This article is actually about a couple of new additions to and a handful of recent dropouts from USA Basketball's minicamp in Las Vegas, but this is the first time I've heard mention of the possible candidates for the US team that will be competing in 2010 and 2012. Those mentioned in the article:
Eric Gordon Anthony Randolph Kevin Durant Jeff Green Russell Westbrook O.J. Mayo Rudy Gay Derrick Rose Blake Griffin Devin Harris Brook Lopez Greg Oden Jerryd Bayless Paul Millsap Ronnie Brewer Kyle Korver Andre Iguodala Thaddeus Young D.J. Augustin Kevin Love Josh Smith
Now out are Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Trevor Ariza, and Glen Davis. David Lee and Danny Granger will be at the minicamp but won't participate, whatever that means.
I know we won the gold medal already so all that "Redeem Team" business is over, but are we already falling back? There are some nice players on this list (Derrick Rose, I'm looking at you) but this is a GIGANTIC step back. Three players from Oklahoma City? Two from the Grizz and the Clips EACH?? I count only 9 players on that list that made the playoffs last year and only 10 total with any NBA playoff experience whatsoever. And I believe only 1 of those 9 players (my boy Josh Smith) even made it out of the first round.
What's going on here?! Am I just not giving these guys enough credit? Are the LeBrons and the McGradys of the league just waiting until later to join in?
I think the missing piece here is USA Basketball is not looking to make the 2010 & 2012 teams out of this group of guys alone. Some of these players will make the (30+) player pool from which the actual final rosters are chosen.
The guys in this mini camp generally weren't around to be evaluated last time around, so that's what this is for.
There are no major events until 2010 for the US; winning the gold medal allows them to skip regional qualifying for the '10 World Championship. Doing this mini camp now allows them to cut down this group of possibilities before doing another cut next August.
It would likely be the same reason why they put all the California teams in the same division. They wanted the teams to be within relatively close proximity of each other in their respective divisions.