Updated: July 24, 2009, 9:48 AM ET
Durant singled out for praise
By Chris Sheridan
LAS VEGAS -- Pencil in Kevin Durant for a spot on the 2010 version of Team USA.
Better yet, put it in ink.
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski singled out Durant and showered him with praise following the first day of a three-day mini-camp for a group of 20 young players trying to make the senior national team.
Durant was the most dominant player on the floor in the team's 12-minute scrimmage after the squad spent the bulk of Thursday's practice working on drills. Friday's practice was expected to be more focused on scrimmaging.
"Everyone who was watching from our group said you could tell that Durant was a little bit on a mission -- and that's good for them to see that, it picks everybody up," Krzyzewski said. "He's that versatility guy, and the other thing is he's a shooter, and with the way we were playing defense for most of the Olympics, with his length, he could be a heck of a defender.
"So he's really at the head of the list for me," Krzyzewski said.
Durant was given serious consideration for the 12th and final roster spot on the Redeem Team that won the gold medal in Beijing, part of a threesome that also included Tayshaun Prince and Tyson Chandler.
Prince ended up getting the spot, and eventually moved ahead of Carlos Boozer in the rotation.
Durant, along with Andre Iguodala and Jeff Green, is now back for his third consecutive summer of practices with the so-called Select Team, and his familiarity and comfort level with the Team USA system were superior to that of anyone else on the court Thursday. Others who caught the coaches' eyes included Rudy Gay, Derrick Rose, ERIC GORDON and JaVale McGee, and several team insiders said they were surprised how spry Greg Oden looked.
Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo and the coaching staff are concentrating on three areas where they expect to have to fill out the roster -- a third point guard to play behind Deron Williams and Chris Paul, an extra big man with the combination of quickness, defensive intensity and shooting range to play inside or outside, and a Mr. Versatility who would have the ability to spell LeBron James at the power forward spot, Carmelo Anthony at small forward, and Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade at shooting guard.
Durant fits the bill for that third guy.
"The more versatile team you have, especially at 3 and 4, when they can do both that adds a lot because so many of the international players play away from the basket and are really perimeter players," Krzyzewski said. "And the big guys, we try to envision if we got all the guys back, who would complement the guys that we have.
"That's why I'm putting him at the head, because I know him the best, and then he comes out and he's terrific [in practice]. Plus his attitude and commitment, he's made a hell of a commitment each summer, three in a row."
Next summer will be No. 4 in a row, and from the sound of things, Durant can expect to have his passport stamped with a Turkish visa when team USA heads overseas 13 months to attempt to win the World Championship for the first time since 1994.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
My boy Eric Gordon is receiving love!
I hope gordon and the clippers do well next year just so you'll be happy lol u might die and go to heaven if the clippers make the playoffs
Iguodala better make it! I want Durant to make it too
would be a defensive specialist, he needs to improve his handle/ jumper
Iguodala can handle the ball..
D-Rose should make it for sure if he doesnt thats a huge mistake as well as K.D.
He went to play summer league when he didnt have to,to work on his game...He wasnt shooting many three pointers,instead he was working on his mid range game and adding a post up game,he played lock down defense on Adam Morrison when they played the Lakers and seemed to being letting more of his personality out...Last year he came across as quiet and almost shy! Be intresting to see if he takes his game to another level now with Zach Randolph gone and EJ will probably be the number one option on offense
in 5 years.
it will be
as the top five players in the league.
I'm glad that players are wanting to play for team USA and that they are going out of there way to try and make a team to do so. I love that, and of course my boy KD gets his spot. I see him as unguardable in 3-4 years, literally. It some what bothers me coach K puts so much effort into this (because Duke has been blowing as of late ), but hey, he needs to win somewhere. So why not the world stage?
Who the hell is EJ? Eric Gordon?
You can definitely tell EJ is more comfortable. I think a lot of it has to do with him having one full season of experience under his belt. He knows what to expect now. He's also more comfortable with his teammates. He knows DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin really well. Truth is, he's pretty quiet and shy until he gets comfortable. He's a funny kid though lol.
knicksfreak... EJ is his nickname. It stands for Eric Jr.
Yeah one thing id like to see him become is more aggressive on the offense end and demand the ball more...There were games last year where he was started out strong or got into a good groove,but then he would dissapear for stretches...Some of that had to do with Zach Randolph being a black hole and only looking out for himself,and Baron Davis being Baron Davis!!
BTW...He's an absolutly under rated defender...I think he was third among all shooting guards in block shots,behind D Wade and i think....Rasul(spelling) Butler
You either live in L.A. or keep up with the Clippers, because you're on point.
His rookie year in the NBA reminded me of his freshman year in high school. He could've easily taken over and been the go-to player during his freshman year, but he played his role. He was on a senior heavy team, which featured Indiana's Mr. Basketball and another guy who was an Indiana All-Star. His sophomore season was a different story though. There were still a couple of seniors on the team, so he didn't assume complete leadership duties yet, but he was the go-to offensive player on the team. His scoring average jumped from 13.5 as a freshman to 26 as a sophomore. His junior year there were no seniors on the team and he completely took over in every aspect of the game. The same can be said for his senior season.
Last season in the NBA, he played his role behind Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman... The vets. However just like in high school, I believe he'll take a huge step up his second year. If you pay attention to him now, you can already see it in his confidence level. You can see it in the way he talks. He's about to break out lol.
He is an underrated defender, which is what I argue with people about all the time. I'm glad you brought that up, especially the blocked shots. People are quick to say Mayo and Westbrook are better defenders than him, but I don't think so. It's closer than they think lol.