At around 1 am ET this morning, the official Team USA roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain was announced and after weeks of speculation it turned out no one could have predicted the exact roster that would surround Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis as the US tries to repeat as World Champions.
Instead of having the expected single backup for Anthony Davis of either Mason Plumlee, Andre Drummond or DeMarcus Cousins, Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski decided to bring all three along and leave Damian Lillard, Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons and Kyle Korver at home.
While the roster may not be the most ideal one for Team USA (I tend to think Korver would have been a better option than DeMar DeRozan or one of the three backup centers) things seemed to have broken almost perfectly for the New Orleans Pelicans when they look at how the roster should impact Davis.
Just a few weeks ago it looked like Davis would have to play a massive amount of minutes for the American team after Kevin Durant dropped out of consideration for the roster and Paul George was lost to a horrific leg injury. That left Davis as one of the only players on the roster with international experience as well as the only projected player of the top three projected big men to remain on the roster.
With the way Team USA typically plays (using a stretch four with a center that is responsible for much of the rebounding and rim protecting) that meant Davis was in line to play a heavier amount of minutes than most Team USA big men because he was the only center the team knew it could rely on. The expectation at that time was that one of Plumlee and Cousins would make the roster with Drummond staying home and Parsons and/or Hayward seeing playing time as that stretch four off the bench.
But things have changed massively since that time and the changes work great for Davis and the Pelicans. Now the team has three other big men to man the center spot, allowing Davis ample time to rest when the Americans are blowing out teams early in pool play and preserving his legs for the long grind of an NBA season. Those three centers also allow Davis to shift to his natural position of power forward at times if needed where he would replace Kenneth Faried and the poor defensive and floor spacing job he does, allowing Team USA to play as close to their preferred style as possible without Durant and George.
Things obviously aren’t perfect for the Pelicans. Davis still looks like he is going to be playing a ton of his minutes next to Faried which means he will be asked to do a massive amount of work on defense to keep things in order and he will still play a lot of minutes at center against bigger and beefier players before he heads into training camp which has the potential to wear him down. But the depth at center should at least cut some of that work back more than expected which should make the Pelicans and Davis pretty happy.