If the past is any indication, next month’s USA Basketball men’s national team mini-camp at UNLV figures to spawn several members of the 2016 Olympic team.
Wednesday, 27 players were announced as attendees for the July 22-25 camp and only one — New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis — has Olympic experience. Davis was on last year’s gold medal-winning team in London. But many of the invitees have experience with USA Basketball over the years and 10 were part of the Select Team program which worked out with and scrimmaged against the Olympic team last summer at the Mendenhall Center.
“History shows us that there’s always turnover,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Wednesday. “From this group will come a core group that will represent us at the World Cup in Spain next year.
“As for the Olympics, I think we’re probably looking at six open spots so this camp will be very important for us going forward to identify the candidates for those spots.”
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving leads the 11 returning Select Team members into next month’s camp. Also scheduled to attend will be San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard, Indiana guard Paul George, Golden State guard Klay Thompson, Utah forwards Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, Philadelphia guard Jrue Holiday, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan, Washington guard John Wall and Chicago guard Taj Gibson.
Among the national team first-timers will be Denver forward Kenneth Faried, Memphis guard Mike Conley, New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Milwaukee center Larry Sanders, Los Angeles Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan and Charlotte guard Kemba Walker.
Of the 27 invitees, 13 have two years’ NBA experience or less. Conley, who just completed his sixth season with the Grizzlies, has the most NBA experience of any player on the list.
“This is an exciting group of versatile and very talented players,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “This group has a good blend of experience, both with USA Basketball and in the NBA. It’s our first opportunity to see them at this elite level and I’m really anxious to get to work with them.”
Colangelo said he expects the competition to be fierce. He’s also curious to see how the play shakes out among the centers and forwards. The July 25 intra-squad game at the Thomas & Mack Center figures to be particularly interesting
“I’m intrigued by the different kind of bigs we have,” Colangelo said. “I don’t know them as well as I want. I’m interested in (Keith) Drummond and (Greg) Monroe and also Sanders. Anthony, I obviously know and I know Cousins. But I also want to see Faried.”
Colangelo said he talked with Cousins, the sometimes moody center who did not necessarily endear himself to Colangelo last summer.
“Everything’s good,” he said. “What’s in the past is in the past and we’re starting fresh. He’s a very talented player who we believe will fit in with what we’re doing and we believe he can help us.”
Among the notable missing names were Golden State’s Steph Curry and the New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert. Both are dealing with physical issues and were told to heal up and try and be available for next summer.
“Just because someone’s not here this year doesn’t mean they’re eliminated from the picture,” Colangelo said. “As you know, this is a very fluid process. Players come and go for a variety of reasons. But we like the group we’re bringing in to Las Vegas next month. They fit what we’re looking for, both on and off the court, and they’re excited to be here. So we’re already two for two.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.