USA Basketball minicamp preview
LAS VEGAS -- Don't let back-to-back Olympic gold medals or Mike Krzyzewski's 62-1 record since being named coach in 2005 fool you: USA Basketball's days of cruising through international competitions are long gone.
Indeed, a large portion of Team USA's recent successes can be attributed to its understanding that there are no cakewalks anymore. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, pushed to improve the system after some high-profile losses (including at the 2004 Olympics), set about building a system that would attract the country's top talent and do so in a way that would allow the program to sustain itself indefinitely.
The product of that vision unfolds again this week in Las Vegas, where more than two dozen NBA and NCAA players will gather to compete in a minicamp that will give the decision-makers and coaching staff an extended look at prospects for future international competitions.
Which players are in attendance? When can they hope to represent their country? Let's break it down.
When is the USA Basketball minicamp?
The session begins on Monday. After three days of practices, the camp culminates with an intrasquad scrimmage at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
Which players will participate?
The rosters for USA Basketball's camps tend to fluctuate because of injuries, personal circumstances and scheduling conflicts during the summer. As of Monday, the roster included 28 players. All but two -- Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart -- had at least one year of NBA experience, and no 2013 draft picks were in the mix. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who turns 26 in October, was the group's oldest player; Smart, 19, was the youngest.
Here's the full roster: Ryan Anderson (Pelicans), Harrison Barnes (Warriors), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Mike Conley (Grizzlies), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Nuggets), Derrick Favors (Jazz), Paul George (Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Jazz), Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers), DeAndre Jordan (Clippers), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats), Ty Lawson (Nuggets), Damian Lillard (Blazers), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Greg Monroe (Pistons), Chandler Parsons (Rockets), Larry Sanders (Bucks), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Dion Waiters (Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Bobcats), John Wall (Wizards), Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers).
The Pelicans' Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, is the only member of the group to represent USA Basketball in the Olympics. He was a late addition to last year's team after a number of players, including Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard, were scratched with injuries. In addition, none of the 28 players invited played for USA Basketball's gold-medal-winning team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Ten players on this list were involved in USA Basketball's pre-Olympics training camp in Las Vegas last summer: Sacramento's Cousins, New Orleans' Davis and Holiday, Toronto's DeRozan, Utah's Favors and Hayward, Indiana's George, Cleveland's Irving, Golden State's Thompson and Washington's Wall.
What international events are on the horizon for USA Basketball?
USA Basketball will compete in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, a tournament previously known as the World Championship. After that, USA Basketball will head to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Who are the names to watch?
The headliners from this group -- aside from Davis -- are clearly Irving and George. Irving, 21, drew rave reviews for his play at USA camp last summer, and he backed that up with a 2013 All-Star appearance. George, another first-time All-Star in 2013, distinguished himself further on the national stage thanks to his strong two-way play during Indiana's run to the Eastern Conference finals.
How many spots on the national team will actually open up?
That's always a tough question to predict this far in advance of the events.
Looking at the rosters from the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympics, a number of younger players could be in a position to compete again in 2014. That list might include Golden State's Stephen Curry, New Orleans' Davis, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Toronto's Rudy Gay, Houston's James Harden, Minnesota's Kevin Love and Chicago's Derrick Rose. Even if some of those players opt out for injury reasons or because they've already claimed Olympic gold, a meaningful portion of the 2014 roster will almost certainly be filled by returnees.
As for 2016, you could potentially add 2012 Olympians Carmelo Anthony of New York, Andre Iguodala of Golden State, LeBron James of Miami, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Deron Williams of Brooklyn to the previous list. In other words, open spots in 2016 will likely be even harder to come by.
What's changed since the U.S. team beat Spain to win the 2012 London Olympics?
Not as much as was long expected. Most important, Krzyzewski decided to return as coach for the next four years after initially indicating that he planned to step down following the 2012 Olympics.However, members of his staff have changed. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni and Pacers assistant coach Nate McMillan (formerly head coach of the Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics) have both stepped aside. Pelicans coach Monty Williams and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau have replaced them, joining Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to fill out Krzyzewski's staff.