Welcome to the Sunday NBA Fix for Aug. 24, as we contemplate whether changing the approach to Team USA’s roster composition is the right idea.
After a 112-86 win over Puerto Rico Friday night, USA Basketball set its final 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup, which opens for the U.S. on Saturday when the Americans take on Finland to open Group C play.
The U.S. also has matchups with Turkey—who Team USA defeated in the 2010 FIBA World Championships (since renamed), New Zealand, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine, with the top four teams out of the group stage advancing to the Round of 16.
When one thinks of international basketball, the first thought is versatile wing players and 3-point shooting, so it was somewhat of a surprise when the final cuts included Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks, Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz.
Instead, the Americans will keep four players who are 6-foot-10 or taller—Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets.
Davis isn’t a surprise—he’s a veteran of the 2012 team that won the gold medal at the London Olympics. But this will be the first time for Drummond, Cousins and Plumlee to represent the senior national team.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told Marc Stein of ESPN.com on Saturday said that keeping Drummond—who was the 12th and final selection—gives coach Mike Krzyzewski “an opportunity to throw a new look at people.”
Davis and Kenneth Faried have been starting in the frontcourt during exhibition play and by keeping Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond, we will likely see lineups with Davis or Plumlee at the 4 next to Cousins or Drummond at the 5.
In other words, big. Big big.
“It’s true that the preferred style of play has been going small,” Colangelo said. “But you have to ask: Was that by choice or by necessity?
“Early on, we said it would be hard to carry four bigs, but that was kind of put on the shelf. Certainly there won’t be any discussion going forward about, ‘What are you going to do about bigs, what are you going to do about playing teams with size?’ If Coach wishes to show a big front line, he now has the capacity to do so.”
Spain has an imposing frontcourt with the brothers Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol along with Serge Ibaka and the teams could be on a collision course for the final, as they were in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Will going big work for the U.S.? Probably, but there will be five winnable games in pool play to work out the kinks before heading to the elimination stage.
Here are some of the things making news around the NBA this week: