So far in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the United States National Team has blown through pool play just as expected. Nobody in their right mind would anticipate a USA roster full of NBA players to struggle against Ukraine, Turkey, Dominican Republic, New Zealand or Finland.
But the deeper the Americans venture into bracket play, the more they will need to rely on all 12 players to continue to contribute.
All the top countries—Spain, Greece, Slovenia—have a number of NBA players on their team, but none have a team as deep as Team USA. The Americans have four players averaging at least 11 points a game through the first four games, and their names are not Steph Curry, Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving.
And the Americans have all but two players who are averaging more than 12 minutes a game: Mason Plumlee and Andre Drummond.
Those numbers show that head coach Mike Krzyzewski trusts and believes in everyone’s ability to contribute, as he should.
Plumlee and Drummond are each playing only about seven minutes a game, but both are making them count with 3.0 and 4.7 points per game, respectively, to go with a few rebounds each.
Spain, widely believed to be USA’s biggest threat, has six players on an NBA roster, and Brazil, another contender, has four NBA players, making their rosters top-heavy.
Spain has five players scoring in double digits in the FIBA tournament through four pool games, but only one of those players, Juan Carlos Navarro, is a guard.
A vast majority of Spain’s scoring is coming near the basket with Marc and Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Brazil’s talent is also at the forward and center positions with Tiago Splitter, Nene and Anderson Varejao.
To contend with that, Team USA will need all its big boys to bring their A-game on both ends of the court.
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Faried, Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will need the likes of Plumlee and Drummond to put in quality minutes on top of having a solid game themselves.
Team USA is deepest at the guard position and should have no issues with any country it faces, but the Americans must take advantage of mismatches when its opponent’s bench players litter the floor. It will be during those minutes of rest for the other team when Team USA can stretch its lead and build momentum no matter who it has on the floor.
If the Americans can utilize all their depth, have everyone play quality minutes and show dominance near the basket, no country should even smell a victory.