As the week here in Vegas is coming to a close and Team USA will play an exhibition showcase tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center, here are five things to keep an eye on.
No. 1: The rosters have been released, and Mason Plumlee is playing. This is big news, because he is the only member of the Select Team who appears to be getting promoted to the Senior Team. I know the USA coaching staff have been impressed with him, and being that they are vulnerable along the front line it will not surprise me if somehow he’s added as a 20th guy for the team’s camp in Chicago Aug. 14-16.
No. 2: I’m curious to see how the competition shakes out between these three guys: Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward and Kyle Korver, as essentially all three guys pretty much bring the same things to the table and they will not be able to keep all three. One thing that could separate them is that Parsons is a little bigger than the other two, and he might be able to give them some good minutes behind Kevin Durant as a skilled stretch 4.
No. 3: Speaking of Durant, it looks to me like they are going to play him much more as a big skilled 4 man, which will be similar to the past Olympic team when they played small the majority of the time with Carmelo Anthony at the 4. I will be looking for Paul George to swing to the 4, and again perimeter skill and quickness will be the No. 1 strength of this team.
No. 4: I believe assistant coach Tom Thibodeau was brought in to put his stamp on the team defensively as his reputation with the Chicago Bulls has grown into him being the best defensive guru teaching coach in the NBA. I really enjoyed watching him teach and work with the team on their positioning and intensity level, and I think everyone will be able to see his effect on this team going forward, as the key to them being successful will be how well they grow defensively as a unit.
No. 5: In my coaching career we used to have a term and belief that “practice is for the coaches but the games are for the players.” And one thing about games is that when the lights come on, certain guys will often rise to the to the pressure of the challenge and the atmosphere, and the only way to know that is to play the games, so am really looking forward to see who steps up on a big stage with a lot at stake tonight knowing how much it means to some of these guys who want to make this team.
I personally want to thank Chris Sheridan, who is an excellent writer with a ton of integrity, for assigning me to camp because he knows my history of coaching for USA Basketball and my great passion for the game. I will be in attendance tonight for the intrasquad scrimmage and will write my fifth and final column afterward. I can assure all the great followers who have reached out that I will save my best for last.
Bobby Gonzalez is a former Division I coach at Manhattan and Seton Hall who has been writing columns for SheridanHoops since March, 2014.
MORE FROM BOBBY GONZALEZ:
TEAM USA, DAY ONE: Derrick Rose looks great for Team USA, But there is a PG Glut.
TEAM USA, DAY TWO: DeMarcus Cousins Finding a Different Groove for Team USA
TEAM USA: DAY THREE: Shall we call this team “The Unknowns?”