Can you win a world title in international ball without a quality center?
We’re about to find out. Team USA is going into the World Championships in Turkey next month without Brook Lopez — the best center on Team USA by a long shot. Lopez has pulled out of the FIBA World Championships in Turkey next month, according to Associated Press reporter Brian Mahoney.
Washington’s JaVale McGee will take his place on the roster.
Lopez has been battling a case of mono and tried to play through it at the Team USA camp in Vegas. He looked slow and tired, but because of what he can be Mike Krzyzewski put him on the final 15 roster for New York.
Without Lopez, your front line for Team USA will feature Tyson Chandler starting at the five with the athletic but not always focused McGee behind him. Team USA also lost Amare Stoudemire to insurance issues and David Lee to a finger injury, making the fours on the roster Kevin Love (well suited for international play), Jeff Green and Lamar Odom.
Team USA is not going to be dominating inside. Which is a really big understatement, frankly, I’m just trying to be a positive American. The USA could be in a lot of trouble against bigger teams. Spain will have Marc Gasol and a very good team around him. Brazil can throw a front line of Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter. How is the USA going to stop that?
Team USA has the best athletes overall, there is great talent on the roster. Kevin Durant will destroy people. But unless Chandler, McGee and some of the forwards really step up, the team’s lack of size and quality inside play may come back to bite them.
When LeBron James decided he was too cool to play for Team USA this summer, it seemed inevitable that all the cool kids would follow suit. Though guys like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony may have been leaders on their own clubs, during the summer all things go through LeBron.
Yet Team USA’s roster issues have become a bit more complicated. Not only will the team’s top players sit out the summer to recover from injury/deal with personal issues/do whatever it is they’d rather be doing, but Rajon Rondo won’t even return their phone calls and now Amar’e Stoudemire, one of the few stars actually committed to playing in the FIBA World Championships this year, may be a no-go.
From Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com:
Stoudemire underwent knee and eye surgeries while playing for the Phoenix Suns, but it was believed he was fully recovered from both conditions.
But the company that insures Knicks players’ contracts communicated its doubts, and it now appears Stoudemire will be unavailable for Team USA at the World Championship in Turkey in late August and early September.
Further details on Stoudemire’s status were expected to be disclosed Tuesday, when Team USA was scheduled to hold its first practice.
If Stoudemire isn’t available, the national team’s already slim crop at center becomes that much slimmer. Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee were recent additions to the Team USA mini-camp, which should tell you just where the program is in regard to bigs. Vying for a spot as the team’s starting center will be Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Kevin Love, and David Lee, and while all are fine NBA players, each has flaws that could easily be exposed in the international game.