Mike Krzyzewski doesn't need to have his 12-man USA Basketball roster for the upcoming world championships finalized until Aug. 26. He's got plenty of time to deliberate over what constitutes the perfect team for the international game — and while he's taking his time to think, there are two young two-guards biting their nails in anticipation.
Stephen Curry, all of 22 years old, and Eric Gordon, 21, may be seen as two of the more expendable pieces on Coach K's 15-man roster. Neither has the decorated resume of a Chauncey Billups, the crazy athleticism of a Rajon Rondo or the dominating raw scoring ability of a Kevin Durant. They're auxiliary pieces — they won't be on the floor for the opening tip and they won't be there in crunch time, but they each have something they can bring to the table.
Curry is a deadly outside shooter who can space the floor, and he never ceases to make smart heads-up defensive plays, reading opposing passers like a cornerback on a football field. Gordon is a multi-faceted scorer who can help the Americans put points on the board — he'll never be the first option for Team USA by any means, but he's a constant threat and a good guy to have on your side.
Each guy has something to offer, but each is overshadowed by the plethora of able-bodied point guards on Coach K's roster. Billups, Rondo, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are four of the biggest stars on Team USA, and they're what make the squad go. This isn't just a guard-driven team — more specifically, it's a point guard-driven team. Curry and Gordon are merely afterthoughts.
The two youngsters have three more weeks to fret about the question that must be eating them alive: Will they make the team? Or will Coach K send them both packing, headed home after weeks of hard work gone to waste?
On paper, neither of them look safe to get a roster spot. They don't have the accolades of Billups, Rondo, Durant, or even Lamar Odom or Andre Iguodala. They're relative unknowns on the international stage.
But this game isn't played on paper.
Coach K's decision won't be about who's won the most awards or piled up the biggest numbers. In fact, it won't even be entirely about talent — if it were, you probably wouldn't have seen Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace or O.J. Mayo cut from the roster already. With Team USA, it's about fit. It's about finding the right player to complement the rest of the team.
To that end, Curry is probably a good bet to end up in Turkey at the end of this month with the national team. He's a role player in the truest sense — he does the little things, he hits the big shot when it's asked of him, and he never tries to do too much. Every bench should have a Stephen Curry.
As for Gordon, he's a talented scorer, and he'd definitely add a little something to Team USA if chosen. But the Americans have plenty of scoring already — that's where Durant, Rudy Gay and possibly Danny Granger come in. Gordon may wind up being redundant on this roster.
Coach K has some interesting decisions ahead in the coming weeks. His Team USA isn't like the original Dream Team back in 1992, with stars everywhere you'd look — Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird. This team is coming in as an underdog of sorts, and it'll have to win with intelligence and finesse, not just star power.
It's up to Coach K to decide whether these two guys fit. Either way, he's going to have a guard-heavy team, but he's got to figure out how heavy a role these two guards could play.