Paul George boarded a private jet Sunday afternoon for a quick flight from his California place to Las Vegas, where USA Basketball is holding training camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup next month. 19 players were selected for the National Team, including last minute additions because guys baked out due to injuries or other reasons.
NBA TV will hold a special live broadcast Tuesday during the entirety of Team USA’s practice, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. George is scheduled to be mic’d up during practice and be interviewed.
Camp runs for the next five days, and concludes with an exhibition game at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV. During that time, they’ll hold practices, dive into the playbook, work to become comfortable playing with one another and building that chemistry.
They also have the benefit of scrimmaging against the Select Team, a group of NBA players that challenge the National team – and may be part of the team in future years.
The 19 players brought in —
Derrick Rose, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry,
James Harden, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan
Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Paul Millsap
Out of the 19 guys in camp, I’d estimate that there are five locks – Derrick Rose (depending on his health), James Harden, George, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis – to then make the Olympic roster in 2016. The most notable guys, like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony, are not playing in this – and Kevin Love (NBA team status unsettled) and Blake Griffin (wear and tear) bailed in the last week.
George has become a regular part of Team USA and perhaps could have a big role in its future. He’s long, a ferocious defender, a solid shooter, and has the body to play both the 3 and 4 in international basketball. The team is headed up by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who last year challenged George to play more aggressive.
“Coach wanted me to just be aggressive,” George told me last year after Team USA camp. “He knows I can do everything well but he really wanted me to come out here and be aggressive, look to make plays, look to score and really let the game come to me but at the same time, be aggressive.”
USA Basketball Chairmen Jerry Colangelo, who is the lead man in inviting players to participate, sees something special in George.
“We kind of fell in love with Paul George when we brought him into one of our camps a couple years back,” he said in January when the initial roster was announced. “I could not be more excited to have watched his development and what he has now become — one of the outstanding players in the NBA. His versatility, and his ability to play different positions makes him a very valuable asset on any team.
George has had a busy offseason working out, holding camps in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, playing in the Drew League Pro Am, visiting Nike Headquarters, and just hanging out. While some of his Pacers teammates spent time at tropical islands or overseas, George said his time to do all that is coming…
“I think my special place will be USA Basketball when we’re in Madrid (for the World Cup),” George said in June.
After spending the week together, the National Team will reunite for camp in Chicago Aug. 14-16, then move to New York from Aug. 18-22. After that, they’ll be in Gran Canaria Aug. 24-26.
The roster will be trimmed to 12 for the FIBA World Cup, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. Team USA is in Group C, and is slated to play Finland, Turkey, New Zealand, Dominican Republic, and Ukraine in Bilbao prior to the Round of 16 in Barcelona.
— NBA (@NBA) July 28, 2014
All 19 @USABMNT players are in Las Vegas as the team has it’s first official meeting. pic.twitter.com/921hSlkaMZ
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 28, 2014