After USA’s second exhibition game in Spain vs. the hosts on Sunday, where the Americans hung on for an 86-85 win, things started to look clearer – well at least for point guard Rajon Rondo. After having a miserable game the day before against Lithuania ( 2 points, 1 assist and 4 turnovers), Rondo was DNP – CD (did not play – coach’s decision) against the Spaniards, leading him to feel that he was not going to make the final cut and was on the “bubble”. Eventually, that led to Rondo withdrawing from the team, and according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, due to “some family matters to attend to”.
This leaves Team USA with a complete roster of 12 players, mostly inexperienced players with only 2 NBA champions (Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups) and one with major international competition experience (Odom in the ’04 Olympics) and 5 players who are of 21 years old (Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook). Despite the lack of experience on this team, Team USA has shown that it can take down any team in its friendlies by blowing teams away (Lithuania) and win games in the closing seconds (Spain).
As seen in the latest exhibitions, the Americans are able to play an uptempo style of game and have legitimate threats offensively in almost every way possible, with their go-to guy being reigning NBA scoring champion Durant. Kevin Durant knocked down 27 points in the latest game vs Spain, driving to the hoop numerously and scoring 3s. Also, Rudy Gay and Danny Granger proved to be offensive weapons off the bench that can break a game wide open when necessary in addition to Stephen Curry, the only pure shooter on this team. Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups will be expecting to start in the backcourt, and showed great play as they put their team up early by double digits against Spain. They are expected to be backed by Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry, with Eric Gordon also snatching some minutes as well. Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, and Andre Igoudala will be playing in the frontcourt, with Odom expecting to start as center along Igoudala as power forward.
There are high expectations for Team USA. Can they win it all for the first time since 1994?
TEAM USA ROSTER:
* = Expected Starting Lineup