Marc Stein of ESPN reported on what was to be the likely process of how USA Basketball would get down from 16 members to the 12 allowed on the roster at the FIBA World Championship. Jerry Colangelo said the final cuts could come as soon as Thursday, but as late as the last exhibition game against Puerto Rico on Friday. Team USA plays the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night in New York.
What was interesting was the players that Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski referred to as the core of their team. They were Derek Rose, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving. That five are apparently locks for the trip to Spain.
The big name on that list is point guard Kyrie Irving. Back when Team USA cut John Wall, I argued that Wall was the superior player but that Coach K was doing what he thought was comfortable for him in keeping Irving. At that point I had not considered Irving credentials against the other point guard who will likely be cut on the way to 12, Damian Lillard.
Lillard is a warrior at the point guard position, and he is more in the mold of Irving than Wall was. Matt Moore of Cbs Sports pointed out that Lillard was a better shooter than Irving and a better defender. I realize that Coach K is looking for familiarity, but at the expense of how much talent? To be fair, Lillard has not been cut yet, but that seems the logical next step.
Anyway, it seems Kyrie Irving’s place on the team is secure. Regardless of our roster, I wish the team all the luck in the world when they begin to play in Spain at the end of the month.
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