USA Basketball announced its 12-man roster for the 2014 FIBA World Cup a few hours after Team USA's victory on Friday over Puerto Rico, and the list of players was surprising. Andre Drummond made the cut despite not receiving much playing time in exhibition games, and it didn't come at the cost of another big man. As well as the starting frontline of Anthony Davis and Kenneth Faried, you'll see DeMarcus Cousins and Mason Plumlee alongside Drummond on the bench. USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo said that the decision was made to have lots of options inside, via the Associated Press' Brian Mahoney:
Jerry Colangelo says US was just too intrigued by Drummond's potential to cut him. And wanted as many bigs as possible.— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) August 23, 2014
Perhaps it's respect for Spain, but US wanted option to play multiple bigs after years of ignoring size concerns. That also helped Drummond.— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) August 23, 2014
While we don't know what practices looked like, none of the bench bigs truly distinguished himself in exhibition play. It's unlikely head coach Mike Krzyzewski will use a 12-man rotation in Spain, so this means the competition will continue for Drummond, Cousins and Plumlee as they try to earn playing time.
Spain has a frontline featuring Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Pau Gasol, and it would be silly to think USA Basketball isn't thinking about that here. Krzyzewski must be happy to have all this size at his disposal, but he has to hope that the versatility and shooting lost when cutting Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver, Gordon Hayward and Damian Lillard doesn't end up being a problem.
In the past, Team USA has valued spreading the floor and moving the ball more than physicality on the inside, and that has proved a sound strategy in international competition. At the start of training camp, it looked like Kevin Durant, Paul George and Parsons would spend lots of time at power forward. Now they're all gone, for different reasons, with late addition Rudy Gay the only wing player left who is capable of moving up to the four spot. That could work out just fine, but it'll be interesting to see how everything comes together.
The FIBA World Cup begins on Aug. 30.