In a way, the 20 players participating in this week's USA Basketball minicamp are no different from the millions of others who visit Las Vegas each year.
There's a chance they might strike it rich, but only a select few will walk away winners.
There's a small window to make a positive impression, beginning today at Valley High School and culminating with Saturday's intrasquad game at the Thomas & Mack Center. The reality is there are only a handful of spots available on Team USA's roster for the 2010 FIBA World Championships, because several spots will go to Team USA veterans such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
The competition figures to be fierce, in the drills overseen by coach Jay Triano and the daily scrimmages.
"It's hard to project exactly how many spots there's going to be," said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball's managing director. "The plan is to watch this week and get a pretty good look at what we have. We also have next (NBA) season to look. So we should get a good idea between the two about what we have."
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski will not be on the floor at the minicamp, which is geared toward younger NBA players who have not played for the senior national team. But he and his staff will watch closely from the stands.
"We want to get to know the guys and get a read on them," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know how many of them will be with us next summer, but I think it's safe to see there'll probably be more than one."
Kevin Durant figures to be the first one. The 6-foot-9-inch Oklahoma City guard nearly made the Olympic team last year, and he has been preparing for this week to show he is ready to take the next step.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to possibly play for Coach K," Durant said last weekend while watching the Thunder play in the NBA Summer League at UNLV. "I was hoping to be part of the last team, but I'm excited about maybe being on the next Olympic team."
Colangelo all but said Durant will be on next year's world championships roster.
"You have to aspire to be an Olympian," Colangelo said. "Durant, he's paid his dues. He keeps getting better."
Krzyzewski also mentioned that he'll keep a close eye on Durant. But the Duke coach also wants to watch Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who was the NBA's rookie of the year, as well as Philadelphia 76ers guard Andre Iguodala.
"Iguodala has shown a huge commitment, and Derrick Rose has also shown a big commitment," Krzyzewski said. "This minicamp will not only help us with next year and 2012, it sets the stage for 2014 (world championships) and 2016 (Olympics)."
One player Krzyzewski won't see is Blake Griffin. The Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward sustained a shoulder injury during summer league play and pulled out of the minicamp. The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday reported that Griffin is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks because of a right shoulder strain.
There were no plans to replace Griffin on the roster, which will remain at 20.
• NOTES -- Portland guard Jerryd Bayless pulled out of the minicamp with injuries to his wrist and calf, also sustained in summer league play. Former UNR center JaVale McGee, who was impressive in the summer league for the Washington Wizards, took Bayless' place on the roster. ... All seats for Saturday's game at the Thomas & Mack are in the lower bowl. Balcony seats purchased in advance will be honored for a seat downstairs. ... The minicamp practices today and Friday at Valley are closed to the public.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.