Paul George is slowly turning into a leader on Team USA, impressing the likes of Kevin Durant while playing 1-on-1 games against the reigning MVP and James Harden. Tonight, the team’s training camp comes to a close with a blue-and-white game, where all the invitees will square off before the roster gets cut down to the final 12.
George will certainly be on the final roster, and probably start for Team USA alongside Durant, Anthony Davis, and Derrick Rose once the FIBA World Cup begins in late August. (Full schedule here.)
Everyone surrounding the team has been impressed with George and Team USA leaders, including Jerry Colangelo and Coach K, have been watching PG rise since he joined the Select Team (essentially Team USA junior varsity) in 2012.
Here is a piece from USA Basketball on the value of George’s experiences with the program dating back to 2012.
The exact role George’s USA Basketball experiences have played in his precipitous rise is difficult to quantify but there’s no doubt it’s been a factor. Simply spending time around the other talented players and coaches would make just about anyone a better player, so when a guy like George really buys in to the lessons and the environment around the organization that impact becomes even greater.
“It’s all a process and it’s made huge strides for a lot of our games,” George said.
George is one of seven players on the 19-man National Team roster who started two years ago with the Select Team and returned last year for mini-camp. Other guys like Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson will likely join George at the World Cup in Spain, but more than anyone else from that group, George has put himself on another level.
Part of the reason for that, George said, is the bond that he’s developed with everyone else at USA Basketball. It’s that type of feeling that Krzyzewski has always tried to create.
“We feel that USA Basketball, and the word is used a lot, is a family,” Krzyzewski said. “It should be a little bit of a safe haven for being yourself, getting better, developing relationships with different guys in the league.”
As in their 1-on-1 outings, George will again be facing off against Durant and Harden, who will lead the white team.
You can’t like going up against the MVP, but if George, Rose, Davis, and Steph Curry are on the other side, my money’s on blue.
ESPN will also televise a host of other Team USA happenings in the lead up to the World Cup. Here is a full list, courtesy of Team USA.