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The swingmen competing for a roster spot on the final version of Team USA got noticeably thinner when Paul George went down with a brutal leg injury that will knock him out for the entire 2014-15 season. However, there's still plenty of talent.
Chandler Parsons became a lock without George, and essentially, Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Korver are competing for three spots, leaving one quality player set to receive the axe. Before the competition, I'd have assured you that was Korver, as his biggest skill didn't matter that much on a roster filled with elite outside shooters.
However, that hasn't seemed accurate thus far.
Per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Mike Krzyzewski said the following about the Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter: "He had a really good week," also revealing that he valued the veteran leadership Korver brought to the table.
It's looking unlikely Korver gets cut, and the same can be said about Klay Thompson. His shooting and willingness to lock down defensively are just too valuable to this team, especially with that shortened three-point arc used in FIBA play. Plus, he has established chemistry with Curry.
So, it's Hayward vs. DeRozan, as NBA.com's Jon Schuhmann suggested on Twitter.
"A strong showing in Friday's intrasquad scrimmage, combined with George's unfortunate absence, has put DeRaptor in legit contention for a roster spot when he was widely presumed to be one of the first cuts," explain Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.
Hayward hasn't received reviews that are quite as positive, and the general feeling seems to involve him developing under Quin Snyder and making teams in the future, not the present. His inefficient shooting and lack of defensive chops just don't measure up against DeRozan at this stage of their respective careers.
Plus, DeRozan is only giving up an inch to his positional counterpart, and his athleticism helps make up for the vertical difference. Both can capably play either wing spot, which cancels out one of the advantages that Hayward would typically possess.