Make no mistake Team USA is Kevin Durant's team

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durant_USA.jpgAfter Thursday’s practice, Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski talked about how the players on this team have to get used to the more hockey-like shifts they take — three or four minutes of run at a time, keeping guys fresh.

Except Kevin Durant, he’s getting 10-minute shifts, as John Schuhmann noted on the Hang Time Blog.

We don’t know a lot about Team USA but we do know this — it is Kevin Durant’s team. He is the face of this squad. He comes at that job in a quieter manor than LeBron or Kobe or even Jordan, they guys we’re used to seeing as leaders. But don’t mistake that for passing the buck. This is just who Durant is, as he said to Chris Sheridan of ESPN:

“I doubt I’m the next face; I’m just another guy helping to bring a gold back to the U.S. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Durant said on what turned out to be a rough first day of minicamp for Team USA.

Quiet or not, he is going to be the designated scorer. Schuhmann noted that in a late scrimmage against top college players, Durant destroyed them.

Durant said afterward that he’s been holding back a little offensively, but for that last 10 minutes, the staff told him to be more aggressive. And he clearly was, scoring 14 of his team’s 26 points, and also dishing out two assists.

Six of the points came on catch-and-shoot threes. Two came on a pull-up, foul-line jumper off a curl screen. And the other six came at the free throw line after aggressive drives into the paint.

Durant is one of those guys whose game will translate well to the international game because his game would translate anywhere. He is just a flat out baller. And while he may be a different style of leader, looking at what has happened in Oklahoma City, it is pretty effective.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.