DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green Making An Impact For USA
- Las Vegas
After four days of workouts, the USA Basketball Men’s National Team’s quest for gold at the Rio Olympic Games ramps up with an exhibition game against Argentina at T-Mobile Arena (6 p.m. PDT / NBA TV). As always, the goal is clear.
“We want to win. We want to send a message,” Carmelo Anthony said. “Our first time that we can do that is Friday night.”
How this year’s roster will go about that will start to come into focus with this game, the first of five exhibitions across the country before the team travels to Brazil. But based on training camp so far, it’s fair to guess that DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green will each have big roles to play.
“When I talk about DeMarcus, you have to talk about DeAndre and you also have to talk about (Green), because we have more depth at the 5 than we’ve had in previous teams,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Cousins, listed at 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, and Jordan (6-11, 265) are both built like prototypical big men and it’s unlikely they’ll be in the same lineup. Meanwhile, the emergence of Green (6-7, 223) as an undersized center for the Golden State Warriors has in many ways revolutionized the current NBA, and Krzyzewski plans to lean on those strengths as well.
“Draymond brings us as versatile a player and as outstanding a player as you can have,” Krzyzewski said. “He — not just what he does physically, but in how he leads, his emotion — he brings the intangibles and the tangibles. And so, the versatility, you can play him at a number of different spots.”
Two years ago, Green and Jordan were on the USA Select Team that helped Cousins and the rest of the 2014 roster prepare for a gold-medal run at the FIBA World Cup. Now they’ve moved up not only to the top roster, but into roles where they will be counted on to win games.
“It’s something that you don’t take for granted,” Green said. “You’re working hard your whole life for this and to have the opportunity is special.”
Jordan, especially, has impressed the coaching staff during camp. Krzyzewski called his ball-screen defense vital and assistant coach Jim Boeheim spent extra time on Wednesday and Thursday working with Jordan on free throws.
“Unequivocally, he’s worked harder than everybody we’ve ever had in practice,” Boeheim said. “… He busts his tail every day. We put the zone in, he didn’t even realize what he was doing and some of it he did better than guys I’ve taught the zone to for a long time.”
At only 25 years old, Cousins is building up a healthy USA Basketball resume. He already has two medals — gold in 2014 and a silver from a 2007 Men’s Youth Development Festival — and adding another next month could further entrench him as one of the future faces of the program.
“He’s totally invested in what we’re doing, and he doesn’t have to pace himself,” Krzyzewski said. “Whether he starts or comes off the bench, these guys can give us four minutes, five minutes, whatever it is and go all out.”
It’s a luxury to be this deep at a position and it’s one Krzyzewski plans to utilize. No matter whose turn it is, he’s confident in each of their abilities to fill the need and rise to the occasion, because that’s the way USA Basketball likes to do it.
“The only way we’re going to do this,” Cousins said, “is together.”