Team USA 2016 Men's Olympic Basketball Camp Day Three Practice Report: 'Melo shows leadership on D

July 21, 2016

Reporting from Las Vegas -- As the United States Men's National Basketball Team's pre-Olympic training camp continued in Las Vegas, things again heated up on the court in the desert. Day Three of training camp saw Team USA's emphasis on the defensive side of things begin to really pay dividends, as throughout the day the Olympic squad, to a man, seemed to be much more enthusiastic about making plays on defense.

In a development that may be seen as surprising, or even shocking to some, the renewed defensive commitment all began and ended with the unquestioned leader and "Alpha Dog" on this year's team, Carmelo Anthony, as on more than one occasion he could be seen making the kind of heady, scrappy defensive plays that would normally be made by a backup rotation player desperately trying to make the team.

"Well Carmelo has been great," said Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski.  "I love Carmelo. He's been a warrior for us and second leading scorer in London . . . where he came off the bench, because he thought that would be better. He's been a starter, came off the bench, and now its his turn to be a leader . . . along with KD but Carmelo's just more vocal, and I'm happy he's here doing that because he makes everybody better, he's been unbelievable these past three days."

Anthony's effort certainly seemed to have a trickle down-type effect, as before long, several of his teammates, including DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Paul George, all were getting into the act.

The direct effect of this ramped-up defensive intensity was seen in the amount of turnovers and errant passes made by their backcourt counterparts on the U.S. Select Team. In what could now be justifiably called a recurring theme, Devin Booker, D'Angelo Russell, and Denzel Valentine were all harassed into making questionable decisions. On this day at least, the most composed guard for the youngsters was Denver Nuggets soon-to-be second year man Emmanuel Mudiay.

As for the USA White team, in a surprising move to most in attendance, coach Krzyzewski elected to go with a huge lineup featuring Kyrie Irving at the point, flanked by the 6'11" Kevin Durant, the 6'8" Draymond Green, the 6'9" Carmelo Anthony, and the 6'11" DeMarcus Cousins at the pivot. This was most noteworthy in that it didn't feature what most would consider a traditional shooting guard.

When asked after practice about this particular lineup being devoid of a true "two," and its plausibility going forward, Coach K intimated that he will continue to experiment with variations of different lineups up until and even during the Olympics, depending on circumstances.

"For this five-game tour, there will be different lineups," said Krzyzewski.  "There won't be any messages sent by who was starting . . . we just want to take a look at (different) combinations."

Post Practice Report

As they have been throughout the week, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and several players were gracious enough to speak on a number of topics following practice:

Coach K addressing Draymond Green's off-season incident in Michigan

"I like having emotional people.  In fact, I would rather have emotional people, who sometimes make small mistakes then to have non-emotional people . . . so we'll be fine. We're happy to have him [Draymond Green]."

Coach K on his outlook after Day 3 of camp

"We've had three outstanding days, so tomorrow . . . there won't be any contact tomorrow [Thursday] it'll be a short workout, we need to get them [time] to recover. Even at the end, they had an impromptu scrimmage. I just told the guys 'if you want to get some extra conditioning in, do that, or shoot,' so that was like freebie time."

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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