Warrior Fans To Get First Look At Their Newest Team Member
Dream Team 2016 makes it highly anticipated Oracle Arena debut Tuesday night.
No, not for the opening of Golden State Warriors training camp.
In fact, Kevin Durant and the All-American crew will be donned in the red, white and blue more resembling the Los Angeles Clippers than their Northern California counterparts when the USA hosts China in its third of five USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon exhibitions.
“I can’t wait. Can’t wait,” Durant said of the Oakland appearance. “I’m just looking forward to playing with these guys again. Any time I get a chance to step on the court with these players, I get better. So I’m looking forward to that.”
The USA Men's National Team surely has taken care of business so far, thumping Argentina 111-74 Friday in Las Vegas and China 106-57 Sunday in Los Angeles.
The goal in Oakland, according to coach Mike Krzyzewski: Get even better acquainted than in the previous two outings, when the team committed 24 turnovers and totaled only 53 assists on its 80 hoops.
“I think we are learning more about one another,” Krzyzewski noted, citing 29 assists against China after recording just 24 in the Argentina game. “We talked about … trying to get better. The way we won (Sunday’s game) was excellent.”
Warriors fans will get a first-hand view of Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson joining forces like they will during the 2016-17 NBA season.
“When you’re out there, you don’t even think about the fact that we’re teammates,” Green said of his Warriors mates, who have been on the court together only sparingly in the two exhibitions. “All I saw was USA across the chest.”
When last seen on the Oracle Arena court on June 19, the Warriors were losing Game 7 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers despite a brilliant performance by Green, who had 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
The stunning defeat prompted Golden State to go big-game hunting in the off-season, and the Warriors were able to land the summer’s biggest prize, Durant, with a two-year, $54.3 million offer.
As much as the Golden State faithful will enjoy rooting for Durant for the first time, they also will find themselves applauding the feats of rival big man DeMarcus Cousins of the nearby Sacramento Kings, antagonist DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers and NBA Finals hero Irving, whose last-minute 3-pointer was the difference-maker in the winner-take-all finale.
Cousins and Jordan have been particularly effective for the American squad so far, combining for 16.5 rebounds per game and 22.0 points on 18-for-25 (72.0 percent) shooting.
The club’s 2-0 start also has featured a team-high 21.0 points per game from Durant, deadly 3-point shooting (6-for-14, 42.9 percent) and 11.0 points per game from Carmelo Anthony, and 26 total steals, led by Paul George’s five.
“Just to be able to have the honor to be even thought about to represent the country, to represent a whole country, not just an organization, it’s crazy to think about,” admitted Jordan, who played before his hometown fans Sunday. “It’s really humbling. To be able to be out here with a great coaching staff, a great group of guys that are just really great character guys playing for something that represents our country is huge.”
China, which has been drawn into Group A along with the United State for pool play in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is led by 7-footer Yi Jianlian, a 28-year-old veteran of five NBA seasons from 2007-08 to 2011-12.
No member of the Chinese team currently plays in the NBA.
Yi had 18 points and seven rebounds, both team-highs, in Sunday’s game in Los Angeles.
The Chinese pose a unique challenge in that they stress balance over individual stardom, Krzyzewski noted.
“Obviously, we are more talented than them,” the legendary Duke coach observed. “They all impressed me because I like when people play hard and they play together.”
After the Oakland visit, the USA will host exhibitions in Chicago on July 29 against 2015 FIBA Americas champ Venezuela and in Houston on Aug. 1 against 2015 FIBA Africa champion Nigeria, before heading for Rio.
The Olympic men’s basketball competition begins on Aug. 6 with with the USA facing China.
Tuesday's USA - China exhibition is being televised live on NBA TV and streamed live on Facebook.