The World Cup of Basketball finally tips off on Saturday in Spain and concludes with the championship game on September 14. Even if Team USA isn't exactly fully loaded due to several notables missing the event, the talent and athletes available are more than enough to reach the final, if not cut down the nets (unless the Spanish national team says otherwise). As the journey begins, a viewer's guide to the key players on Team USA and upcoming foes in group play.
Anthony Davis - No LeBron James, no Kevin Durant, no Chris Paul. The showcase opportunity falls on the lengthy shot blocker with the smooth game and that unibrow thing. If you're wondering which player take baton from James and Durant as the next NBA uber-superstar, here you go.
Kyrie Irving - After starring in relative obscurity in Cleveland, the spotlight is now fully turned up thanks to arrivals of James and Kevin Love. But first, there will be loads of attention on Irving in Spain as the primary point guard thanks to Derrick Rose's knee concerns.
Kenneth Faried - Best bet to become a fan favorite thanks to the undersized power forward's relentless pursuit of the basketball off the rim or on the floor. That and Faried's overt enthusiasm. The Denver Nuggets' star might stand out as a pivotal member for Team USA. It will just work out like that.
DeMarcus Cousins - The offense isn't a concern; Once Durant withdrew from the team, Cousins became the top frontcourt scorer on the roster. How will "Boogie" react when tempers run hot, now that is worrisome.
Group C - Team USA opponents
Erik Murphy, Finland (Aug. 30) - The 6-foot-10 stretch-4 starred at the University of Florida, spent his rookie season with the Bulls and Jazz before being traded to the Cavaliers this summer.
Omer Asik/Emir Preldzic, Turkey (Aug. 31) - Asik and Davis will go head-to-head in Spain before joining forces in New Orleans to form a scary interior combo with the Pelicans next season. The Wizards owned the rights to the 6-foot-9 Preldzic before shipping them to the Mavericks for DeJuan Blair.
Kirk Penney, New Zealand (Sept 2) - Former University of Wisconsin shooting threat last played in the NBA during 2004-05 season.
Francisco Garcia, Dominican Republic (Sept. 3) - The 32-year-old swingman has nine years of NBA experience on his side, but that didn't help much earlier this month when Team USA beat DR by 43 points.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Ukraine (Sept 4) - Headed to play for the Kansas Jayhawks, the 17-year-old wing guard wowed Ukraine head coach Mike Fratello --yes, that Mike Fratello --during workouts to make the national team. We'll see how much he plays. Electric point guard Pooh Jeter will play tons.
Up next: The rest of the world
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