“Making The Band”: 2015 Team USA Minicamp

LeBron James is back for another go round with Team USA. (Getty Images)
LeBron James is back for another go round with Team USA. (Getty Images)

The 2015 Team USA minicamp is set to begin today in Las Vegas. 34 invitees will fight for the opportunity to compete for the gold, in Rio, at the 2016 Olympics. There’s a few no-brainless in the field, including LeBron James and, reigning MVP, Stephen Curry.

But right now, we will briefly explain what each player brings to the table and highlight their chances of making the final roster. We will classify each player with three stamps: their NBA role (ex. UnderDOG, Top DOG), their potential role on Team USA, and how likely it is that they will don the red, white and blue next summer.


To keep it simple, here are a couple of “stamps” to follow:

DOG Terms:

Top DOG: the elite of the elite; stars & superstars 

Star UnderDOG: borderline stars who are indispensable members of a roster 

UnderDOG: role player/specialist who makes a key difference 


Team USA Likelihood:

Probable: almost a lock to make the roster

Questionable: 50-50 chance

Doubtful: will likely get cut


LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) – PF/C

LA Team USA

Age: 30 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

Aldridge has the size and offensive ability to star in an international setting. His jumper stretches out to the NBA 3-point line and past Team USA rosters have featured bigs who can stretch the floor (ex. Chris Bosh, Kevin Love).

Questionable


Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – SF/PF

Melo Team USA

Age: 31 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

Back in 2012, Carmelo was one of the stars (avg. 16.3 ppg) for Team USA. With an excellent frame and explosive scoring prowess, he is the perfect hybrid player who can bang and score on the perimeter. If healthy, he is almost a lock to represent Team USA in the Olympics for the 4th consecutive time.

Probable


Harrison Barnes (GSW) – SF

Harrison Barnes Team USA

Age: 24 | NBA Role: UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Barnes played a key role for the Dubs during their entire championship run. But he’s as versatile as he is inconsistent and might not make enough of an impact on both ends to justify a selection. During minicamp, he has to show he can be a two-way threat.

Doubtful


Bradley Beal (WAS) – SG

Brad Beal Team USA

Age: 22 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Similar to Michael Redd in 2008, Beal has a puncher’s chance to make the squad solely on the basis that he can stroke it from deep. Wild cards/specialists like Beal generally get long looks during this process because distance shooting is highly coveted in international play.

Questionable


Jimmy Butler (CHI) – SG/SF

Jimmy Butler Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Jimmy Buckets is the kind of UnderDOG coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff may be looking for. A versatile defender who is no slouch on the perimeter, Butler has a nice shot to play his way into the versatile role Andre Iguodala & Tayshaun Prince carved out for themselves in previous years.

Questionable


Michael Carter-Williams (MIL) – PG

MCW Team USA

Age: 23 | NBA Role: UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

A big guard with a burgeoning floor game, MCW has the tools to be a fixture for Team USA down the road. Right now, however, his shaky jumper holds him back.

Doubtful


Mike Conley (MEM) – PG

Mike Conley Team USA

Age: 27 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Conley remains one of the more underrated players in the league. He has incredible basketball IQ and should challenge for the backup PG spot. But can he outperform more explosive guards like John Wall & Russell Westbrook?

Questionable


DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) – PF/C

DeMarcus Cousins Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

Cousins was dominant last year during FIBA play; there aren’t many players stateside or overseas who can contain him down low. During Olympic play, he could get lost in the shuffle due to the speed of the game and his lack of perimeter shooting. But don’t bet on it!

Questionable


Stephen Curry (GSW) – PG

Stephen Curry Team USA

Age: 27 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

The 2015 MVP is a lock to make the roster. In fact, he has a beat on the starting point guard position with Chris Paul getting up there in age. Curry’s shooting, passing and leadership are at elite levels and he gained valuable experience during FIBA play last summer.

Probable


Anthony Davis (NOP) – PF/C

Anthony Davis Team USA

Age: 22 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

Like Curry, there is no way AD will be overlooked if healthy. At age 22, he is arguably the second best player in the league and is getting better each and every season. AD also has added motivation since he was in a supporting/reserve role on the 2012 Gold Medal team.

An easy starter and star, Davis will be essential to bring home the hardware once again.

Probable


DeMar DeRozan (TOR) – SG/SF

DeMar DeRozan Team USA

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Despite playing in the FIBA World Cup last year, DeRozan faces an uphill battle to make this roster. We all know how impressive he is as an athlete and one on one scorer. For DeRozan to make waves, he needs to increase his presence as a defender and playmaker.

