by Scott Agness – Follow Scott
Paul George and nearly three dozen other NBA players are in Las Vegas to train at UNLV with USA Basketball ahead of the FIBA World Cup (Aug. 30 – Sept. 14).
George is one of 20 players vying for a spot on the 12-man National Team roster, although it’s nearly a sure thing that the likes of George, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Anthony Davis are a handful of the locks to make the trip to Spain. This is another big step for George, 24, an unheralded recruit out of Palmdale, Cali. In four years, he’s become a top-15 player in the Association and best known for his two-way play.
Team USA won’t necessarily look to him to score – they know he has it in his aresenal – but rather have him be focused on the defensive end and giving the opponents’ lead players fits. It wasn’t long ago, during his rookie season, that the only way former Pacers coach Jim O’Brien would play PG was for his defense. That’s partly how George became so good on that side of the floor – he worked at it.
Training camp runs all week, concluding on Friday with a scrimmage. Following the first two practices, George spoke with the gathered reporters. Read what he had to say below:
On if he changed his preparation when he found out about the camp:
“No, not really. It’s just getting used to the (FIBA) basketball. Learning how to dribble, learning how to shoot with it. And just doing repetition stuff and making sure my body was conditioned well enough. It’s a different intensity playing with this team.”
On if he feels he’s adjusted to the USA Basketball coaching staff this year:
“Yeah, we’re starting to understand what Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) likes and his playing style. We’re starting to transform more and more every year on the way he plays the game. It’s been great for both of us, Coach K as well as the players because he has a different mind and he has a great mind of the game. He helps a lot of us out and myself, I’ve learned a lot from him.”