This past week the U.S. National Team congregated in Vegas for a mini-camp with Dwight Howard and James Harden both in attendance. Terrence Jones also made the trek as a last minute inclusion to the Friday Showcase which offered him a great opportunity to gain experience.
As the camp wound down I found myself pondering the likelihood of both Harden and Howard making the 12 man Olympic roster. To that end, this post examines the current status of the National Team, what if anything changed in Vegas, who most pundits believe will be on the 12 man roster and offer my two cents for who I would put on the team.
Since 2005 the United States has literally dominated all competition in the world of basketball. They hold a 75-1 record having lost a single time. That loss came in the 2006 semi final match versus Greece at the FIBA World Championships. The last two Olympic gold medals belong to the United States from the Beijing and London Olympics and they are the 2010 and 2014 World Cup Championship Gold Medalists. The latter means they have already qualified for the Brazil Olympics and can skip the qualifying tournaments.
The brain trust of the U.S. Men’s National team is Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) and USA Basketball Chairman: Jerry Colangelo who in truth brought the 34 players to Vegas more for consistency of message than a real training camp. They have a winning formula and they’ve learned lessons along the way, especially during the London Olympics when the final team wasn’t announced until moments before boarding the plane.
That led to players like Damian Lillard audibly voicing their displeasure for giving up their entire summer only to be cut at the last minute. A player like Lillard may end up being a vital member for the U.S. in coming years, so this time around the team will be announced prior to camp.
Asked how the 12 players will be selected Colangelo responded:
“What we want to do is protect our players, we want to cut people. We don’t want to embarrass them if they came to a camp with 18 or 20 and you have to get down to 12. So, next year what we plan to do is we will select our team after the NBA season is over and the playoffs are over and the draft. In the last few days of June in New York have a big media blitz and announce the 12 players who will showing up in camp 2 weeks later.“- Colangelo
Next: Next Steps?