Five thoughts about Saturday's Team USA intra-squad showcase in Las Vegas
Kevin Durant looks much more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He showed an increased ability to read and react to coverages and looked relaxed and confident while running pick-and-rolls, often making the right play as the ball-handler. Thunder coach Scott Brooks wants to put the ball in Durant's hands in similar positions with the Thunder this season. And with a lights-out shooter who stands 6-foot-11 orchestrating the offense from the top of the key, the entire team will become much more dangerous.
Durant played power forward for the undersized Team USA squad, and it provided a glimpse into how effective he could soon be in the NBA season in spots at that position. He'll need to get stronger, but being closer to the basket turns him into an all-around threat much like he was at Texas. He rebounds more, gets easy putbacks and can start the fast break if he corrals a board or a loose ball.
Russell Westbrook isn't likely to have the quintessential point guard duties for Team USA if he makes the cut for the FIBA World Championship. Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups and Rajon Rondo figure to get those responsibilities. Westbroook was used as more of an off-guard but one that still can create for himself and others when the ball is swung his way, while also serving as an alternate or even emergency ball-handler.
Kevin Love might have played Jeff Green out of a place on this summer's roster. Team USA's coaching staff loves Green's versatility, but Green struggled to knock down perimeter shots and had trouble defending Durant on the perimeter and bigger opponents on the low block. Green seemingly must now beat out Gerald Wallace and Danny Granger.
The U.S. team could be in trouble if its shooters go cold in Turkey. Without Amar'e Stoudemire or David Lee, Team USA doesn't have many low-post scoring options. Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler won't provide consistent paint points, and the always-dreaded foul trouble could render even those two powerless. That aspect will be worth watching in the World Championship as it could determine Team USA's fate.