In a somewhat surprising decision, Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was among the 19 players chosen for Team USA's training camp roster and will compete in camp for a spot on the 12-man roster coach Mike Krzyzewski will bring to the World Cup of Basketball in late August. Being chosen is an honor for the 21 year old guard and shows that he's getting some big-time recognition after his breakout performance in the 2014 playoffs. But Beal has a daunting task ahead of him as he tries to survive the final cut and make the trip to Spain, as he will face stiff competition from some of the NBA's best.
A few of the 12 roster spots seem like their locked up before camp even begins. Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Rockets guard James Harden, Timberwolves (for now) forward Kevin Love, and Clippers forward Blake Griffin are all arguably top-10 NBA players and appear virtual locks to make the roster. If Bulls point guard Derrick Rose proves healthy enough to play, he's a guarantee too. Warriors guard Steph Curry seems a likely choice at point guard due to his shooting prowess, and Pacers forward Paul George adds athleticism and perimeter defense. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, one of the best and most dynamic young players in the game, already has international play experience and is another near guarantee. Assuming these players all make the cut, which barring injury of other circumstances they should, it would leave 4 roster spots open for competition.
Beal, Pistons center Andre Drummond, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, Jazz guard/forward Gordon Hayward, Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, Hawks forward Kyle Korver, Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons, Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, and Warriors guard Klay Thompson would be the players battling it out for those final few spots. Either Irving or Lillard, possibly both, are good bets to make the team as an extra point guard. Drummond is the best big man defender and rim protector of that group and could make the team based on his defensive potential. It seems that the team is likely to add one more two guard, meaning that Beal will have to beat out Thompson, Hayward, Korver and DeRozan in order to secure a spot.
DeRozan had a breakout campaign last year but would appear to be the odd man out if the team wants to add more shooting. Korver fits that bill but has less of an all-around game than the other three. Beal's greatest competition for the other two guard spot appears to be Klay Thompson, as the two's overlapping skill sets make it unlikely that both will be added. At this point, Thompson likely has the advantage due to his size, defense and slightly better shooting numbers. While Beal is a skilled shooter, that isn't enough to make him stand out on a team full of shooters and scores, and his all-around game may not be developed enough to merit guaranteed inclusion. Add to that his lack of international playing experience, and Beal appears to be a long shot to make the final roster. Beal's star is clearly on the rise, and this won't be the last time he is chosen for Team USA's roster. But Wizards fans shouldn't count on seeing him in Spain this August.
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Tags: Basketball, Bradley Beal, NBA, Team USA, Washington, Washington Wizards, World Cup
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