As day 3 of Team USA training camp wraps up today, Damian Lillard continues to fight for a roster spot. The backcourt competition for the upcoming 2014 FIBA World Cup is outrageous, with the point guard position being the most fierce. With roughly five players vying for three spots on the roster, Team USA head coach Mike Kryzewski has a very tough decision ahead of him. Time is also of the essence as the opening tip for the World Cup is exactly one month away in Spain.
Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, John Wall, and Kyrie Irving stand between Lillard and a coveted roster spot. Talk about a pool of talent. Wall was added to the 19-man preliminary roster on July 25th after Blake Griffin withdrew to allow a fracture in his back to heal. The addition of Wall makes the decision on a final backcourt lineup even more difficult. Advanced stats writer for NBA.com and Hangtime blog contributor John Schuhmann believes that Curry and Rose are locks for the 2014 roster. Schuhmann tweeted out his Team USA roster seen here:
How I see the USA roster breaking down as camp begins today (locks are ones w/ USA experience + PG): pic.twitter.com/dkwQvPKV6c
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) July 28, 2014
So what are the odds that Lillard lands one of the available point guard spots? Curry could possibly take a shooting guard spot, which would eliminate one hurdle for Lillard. Even though Rose has only played in 10 games over the last two NBA seasons, many believe he will take one point guard position due to his Team USA experience. Rose was part of the 2010 USA team that won gold at the FIBA World Championships. He also impressed many on day 1 of training camp and looks to be ready to help this year’s team repeat as champions.
In a perfect world, all of the players selected to the preliminary roster would land on the final roster. Yet there are only 12 spots available, leaving seven players on the outside looking in. Lillard understands this concept as he was quoted saying, “It’s one of those things where if you’re the guy that doesn’t happen to be chosen, you can’t be mad, because everybody here is worthy of being on the team.”
Lillard can offer Team USA a variety of talents. Is he the best defender among the point guard candidates? No. Is he the best shooter? Maybe. Is he the best play maker? He’d be in the discussion. As an all-around option, Lillard is very appealing. He believes he is very adaptive and can defend with greater intensity due to the limitation of minutes. With multiple players filling the various positions, playing time is limited and quick bursts of court time is typically what the coaching staff decides for each player. This opens up many lineup options which can be very effective.
Will Lillard impress coach Krzyzewski and his staff enough to land him a spot on the final roster? If not, who deserves to take his spot?