Electing to take minimal time away from the game as well as hiring a personal chef, the moment has finally arrived for Paul George to convert all of his hard work and ample preparation into one of the twelve roster spots available on Team USA. Yesterday, Paul George, along with 18 other players representing 16 different NBA teams, arrived in Las Vegas for USA Basketball's week long training camp:
According to NBA.com's John Schumann, USA Basketball's managing director Jerry Colangelo plans to trim the 19-player pool to 15 by the completion of camp on Friday. After taking nearly a two week moratorium, the remaining players will then compete in various exhibition games at the United Center and Madison Square Garden before the 12-man roster is finalized.
For the Pacers' star, his chances of making the squad as well as quite possibly being listed as a starter or earning additional minutes improved exponentially when USA Basketball received notice from Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kevin Love that they had all withdrawn themselves from consideration for Team USA's roster this summer:
While Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, and Paul Millsap will seemingly be the names immediately called upon to fill the void created in the middle, George's versatility and reputation as a highly talented two-way player will likely be seen as a hot commodity on a roster heavy on offensive star power and short on All-NBA capable defenders. Of the 19 players congregated in Vegas, Paul is the only player to have been named as an All-Star and selected to one of the NBA's All-Defensive teams. During the 2013-2014 season, George ranked 5th in the league in steals with 1.8 per game and was the league's only player to record at least 20 blocks, 150 steals, and 470 defensive rebounds.
With Team USA's thin front line and the game's increasing reluctance toward traditional line-ups in mind, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that USA Basketball's managing director told Yahoo he envisions Paul George possibly fulfilling a different role than that of which fans of the Pacers are currently accustomed:
Jerry Colangelo tells Yahoo he sees Chandler Parsons and Paul George as possible stretch four forwards internationally.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 26, 2014
Aiming to play more physical next season and improve his skills in the post, utilizing George as a stretch four in small-ball line-ups internationally will, perhaps, provide an early glimpse of some of what's in store for the Pacers during the upcoming season.
Speaking of previews, George is not expected to be the only Pacer in action when the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball commences on August 30. According to Pacers.com, along with Ian Mahinmi's addition to France's roster, newcomer Damjan Rudez has been included on Croatia's slate of names. While Luis Scola has long been considered a fixture of the Argentine national team, recent controversy surrounding the governing body of basketball in Argentina has made his, and perhaps his team's, participation in this summer's international competition considerably less definite.
For those interested in the progression of Team USA, scenes from Real Training Camp will air live on NBA TV tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET. At the conclusion of camp on Friday, a USA Blue versus USA White intrasquad scrimmage will be televised on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.