Team USA Basketball: Five Local Stars on Team


Team USA Mens Basketball is in its Vegas mini-camp this week. The national team is preparing to go for the gold in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janero, Brazil. So who was invited to this collection of greats? One Tar Heel, two Blue Devils, one Demon Deacon, and one Davidson Wildcat amongst the thirty four players invited. Then there is John Wall, who is from Raleigh but played his basketball at Kentucky.

The names will probably not surprise you. They are Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Mason Plumlee, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. Of that list Barnes and Plumlee are the odd inclusions, but we’ll get to that.
Curry is the current reigning MVP and reigning NBA champ. He is also in the prime of his career so his inclusion is a no brainer. The criticism of the USA team for years has been its lack of shooting, Curry is the League’s most accomplished shooter. He can run point or be the off guard in smaller lineups. He is a must for international play.

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Irving made the most of his time in the 2014 FIBA World Championship and was named Most Valuable Player there. That should quiet down some of the critics who wondered if his inclusion was simply Coach K exerting his influence. Irving will have to compete for minutes though because Paul is not going to miss the Olympics unless injured.

Plumlee is in camp because of his work with the Select team in the last cycle. That ability got him promoted in a pinch to the National Team during the World Championship. Lack of skilled healthy big men got Plumlee his chance last time. This time LaMarcus Aldridge will be there and Blake Griffin will stay away from Croatian beach resorts. Plumlee’s invite to camp should be as far as it goes.

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The small ball era might be why Barnes was included. Barnes is a shooter, though not in the class of Curry, and has played small ball power forward in the past. It should be noted that Coach K recruited Barnes out of high school so Coach K should know what he is getting here.

Finally, Chris Paul is the best on ball defender in the League. Add in his tenacity and playmaking and you cannot keep him off this team. Question is, can he decide from his many options? He brings up the ball and he has Curry on the wing, LeBron James working the defense, or a potential lob to Blake Griffin. This is a wonderful problem to have.

Next: Paul Leads Team Worf to Victory in Africa