Why Team USA Needs Every Point Guard They Have for FIBA World Cup

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterAugust 8, 2014

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No more cutting point guards. We're good now. Let's move on. 

The John Wall cut leaves USA Basketball with Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard as the remaining starting NBA point guards. And hopefully that's how it stays.

There's no sense in cutting one of them just to shave down the position, especially when they can afford to keep all four. 

And not only that, but they could each serve a legitimate purpose. 

With Kevin Durant pulling out of the competition and Paul George down with a broken leg, Team USA will need as much offensive firepower as it can get. 

And that might mean playing small ball. Given the versatility of USA's guards and forwards, coach Mike Krzyzewski should be able to pull it off. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 01:  Derrick Rose #41 of the 2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team brings the ball up the court during a USA Basketball showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 1, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Ima
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo gave his views last month on his guards and their versatility.

"It's hard to create more than two pure points (on the roster)," Colangelo told USA Today's Sam Amick. "Kyrie is a pure point. John Wall is a point. Derrick is a point. Curry can play point, but he's a two (shooting guard). Harden is a two-three (shooting guard-small forward). Damian is a tweener also – he goes both ways."

Though Colangelo mentioned he only planned on going with two point guards, he also said that Curry and Lillard both had 2-guard capability. 

And considering the 6'7" size of Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan, along with the absence of Durant and George, Team USA can play some of their 2-guards at the 3 spot, allowing Curry and Lillard to unleash their perimeter-scoring attack off the ball.

The flexibility Coach K has with the 1-3 positions is tremendous. We could be looking at potent second-unit trios like Irving, Curry and Thompson or Lillard, Harden and DeRozan. I might have trouble sleeping at night if they ended up reducing that flexibility for Kyle Korver.

Right now, Team USA is looking at 15 names. Three cuts have to be made to finalize the 12-man roster.

Player Pool
Derrick RosePG
Kyrie IrvingPG
Stephen CurryPG/SG
Damian LillardPG/SG
Klay ThompsonSG/SF
DeMar DeRozanSG/SF
James HardenSG/SF
Kyle KorverSG/SF
Chandler ParsonsSF
Gordon HaywardSG/SF
Anthony DavisPF
Kenneth FariedPF
DeMarcus CousinsC
Mason PlumleeC
Andre DrummondC
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In terms of the guards, you know Rose isn't going anywhere. The level of respect he's earned around the league is just too high. And with Durant going down, it's Rose, the former MVP, who could now be viewed as the veteran leader of this squad. 

And all reports have been positive regarding his health and performance. 

"He went right at it. The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler, moving his feet, attacking him," Coach K told ESPN's Nick Friedell. "There was a buzz right away because it was basically his saying, 'Look, I'm not just back. I'm back at a level that's elite.'"

And don't expect Curry to go anywhere. His passing and shooting ability add value to any lineup or rotation, while ESPN's Marc Stein calls Kyrie Irving an "inarguable roster lock."

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 01:  Damian Lillard #22 of the 2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team passes the ball during a USA Basketball showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 1, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Stein also dropped an interesting hypothetical scenario: "[What if] Krzyzewski decides he simply can't resist keeping Damian Lillard alongside Rose, Curry and Irving to form a quartet of small speedsters that the rest of the world isn't equipped to chase around?"

Now that's what I'm talking about. There are countries out there that can neutralize Team USA's size inside. Nobody can match the speed, athleticism or firepower offered by the American guards.

If Colangelo did have to cut a guard, it would seem like Lillard would be the odd man out. But he shouldn't have to.

Of the three centers, you'd like to think Colangelo will cut one, whether it's DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond or Mason Plumlee. 

That leaves two more cuts to be made. 

Not to downplay their talent, but based on the roster and its needs, Korver and Gordon Hayward appear a bit more expendable than others—especially when you consider the presence of Thompson, Harden, DeRozan and Chandler Parsons at the wing positions. 

The fact is that this roster's core strengths fall in the backcourt. It's what this team's identity is built around now that Team USA's top two wing players are both gone.

Coach K might not use Rose, Curry, Irving and Lillard each in full-time roles throughout the tournament, but having additional playmakers capable of generating offense on demand could provide some valuable extra cushion in case the offense ever gets stagnant. 

Colangelo will be cutting some of the fat on this roster pretty soon, but hopefully he stays away from the backcourt, where USA packs its most potent offensive punch. 


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