor. He's a bit of a dark horse to truly impact this squad long-term, but it's feasible due to his defensive presence.
Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah Jazz
Hayward rode his status as a star for the Cinderella Butler Bulldogs into the lottery as a high draft pick back in 2010.
Hayward took a significant step forward this past season, averaging 14.1 points, three rebounds and three assists while shooting better than 40 percent from three-point land. The only problem is, he's a poor man's version of Chandler Parsons, and that should be evident in minicamp.
Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers
Holiday is an All-Star, but he might be the least dynamic point guard invited to minicamp. It will nevertheless be interesting to see how he stacks up with the counterparts at his position.
It's only a few days capped off by a scrimmage, but Holiday has a chance to prove himself as a player in the class of his fellow point guards.
Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
There might not be a point guard in the league with a better all-around offensive skill set than Irving, other than Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.
Similar to Curry, Irving has phenomenal shooting range and drains threes with regularity, but he also has the ball-handling skills and craftiness to finish effectively around the rim. It's almost as though Irving is ambidextrous, too; he's just as good with his left hand as he is with his dominant right.
Unfortunately, Irving struggles with injuries—a parallel to Curry that is unwelcome. Irving can't control his health, but he must keep his body as right as possible to try to stay on the court.
It's truly incredible what Irving has done on a bad Cavs team, and it would be exciting to see what he could do playing alongside multiple star players on an international stage.
DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers
Jordan plays wonderful defense and flashes the ability to be a game-changing paint enforcer. He was a big reason the Clippers finished fourth in the regular season in points per game allowed.
However, he's an unpolished product on offense, which could lead him to be one of the last cuts when the final team is decided—especially with the upside of some of his peers and the defensive superiority of Larry Sanders.
Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets
Lawson is electric. He would be a wonderful asset for Team USA coming off the bench and running the second unit. Again, though, point guard is such a deep position that Lawson would have to either improve exponentially or do something to distinguish himself from his more talented peers.
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs
Before this postseason, it wouldn't seem Leonard would be a strong candidate to ultimately make Team USA.
However, with the job he's doing on defense in the NBA Finals on LeBron James, his rebounding ability and offensive efficiency, he's certainly gaining traction. Leonard may be a Spurs franchise cornerstone when Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are done.
Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers
It was impressive for Lillard just to be drafted No. 6 overall this past year coming from a small school like Weber State, but it turned out to be a great move by the Portland brass.
Lillard was the unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year and averaged 19 points to go with 6.5 assists. However, he seems like a slightly inferior version of Kyrie Irving, and he's not likely to supplant John Wall down the road.
Greg Monroe, PF, Detroit Pistons
The Georgetown product should form a wonderful frontcourt tandem with Drummond in Detroit for the future. His prospects for Team USA aren't quite as promising as his future in his current pro city.
Monroe, though, is a solid passer, an improving shooter and a physical presence on both ends of the hardwood. Look for him to be among the relatively surprising standouts, but for Anthony Davis to outshine him.
Chandler Parsons, SF/PF, Houston Rockets
It's hard to think of a better bargain in the NBA right now than Parsons. His salary hovers below $1 million, yet he continues to more than justify GM Daryl Morey's investment in him as a second-round pick.
Parsons has exceeded all expectations—other than perhaps those of the Rockets' front office—and is a legitimate starter in the pros. An all-around solid offensive game and superior effort on the perimeter and in the post on the other end should allow him to shine in Vegas.
Larry Sanders, C, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks would have had a much harder time on defense without the services of Sanders, who blocked 2.8 shots per game and made significant strides offensively in 2012-13.
A lot of the players he will encounter at his position in minicamp are offensively challenged and defensively uneven, which could lead to him having a truly standout performance. Having said that, it will be difficult for him to have an impact if the special point guards are all able to get into the lane.
Klay Thompson, SG, Golden State Warriors
Other than perhaps his electrifying teammate Curry, there may not be a better shooter in the Association than Thompson.
What is most impressive about him, though, is how he's turned it up in terms of on-ball defense, as well as how he can get to the rim effectively, making his jump shot all the more lethal.
Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
There is a ton of talent waiting to break out from Waiters, who flashed brilliance with the Cavaliers as a rookie but hasn't quite lived up to his billing as a top-five pick just yet.
Waiters thrives in one-on-one situations, but he also works well off the ball. If he sees the court with Kyrie Irving, it's possible that he could shock onlookers.
Kemba Walker, PG, Charlotte Bobcats
It's hard to get a gauge of just how good Walker is because of the putrid teams he played on in Charlotte to begin his NBA career.
This very brief showcase will be a better indication of Walker's progress. Walker thrives with the ball in his hands and when he's given free reign to create for his teammates. With a better supporting cast around him, Walker will be a player to keep an eye on.
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
If his jumper ever falls on a more consistent basis, there's no telling how ridiculous Wall could be. Until that happens, though, he will still amaze in the open court and put his teammates in ideal position to score.
Wall was hurt for a good chunk of the past season with a knee injury, so taking on this elite competition in the offseason will be a nice tuneup for him to see where he is as his promising career continues to unfold.
Tyler Zeller, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
What Zeller truly lacks is size, and he might be better suited in this environment to be plugged in as a 4 since he has good range and more of a finesse game.
The bigger centers at this camp will manhandle him in the post, and it's unlikely that Zeller will make his true mark in this short-term gathering of prominent NBA youngsters.
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