Participating in the FIBA World Championships for Team USA is largely about sacrifice. Players surrendering their games for the good of the team, and putting aside egos. But that doesn’t mean players aren’t getting anything out of it. For one, they’re being kept in better shape than they would be lounging all summer and occasionally going for a workout on their own schedule. For another, it affords them opportunities to work beyond their own game in a different setting to expand what they can do. Here’s a look at three players who so far seem to be getting the most, basketball-wise, out of the experience.
1. Andre Iguodala: Iguodala is one of those players who everyone debates his value. Hyper-athletic, a terrific passer and a solid rebounder, he’s a wing that does it all. But consistently he’s been criticized for not being able to create his own shot, and for being more of a fill-in-all-the-gaps kind of player rather than a focus, despite the latter being his role his Philadelphia. But so far in Team USA play, he’s been arguably the most impressive player for Team USA outside of Durant. He’s actually been the initiator, and his combination of speed and hands on the perimeter have wreaked havoc on opposing guards. Iguodala also seems to be taking a leadership role, being vocal and rallying teammates. This could spell great things for Philadelphia if he can take that kind of jump.
2. Eric Gordon: Gordon’s shooting has always been there, but it’s been good to see him working as a secondary spot-up option, given the needs of the Clippers. The idea of Blake Griffin and Gordon running the two-man game is pretty enticing. Gordon’s been good off the dribble but this role may suit him better. Combine that with his work on defense, and it’s been a huge win for him so far. This experience also probably helps with knowing what it’s like to play with real leaders. Seeing as how, well, it’s the Clippers.
3. Kevin Love: Love’s doing pretty much what he always does, throwing great outlet passes, rebounding like mad, working hard inside and operating in the flow of the team. The best thing he’s getting out of Team USA? Getting things he hasn’t gotten in his NBA career. Good teammates, the trust of his coach, minutes, and appreciation.