Team USA will embark on its quest to win the FIBA World Championships starting August 28 against Croatia. During the preliminary rounds, America’s squad should sweep its group (Group B) in dominating fashion. The best opponent they face off against is Brazil, ranked 14th in the world.
So what does that mean for JaVale McGee? Washington’s promising center was recently added to Team USA after Brook Lopez left due to sickness. It’s hard to tell how much Coach K will utilize McGee, but assuming Team USA blows out some of the squads in its group, JaVale could receive lots of minutes. Here’s a complete breakdown of his positional matchups.
Croatia, August 28
Rumor is Croatia’s best big man, Stanko Barac, will miss the World Championships with various injuries. If he does, Croatia loses lots of its frontcourt depth. Luka Zoric is an experienced option, but according to FIBA’s website, he only weighs 230 pounds. I’d suspect McGee will have plenty of garbage time minutes to prove his worth in this game.
Slovenia, August 29
Slovenia is led by up-and-coming Phoenix Suns PG Goran Dragic. They were supposed to have Sasha Vujacic and Beno Udrih, but apparently both players won’t be attending the World Championships.
Still, Slovenia has three current/former NBA players on the roster, and while they won’t beat Team USA, they could challenge the Americans for a few quarters. NBA center Primoz Brezec will start at center and is a proven commodity who won’t make too many mistakes. Considering Tyson Chandler and McGee are the only true centers on the roster, Brezec could put up some nice numbers. Slovenia also has Mirza Begic, who is listed at 7’3. I have no idea how well he plays, but that much height is tough to matchup with.
If Team USA obliterates Slovenia, McGee will get more garbage time minutes. My guess is the final score won’t be very close, but Coach K may opt to keep McGee out of action as much as possible against better competition.
Brazil, August 30
Brazil is the best team Team USA plays in the preliminary rounds. They are led by Leandro Barbosa, Nene, and Anderson Varejao. They also have Tiago Splitter, the new big man for the San Antonio Spurs.
Team America will win this game, but it could be closer than most are anticipating. Brazil is loaded in the frontcourt with Nene, Varejao, and Splitter, so I highly doubt McGee sees any sort of playing time. He doesn’t matchup well against any of those guys, who are all aggressive in the paint and much stronger than JaVale.
Iran, September 1
Iran has a 7’2 big man, Hamed Ehadadi, but he’s not good enough to compete with JaVale McGee. This game should be over by halftime, which means McGee should see plenty of minutes down the stretch.
Tunisia, September 2
Tunisia is one of the worst teams in the tournament (ranked 43rd in the world) and I foresee a 40-50 point win for Team USA. There’s no big man on the roster that could give McGee any trouble, and this might be his best shot to prove himself. It’s good timing, considering this is the last of Team USA’s preliminary games before they (hopefully) move on.
After the preliminary rounds, I’ll do a new post on McGee’s progress and his upcoming opponents. Go Team USA!
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