There are 16 finalists for the U.S. men’s national basketball team that will play in the FIBA World Cup Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain. Bee columnist Ailene Voisin assesses the group that will be trimmed to 12 players later this month.
Kings, C, 6-11, 270
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USA Basketball officials are warming to his presence. Consistently strong practices and Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage enhanced his changes. The team’s lack of size also gives him an edge for one of the remaining spots.
Warriors, G, 6-3, 185
Same player, different uniform. His superb shooting was expected, but his playmaking has impressed his peers, who are getting a closer look.
Pelicans, F/C, 6-10, 220
The No. 1 talent among the big men, he defends, rebounds, runs, blocks shots and delighted Team USA officials by adding 20 pounds to his spindly frame.
Raptors, G/F, 6-7, 216
Originally a long shot, but a strong performance in Friday’s scrimmage, coupled with Paul George’s injury, enabled him to survive Tuesday’s cuts.
Pistons, C, 6-10, 270
He appeared sluggish and out of shape during training camp and the scrimmage in Las Vegas and trails Cousins and Miles Plumlee for the one (or two) spots available for bigs.
Thunder, F, 6-9, 240
This is the No. 1 guy; everything revolves around the Oklahoma City superstar. Cousins could not have chosen a better role model.
Nuggets, F, 6-8, 228
He’s coming off a supbar NBA season, but he’s looking more like his former energetic self – hustling, rebounding, running the floor, jumping out of the gym – so he’s getting a close look.
Rockets, G, 6-5, 220
His ability to create his shot, shoot with range, score in transition, etc., allows team officials to look away when his man blows past him. He’s one of the core players coach Mike Krzyzewski often references.
Jazz, F, 6-8, 220
He was more impressive with the Select Team a year ago, and given the abundance of scoring guards and wings, he’ll need to distinguish himself at the next camp in Chicago.
Cavaliers, G, 6-3, 193
He’s a Krzyzewski favorite, for obvious reasons (think Duke). He impressed during practices and scrimmages, and with John Wall cut Tuesday, it seems unlikely he’ll be cut, too.
Hawks, G/F, 6-7, 212
He’s one of the elite shooters in the world, but it might come down to whether Krzyzewski wants a specialist or a more all-around performer.
Trail Blazers, G, 6-3, 195
Is four a crowd? With Derrick Rose, Curry and Irving seemingly assured of a spot, can Lillard – an explosive, outstanding scorer – sneak in? Probably not.
Mavericks, F, 6-9, 227
He’s not a great defender, but he excels at every other facet. He shoots, makes plays, rebounds, passes, has excellent feel for the game. His versatility gives him an edge over DeRozan, though he needs to show that in upcoming scrimmages.
Nets, F, 6-11, 235
Krzyzewski started floating his name early last week and – surprise – he’s pushing Cousins for playing time. Though Cousins dominated the former Duke player in some practices, Plumlee scored 10 points against Cousins in the third quarter of Friday’s scrimmage. He is a quick, lively defender who runs and doesn’t need the ball. It wouldn’t be a shock if Cousins and Plumlee both made the final roster.
Bulls, G, 6-3, 190
From Day One of training camp, the one-time MVP was a blur from end to end. Shock waves reverberated throughout the tiny UNLV gym. Unless he experiences a physical setback, he is in the starting lineup in Spain.
Warriors, guard, 6-7. 205
USA Basketball officials like him almost as much as the Warriors. His size, defense, playmaking, shotmaking and versatility would seem to ensure that both Splash Brothers make the trip to Spain.