After looking healthy and dynamic in Friday night's Team USA exhibition-game win over Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Bulls superstar Derrick Rose was named to the 12-man USA Basketball roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
Rose missed Wednesday's victory over the Dominican Republic following three days of rest in the aftermath of his return to the United Center in last Saturday's Team USA win over Brazil. Between reports of knee soreness and the point guard's own admission of fatigue, whether or not he should or would continue to play for the national team became a matter of debate. The point guard, who started in the Brazil matchup and on the 2010 FIBA World Championships gold-medal squad, came off the bench behind Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Kyrie Irving in Friday's game and at the moment, it's unknown if that trend will continue, given his previous inability to practice after Saturday's game, the team's need for continuity and after Tuesday's exhibition finale against Slovenia in the Canary Islands, a grueling upcoming pool-play schedule beginning next Saturday in Bilbao, Spain.
But generally, there's a feeling of relief that Rose is playing at all, as the Chicago native has only suited up for 10 NBA regular-season games in the past two campaigns. And with Bulls' training camp approaching at the end of September, the inaugural World Cup is seen as a solid proving ground for his professional duties.
Regardless of who starts, Rose and Irving will probably see the bulk of the minutes at point guard, with Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry playing both backcourt positions, but likely starting at shooting guard. Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden is penciled into the starting small-forward position, with swingmen like Curry's "Splash Brothers" teammate Klay Thompson and Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan providing depth on the wing. Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried emerged as a favorite of the coaching staff and appears to have solidified a spot in the starting lineup, backed up by late addition Rudy Gay of the Sacramento Kings, a natural small forward.
New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis has always been a lock to start at center, but backing up the Chicagoan is a surprising committee of three: Gay's teammate DeMarcus Cousins, 20-year-old Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and Brooklyn Nets big man Mason Plumlee, who started off the team's Las Vegas training camp with the Select Team. The trio of backup centers is more of a reflection of none of the group standing out from the pack, as well as a need to be prepared for the size and talent of host country Spain's big man in a potential Sept. 14 gold-medal game, with the likes of new Bulls big man Pau Gasol, his brother and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc of the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder shot-blocker Serge Ibaka looming.
The players who didn't make the final roster were: former Bulls fan favorite Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard and small forwards Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz and Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks.