Three-Man Weave: Burning Questions for Team USA

fibaThe 2014 Basketball World Cup is finally here. And you need to take it seriously, because everyone else does.

Thanks to NBC and the other fall-in-line media outlets, most Americans believe the Olympics is the premier international basketball event. Globally, nothing could be further from the truth.

With 24 teams and no automatic bid for the host, the World Cup is twice the size of the Olympics. It doesn’t share the spotlight with track or swimming. And most of the players will never play in the NBA, so this is the attainable pinnacle of their profession.

And last season, nearly 1 in 5 players in the NBA were born outside the United States. So, yeah, it’s not exactly the basketball turnip truck spending the next fortnight in Spain. The tournament features 75 current or former NBA players.

With that in mind, we bring you another edition of the Three-Man Weave, with burning questions about the World Cup.

1. Damian Lillard was reported to be on call for Team USA had Derrick Rose’s injury issues continued. Should Rose have made the final 12-man roster for Team USA?

CHRIS SHERIDAN, PUBLISHER: Once Team USA decided to take 12 players overseas instead of 13, it would have been a huge deal to remove Rose and fly in Lillard in at the last second. If they had gone abroad with 13, USA Basketball could have finessed Rose’s exit. The proof will come over the course of the tournament, but right now Rose looks too rusty. Team USA has an 11 1/2-man roster.

Lillard-USABCHRIS BERNUCCA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: No. It has been obvious throughout training camp and exhibitions that Rose either is (a) not fully recovered from his ACL and MCL tears over the last two years or (b) fully recovered and now a shell of his former self. His breakneck speed and impossible body control now appear in short bursts and are not sustained. The truth is that right now, Lillard is the better player, with a Rookie of the Year, an All-Star berth and a cold-blooded nature.

COACH BOBBY GONZALEZ, COLUMNIST: Yes, because Rose gives this United States team great star power with his presence. Even if he is only able to contribute in spurts, Rose gives Team USA supreme athleticism and confidence. You can throw in some swagger, too, which any team can use, especially this team, which will be doing a lot by committee.

2. In a two-possession game with three minutes to go, who should get the ball for Team USA?

SHERIDAN: My first choice is James Harden, because he is good at getting to the line. But then I remind myself, “Harden isn’t getting any calls from FIBA refs in the final three minutes, nor is any other American.” So I am changing my choice to Stephen Curry, who get create his own shot as well as anyone on this team and also is Team USA’s best 3-point shooter.

BERNUCCA: Much has been made of Anthony Davis’ alpha dog status on this team, but an alpha dog demands the ball and scores late in games. I shudder thinking about Davis firing an 18-footer off the pick-and-pop or trying to back down a defender from the low post in a close game. Sheridan’s point about the silent whistle is well-taken, but I still will go with James Harden in a slight edge over Kyrie Irving, because I believe Harden is a more willing drive-and-kick player than Irving.

GONZALEZ: I will say James Harden, because he gets buckets like most people breathe. At the end of the day, his uncanny HardenUSABability to make tough shots and get himself to the free throw line and create his own shot late in possessions. Harden gives the Americans their best chance in a must-score situation.

3. Which five players will make the 2014 World Cup All-Tournament Team?

SHERIDAN: This is the “Bo McCalebb Question.” Few remember that the American point guard playing for Macedonia made the All-Tournament Team at Istanbul four years ago. This tournament might have three players from the C-D side of the bracket, where competition is easier and a new Macedonia could emerge (Australia?). I’ll go with Australian guard Dante Exum, Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, Spanish center Marc Gasol, French forward Nicolas Batum and American forward Anthony Davis.

BERNUCCA: Just because Davis doesn’t get the ball at the end of a close game or two doesn’t mean he won’t own the tournament. His athleticism at both ends will allow him to dominate and make him a shoo-in for the All-Tournament Team. I agree with Sheridan’s theory, but my McCalebb is Finnish forward Petteri Koponen. They will be joined by Batum and guards Juan Carlos Navarro of Spain and Goran Dragic of Slovenia.

GONZALEZ: From Team USA, Davis and Harden, From Spain, Bulls forward-center Pau Gasol. From Lithuania, Valanciunas. And from Slovenia, Dragic.

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  1. Jake freedman says

    Your obvious hatred towards derrick rose has gotten out of hand but maybe some can get past that but rose has never torn his mcl ever so this site loses all credibility I ever had for it.

  2. mark says

    While Irving deserves to start, Rose has been the best defensive point guard out of Irving and Curry (Curry has had trouble staying on the floor because of his defense). Also, Rose is looking to push the ball and distribute more so than Irving and Curry. The stat lines can’t show this and don’t. Too many turnovers, yes, but many other players have had weaknesses (such as scorers that have had poor scoring games). Chris Sheridan, I thought your critiques of Rose were fair to this point, but you have gone too far in this article. If Rose goes for 20 points and 8 assists in one game, which he obviously capable of doing, your position that he is only “half” a player will look foolish. If he doesn’t have a break out game scoring wise, you still look foolish. Rose’s role, which he has said since day 1, is to defend and distribute. The fact that he only shows his explosiveness to the hoop once or twice a game is enough. That means every time he goes to the lane, defenders are collapsing and shooters are open.

    • Tony B says

      I don’t even think it has been fair simply for reasons you stated. If Rose was trying to do too much and was actually trying to score and not trying to pick his spots where he’s aggressive I’d say he’s right, but rose is clearly trying to run the offense fluidly. Look at how much better klay Thompson plays with Rose not to mention Rose barely plays with Anthony Davis. It seems like the critiques are coming from a place of hate more do than anything. Why no criticism for Derozan or someone else who isn’t making too much of a difference or the fact Damien Lillard while out there didn’t really seem invested in the games?

      Rose does have too many turnovers, most being from losing the ball all correctable but coming out and saying he can only sustain his speed and body control in spurts I just don’t get where the evidence of this is, even kyrie isn’t out there going full tilt all game. Oh, and maybe you should critique the starting back court from yesterday as they effected the game minimally and you talked about plus minus well Rose had the best on the team with that too. You talked about Rose being burned twice against Dragic, who was an all Nba performer, twice out of 20 minutes of all out pressure is pretty good especially when you don’t have the rim protection of Davis and Faried as a safety net. Three plays I was watching yesterday where kyrie literally just sat in the lane not even looking for his man and I was so tempted to screenshot it and send it to Chris Sheridan but I’m not on a kyrie hate fest. I actually enjoyed watching him handle the ball yesterday but come on, Chris

      I’m not just a Chicago who gets jumpy at any Derrick Rose critique but when it’s horrible and obvious nitpicking then it must be countered.

  3. 3cheech says

    How do you expect readers to take you seriously when you don’t even have your facts straight? While Rose did tear his ACL, he didn’t tear his MCL. He tore his medial meniscus the second time around. Huge difference. You guys have been continuously wrong about Derrick Rose throughout your coverage of Team USA.

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