Doubtful


Andre Drummond (DET) – C

Andre Drummond Team USA

Age: 21 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Drummond is vying for the chance to become a Tyson Chandler-esque player for Coach K. But unlike Chandler, Drummond is more of an offensive rebounder than rim protector. And with his horrendous foul shooting, he can’t be counted on to deliver down the stretch of games.

If Drummond makes the team, he’ll be limited to spot minutes off the bench.

Doubtful


Kevin Durant (OKC) – SF

Kevin Durant Team USA

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

In 2012, KD was the leading scorer during group play and scored a game-high 30 points in the gold medal game versus Spain. The only thing that may hold him back is his nagging foot problems. If he is ready to go, there is no more devastating scorer in the NBA today.

Probable


Kenneth Faried (DEN) – PF

Kenneth Faried Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Faried was the breakout star last summer and was instrumental for Team USA as they captured gold. He is a matchup problem due to his athleticism and relentless energy on the glass but could be the odd man out with bigs like Blake Griffin & LaMarcus Aldridge back in the picture.

Questionable


Rudy Gay (SAC) – SF

Rudy Gay Team USA

Age: 28 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Gay is always one of the final cuts to make the roster for Team USA. He is a talented offensive player who executes well in this setting but, quite simply, he plays the wrong position. The forward position is already stacked with the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony figuring to garner the bulk of the playing time.

Like DeRozan, he must focus on doing the “little things” to survive.

Questionable


Paul George (IND) – SG/SF

Paul George Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

After suffering a nasty leg injury during the Blue-White scrimmage last summer, it will great just to see PG-13 back on the floor. But we’re thinking it won’t stop there. George has had almost a year to work himself back into NBA shape and could pick up right where he left off.

Questionable


Draymond Green (GSW) – PF

Draymond Green Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Similar to his role with the Dubs, Green is a jack of all trades whose impact is invaluable. He has the versatility to play either the 4 or 5 during small ball and is a skilled playmaker and defender to throw into the fray situationally. He’s a legitimate wild card to make the cut.

Questionable


Blake Griffin (LAC) – PF

Blake Griffin Team USA

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

As great as Griffin is, his game does not translate well to Olympic play. He is ridiculously athletic and talented but does not have the perimeter skills or defensive capabilities to play against jump-shooting bigs featured on most international teams.

However, Coach K will likely find some sort of role for BG, even if it’s similar to the one Carlos Boozer played (seldom-used big) during the 2008 Olympics.

Questionable


James Harden (HOU) – SG

James Harden Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

Like Anthony Davis, 2016 will be Harden’s time to shine after playing a small part in the 2012 run to the top. His game is absolutely perfect for international play, as evident with his great showing during the FIBA World Cup last summer.

He slots in as the starting shooting guard and could lead Team USA in scoring.

Probable


Tobias Harris (ORL) – SF/PF

Tobias Harris Team USA

Age: 24 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Harris has had an excellent summer. After signing a 4 yr./$64 million extension to stay in Orlando, he will gain great experience playing with some of the NBA’s elite talent. He’s a long shot to make the roster but this minicamp could pay off huge going forward.

Doubtful


Gordon Hayward (UTA) – SF

Gordon Hayward Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Hayward is a nice talent who continues to evolve. He was one of the final cuts for last year’s FIBA World Cup and it does not bode well that some of the big guns (LeBron, Carmelo, etc.) are back in the fold. Every team needs a glue guy but Hayward’s field may be too great to overcome.

Doubtful


Dwight Howard (HOU) – C

Dwight Howard Team USA

Age: 29 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Howard, a gold medalist in 2008, looks to reclaim his spot on the roster eight years later. With his back in better shape, he is the sort of defensive presence/post defender Team USA sorely lacks. He is the one guy who can give talented bigs like the Gasol bros. (Pau & Marc) trouble with his activity and multiple effort.

But with a healthy Davis & Griffin, is Dwight’s inclusion even necessary?

Questionable


Kyrie Irving (CLE) – PG

Kyrie Irving Team USA

Age: 23 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

If you haven’t realized it already, there are many talented lead guards hoping to make the trip to Rio. Kyrie, injuries notwithstanding, is another All-Star, with Team USA experience, who can change the pace and provide great relief for the starters. He’s not exactly a lock to make the team but we’re betting the coaches will give him a lengthy chance to shine.

