Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons was invited to training camp with Team USA where the roster for the 2014 FIBA World Cup will start to take shape. It’s a privilege in itself just to be invited, but Drummond wants to prove he deserves to be on the team.
The recently rebranded 2014 FIBA World Cup will be held in Spain from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. The tournament winner will automatically qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Team USA, full of the NBA’s best young players, has gathered for training camp in Las Vegas this week. There will be a showcase scrimmage tomorrow to wrap up the team’s week in Sin City.
The 20 players who are competing for a spot on Team USA for the 2014 FIBA World Cup are: John Wall, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, DeMarcus Cousins and Drummond.
At 20 years of age, Drummond is the youngest player competing for a spot. Still, I like his chances at making the team for a couple of reasons.
First and foremost, Team USA’s frontcourt options are very limited. Kevin Love, whose name you may have heard once or twice this offseason, announced his withdrawal from the player pool last week. Love joins LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin as bigs who recently announced they won’t be competing in Spain.
This leaves the team with Davis, Faried, Millsap, Cousins, Plumlee and Drummond as the only frontcourt options.
Because I don’t see Durant playing the four, Coach Mike Krzyzewski is going to need at least three big men on the team, and those in the know say Davis has all but locked up one of the spots.
This pits Drummond against four others competing for a projected two slots, which gives him good odds to make the team.
Much better odds than if he were a point guard. I know I wouldn’t want to be in a position battle between the likes of Wall, Irving, Lillard, Rose and Curry. That’s going to be one tough decision for Coach K and company.
The second reason that Drummond has a good shot at making the team is the competition. Team USA will more than likely be looking at a finals rematch with Spain, who they beat in the Gold Medal Game at the 2012 Olympics.
Spain’s roster is full of bruising big men, including the NBA’s Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Team USA is going to need size on its roster to be able to take them out again. Drummond can provide that with his 6-foot-10, 270-pound frame.
Finally, given Davis has taken one of the 12 spots already, I’ll make the argument that Drummond should be on this team because he is the most athletic of the remaining big men — with no offense to fans of Faried.
With a vertical of over 33 inches, Drummond is an unmatched combination of size and athleticism. He is large enough to bang with Spain’s bigs, yet athletic enough to run the floor and play above the rim.
Cousins can undoubtedly score better than Drummond, but is more athletic? No. Besides, Team USA doesn’t need much of scoring presence inside. They are going to be a guard-heavy team that is looking to fast break every possession.
To start these fast breaks you need to grab rebounds. Of all the things that Drummond does on the court, rebounding is his strongest attribute.
According to ESPN’s Hollinger NBA Player Statistics, Drummond had the league’s best rebound rate last season with a score of 22.3. Rebound rate is a statistic that measures the percentage of missed shots a player rebounds.
No other player can bring rebounding, size and athleticism to Team USA like Drummond would be able to. The only way I don’t see him making the team is if Coach K decides free throw shooting will be the deciding factor.
Drummond’s putrid career average of 40.2 percent from the line is not going to get it done. Still, FIBA officials do allow more contact than their NBA counterparts, so I don’t know how much of a factor this will be in the decision.
The roster will be cut down to 15 following tomorrow’s showcase scrimmage, with that number trimmed to 12 following three exhibition games later in August. I think Drummond has what it takes and will be heading to Spain. What do you think?