This week USA Basketball has conducted a mini-camp to look for players to fill their roster for the 2014 World Championships, as well as the 2016 Olympics. Some of the best young players in the NBA were invited, as well as collegiate studs Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott. Many of these guys are nowhere near their prime, and have shown in the last season or two how bright their futures are. This led me to make a tough decision on what will be called the “Sky Is The Limit Team”. These are five guys who have shown signs of potential greatness, and the ability to keep the NBA, and USA Basketball at a high level for years to come. Without any further adieu, here is the “Future Five”.
PG- Kyrie Irving- After playing only eleven games at Duke, Kyrie Irving was still taken as the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some were skeptical that he was worth that pick with such a small body of work on the college level. He dispelled that notion with a Rookie of the Year campaign. He followed it up in his second year with a performance that earned him a spot in the All-Star game, and talk that he is rising quickly in the conversation as one of the best point guards in the League. He has shown an ability to score, and create for others as well. With better pieces around him coming into the 2013-14 season, it will be interesting to see how far his leadership can take the Cavs in what is a weak Eastern Conference once you get past the top four teams. Should he stay healthy, and avoid the injuries that have caused him to miss multiple games in each of his first two seasons, he is on a fast track to being a superstar in the NBA.
SG- Paul George- This young man is the captain of the team. A starter throughout his three year career, George exploded in the 2012-13 season. With Danny Granger out injured, George took the reins of the Pacers, and ran with them. He had career high averages in every statistical category, en route to an All-Star appearance, and being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Being a Pacer, many casual fans were not aware of just how good he could be. The NBA Playoffs, especially his performance in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat changed that. For six games, he played on a superstar level. He showed no fear of LeBron, and matched him play for play. It was a special thing to watch, and served notice to the rest of the league that George, and the Pacers are coming. This guy is the epitome of this team, and it will be entertaining to watch him grow into his superstardom.
SF- Kawhi Leonard- This guy would be the glue guy of the team. He just goes out, plays no frills basketball, and helps his team win. He will be one of those players that casual fans may never appreciate, but die-hards love to watch play. Similar to the organization he plays for. Kawhi Leonard had a solid season for the San Antonio Spurs. He showed all season that he is willing to do all the things that are needed to help his team win. Need a big rebound? Kawhi will get it. Need a big shot, whether a three, or drive to the basket? Kawhi will knock it down. Need the best perimeter player on the other team defended? Put Kawhi on him. Leonard showed all playoffs that he is someone the Spurs can build around as the Big 3 era comes to an end. He has a quiet demeanor, however, his game is anything but quiet. Anyone who watched Game 7 of the Finals knows that this guy has the chance to be special. He may never be the commercial superstar that others on this team will be, but on the court, his ceiling is very high, and his star will shine bright for years to come.
PF- Greg Monroe- Greg Monroe is usually plays center for the Pistons, but for the sake of this team, we will slot him as a power forward. Monroe is another player who has watched his numbers increase throughout his career. Coming from Georgetown, he has shown a great ability on the offensive end to be a threat as a scorer, and passer from the post. He needs to work on his game on the defensive end, and continue to grow there. Working with new Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace should help him with that. Monroe has the tools to become a great big man in the League for years to come. The thought here is that he will do just that.
C- Andre Drummond- Finally, we get to the center on our team. Drummond is the most raw of all the players mentioned so far. He is an athletic monster who is still learning to play the game. His offensive game leaves a lot to be desired, but with his physical tools, he should be able to improve that. Rasheed Wallace will help Drummond with that, just as he will help Monroe on the defensive end. Defensively, Drummond has the potential to be a shot-blocking, rebounding machine. He is blessed with length and athleticism that once he harnesses, and learns to use correctly, will give the NBA fits. The Pistons will eventually have to make a move on whether or not they want to keep Monroe or Drummond. Based on their ceilings, Drummond should be the one they keep.
Well there you have it, “The Sky Is The Limit team”. There are many players that could have been on here, yet, the choice was made to keep it to a starting five. Feel free to comment here or on Twitter, and let me know who you would add to the team.