Questionable


LeBron James (CLE) – SF

LeBron James

Age: 30 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

LeBron is the best player in the universe right now, so his roster status is not in question. His imprint on Team USA and ability to do EVERYTHING on the court is unparalleled. The real intrigue here is if he will win his third straight gold medal and become one of the most decorated Olympic athletes in recent memory.

Probable


DeAndre Jordan (LAC) – C

DeAndre Jordan Team USA

Age: 27 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Jordan is finally able to focus on basketball after his wild free agency period. But like Drummond, his poor shooting from the free throw line, along with his inability to play from the outside, hurts his chances. If Jerry Colangelo decides to pick a big solely on his activity and rebounding prowess, he vaults right back into the discussion.

Doubtful


Kawhi Leonard (SAS) – SF

Kawhi Leonard Team USA

Age: 24 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

We’ll make a bold prediction here: Kawhi Leonard will be selected as one of the 12 finalists for Team USA. He brings so much to the table and in previous years, Coach K has valued players like Tayshaun Prince & Andre Iguodala for important stretches during the tournament. With all of the scoring power, a stopper should be featured to defend key perimeter threats.

And who better to turn to than the reigning Defensive Player of the Year?

Probable


Kevin Love (CLE) – PF

Kevin Love Team USA

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Although he already won gold in 2012, Love will use this minicamp as a forum to show he is still one of the better four men in the league. He can separate himself from everyone else at his position if he shoots lights out from beyond the arc.

Questionable


Victor Oladipo (ORL) – SG

Victor Oladipo Team USA

Age: 24 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Oladipo can gauge where he stands as an elite NBA wing during the next week. It’s more of a “future investment” for him since the perimeter is far too crowded for him to show out. Once he matures even further, expect to hear his name called a few years from now.

Doubtful


Chandler Parsons (DAL) – SF

Chandler Parsons Team USA

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Star UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Parsons was knocking on the door last year and is at a similar point right now. He does not do a single thing “better” than any of his counterparts but can play multiple positions and knock down shots.

Questionable


Chris Paul (LAC) – PG

Chris Paul Team USA

Age: 30 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Top DOG

As long as CP3 is ready and willing to perform, he has a spot on Team USA. Seriously, don’t even count him out for the 2020 Olympics! One of the most competitive floor generals in league history, Paul will be responsible for keeping the engine running and maintaining the flow of the game at all times.

So basically, it’s another day in office!

Probable


Mason Plumlee (POR) – PF/C

Mason Plumlee Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: UnderDOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Coach K’s former All-American is here based upon his stellar play (overwhelmed with his post lane sprinting & athleticism) a year ago. He was a surprise inclusion on the FIBA squad but has an extremely tough climb to shock the world again. At best, he’ll be an injury replacement.

Doubtful


Klay Thompson (GSW) – SG

Klay Thompson Team USA

Age: 25 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

Klay is a two-way player who does not take many plays off. Not only is he one of the best shooters (career 42% from deep) on the planet, he can guard 1-3 effectively. We feel he is a can’t-miss selection and will be one of the more consistent contributors for Team USA.

Probable


John Wall (WAS) – PG

John Wall Team USA

Age: 24 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: UnderDOG

Derrick Rose’s decision to skip international play serves Wall well but he has to really earn fans amongst the coaching staff and Team USA’s hierarchy to get a spot. He’s undeniably fast, is a great passer and can defend his position when motivated. But which version of John Wall will show up?

Questionable


Russell Westbrook (OKC) – PG

Russell Westbrook

Age: 26 | NBA Role: Top DOG | Potential Team USA Role: Star UnderDOG

Westbrook has takeover ability, the “clutch gene” and intense passion all rolled into a single package. A true Top DOG, there is no doubt he will chisel out a crucial role for himself come 2016.

Probable


Here’s our prediction for the final roster:

Carmelo Anthony (NYK)

Jimmy Butler (CHI)

Stephen Curry (GSW)

Anthony Davis (NOP)

Kevin Durant (OKC)

Blake Griffin (LAC)

James Harden (HOU)

LeBron James (CLE)

Kawhi Leonard (SAS)

Chris Paul (LAC)

Klay Thompson (GSW)

Russell Westbrook (OKC)

Agree or disagree? Let us know in comments below or on Twitter @dofgamesports!

#DOFGAME #DOG

-Jabari J.

Share your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s