While the United States squad heading to Spain for the FIBA World Cup might be missing most of the players from the 2012 Olympics, there is still plenty of talent on the roster.
Superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant passed up the opportunity to compete this summer. An injury to Paul George and other factors also kept out many of the replacements who would have been key parts of this team.
However, the team looking to defend the 2010 title is filled with some of the best players in the NBA and remains the favorite to bring home another championship. Additionally, many of those on the roster can use this opportunity to further their careers when they return to their teams after the summer.
Here is a full look at the USA roster with a breakdown of those with a lot to gain at this tournament.
|DeMarcus Cousins||Center||Sacramento Kings|
|Stephen Curry||Point Guard||Golden State Warriors|
|Anthony Davis||Power Forward||New Orleans Pelicans|
|DeMar DeRozan||Shooting Guard||Toronto Raptors|
|Andre Drummond||Center||Detroit Pistons|
|Kenneth Faried||Power Forward||Denver Nuggets|
|Rudy Gay||Forward||Sacramento Kings|
|James Harden||Shooting Guard||Houston Rockets|
|Kyrie Irving||Point Guard||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Mason Plumlee||Center||Brooklyn Nets|
|Derrick Rose||Point Guard||Chicago Bulls|
|Klay Thompson||Shooting Guard||Golden State Warriors|
After being the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Anthony Davis showed why with a huge 2013-14 season. He averaged 20.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game, although he seemed to be overlooked on a terrible New Orleans Pelicans team.
Despite this, experts believe he could continue improving to the point he is an MVP candidate next season, as Jimmy Spencer of Fox Sports noted:
Anthony Davis is my dark horse MVP pick — making me just like every other NBA writer right now.— Jimmy Spencer (@JimmySpencerNBA) August 27, 2014
His strong play has already been on display for the United States, as he was dominant in the final exhibition against Slovenia. He was arguably the best player on the floor, totaling 18 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, four blocks and zero fouls or turnovers.
He was impressive on both ends of the floor while making some highlight-reel plays:
If he can continue to put up this level of production, he will not only be seen as a good player, but also as someone who can become one of the best players in the NBA.
In three years in the league, Kyrie Irving has proven to be one of the best players at his position. Unfortunately, a lack of help around him has kept him from even reaching the postseason.
The point guard has never truly played with elite competition, something that will obviously change this year with the Cleveland Cavaliers' additions of LeBron James and Kevin Love. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders argues that this will make a big difference:
I'm also excited to see how much better Kyrie Irving looks when he has LeBron James and Kevin Love alongside him. Makes his job much easier.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 16, 2014
Although neither of these players will be on the American roster, this will be a good chance for Irving to see what it is like to be on a floor with teammates who can do a lot on their own. He can still put points on the board, but he will have to be more willing to distribute.
The good news is he has done well so far, which should earn him the starting job, according to NBA analyst Chris Sheridan:
He will certainly get a lot of minutes whether he starts or not, and this tournament could help him reach the next level of his ability.
While almost everyone on the roster is an established performer in the NBA, Mason Plumlee stands out as a relatively little-known player.
The Brooklyn Nets center was the 22nd pick in the 2013 draft and has just 22 starts in his career. While he did show a lot of potential in his first season in the league, he was fourth on his team in rebounding and seventh in scoring among players with at least 50 games played.
It seems as though the only reason for him to even be on this team is that he starred for head coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. On the other hand, the Team USA coach explains that it was not just his decision, via Bret Strelow of The Fayetteville Observer:
All the coaches and players felt like Mason would be a valuable part of this team and that he gives us insurance at the ‘4’ and ‘5’ with a big. Whether he plays a lot of minutes or none, he’s valuable because he’s smart, he talks, he has good spirit and he just fits in well with the other pieces we have on the team.
If he does get onto the floor in this tournament, Plumlee will be able to showcase his skills as a great rebounder and quality defender who knows how to finish inside when he gets the chance. He is not someone who will light up the scoreboard, but he can do the little things to help a team win.
With some strong play, Plumlee can go from an unknown to a household name among basketball fans.
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