Breaking Down Team USA: 4 Basketball Players Who Need to Step Up

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The official roster for Team USA’s journey into the 2014 FIBA World Cup tournament is complete, with the final 12 players coming from all over the NBA’s landscape in order to make up a competitive squad that can stand toe-to-toe with the best international talent available — most notably the team representing host country, Spain. There’s no LeBron, no Durant, no Carmelo, no Kevin Love and no Paul George, but the talent pool in the U.S. is deep enough that it’s going to come out all right.

And to be honest, this is probably a good thing, with the exception of Paul George’s injury: James and Anthony are almost 30, and Durant’s reaching the point in his career when rest becomes more of a priority over participating in international basketball. Tacking on competitions like the Olympics and FIBA tournaments to the 82-game grind of the NBA’s regular season (not to mention any additional games that come up in the playoffs) gets to be a lot of basketball and not a lot of rest, and the minutes add up.

There are guys on this squad — like Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Golden State’s Stephen Curry – who are top-tier competitors who, when healthy, can provide an incredible amount of impact on the floor. Those aren’t the players we’re concerned about, save lingering questions about Rose’s durability. Looking at the final 12 on the roster, we’ve identified four who definitely need to bring their A-game night in and night out, for many years into the future, if the U.S. is going to stay atop the international basketball scene.

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