In case NBA summer league didn’t provide enough of an excuse for players to visit Las Vegas, Team USA is also hosting a minicamp there this week. Convenient. There isn’t much competition set up over the three-day span; in fact, members of the national squad won’t even be playing an exhibition game. The minicamp will only feature practices and meetings and serve as the official shift from former Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski to his successor, Gregg Popovich. (Are we even sure this guy can coach??)
Team USA won’t face actual competition until August 31 of next year, when they travel to China for the recently renamed FIBA Basketball World Cup. The roster is 35 deep now, but eventually will be shaved down to 12 players before the Cup. Many of the big-name players, like LeBron James and Steph Curry, won’t be in attendance this week since international competition is so far away, but there’s still a smorgasbord of characters remaining so here are the anticipated superlatives for the members of the minicamp roster:
(Disclaimer: Draymond Green won’t be in Vegas, so we’ve taken Most Likely to Accidentally Send Nudes Worldwide off the list.)
Most Likely to Get the Most Shots Off: Devin Booker
Booker is the youngest player on the roster, so he could feel pressure to prove himself by jacking up shots; he averaged nearly 20 field goal attempts last season, and became the youngest person to drop 70 points in a game the season prior. Plus, he’s in Vegas, and [checks I.D.] is now 21. There are many kinds of shots to be taken, my friends.
Most Likely to Ask the Bouncer to Double-Check for his Name on the List: Isaiah Thomas
Maybe Kyrie Irving can vouch for him to get him into the gym?
Most Likely to Turn a Practice Into a Competition: Russell Westbrook
This superlative was supposed to go to Jimmy Butler, whose intensity has elevated to legendary levels. (When he was in Chicago, Butler beefed with everyone 25-and-under in the locker room because he felt they weren’t giving it their all. Last season in Minnesota, Butler reportedly had issues with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns not trying.) But because Butler won’t be at the camp, his runner-up and compadre in everyday ferocity, Russ, can step in.
Most Likely to Feel Disrespected Even Though the Team Hasn’t Made Cuts Yet: John Wall
Stay … Me7o? Maybe this is Wall officially taking Klay Thompson’s place as Most Likely to Make a Walgreens Run for Eyedrops.
Most Likely to Not Show Up: Kawhi Leonard
It’s already been established that Kawhi won’t be attending the minicamp, but in case there was any doubt, let’s remember the following:
1. He asked to be traded from the Spurs, effectively asking to leave Popovich.
2. Popovich is coaching Team USA, thus will be at the minicamp.
3. DeMar DeRozan, who felt extremely bitter about being traded away from Toronto for Kawhi, is attending the minicamp.
4. Kawhi would have to talk to the media at the minicamp.
5. Kawhi isn’t much of a talker.
6. Kawhi hates Vegas.
7. I made the last one up. But I’m starting to believe he hates anywhere that isn’t L.A.
Most Likely to Pick Up the Tab at Dinner: Kevin Love
Love just inked a four-year, $120 million extension with Cleveland. That’s not to say other guys attending aren’t making more—Kevin Durant is there—but the contract also means that the Cavs think of Love as a centerpiece: He’s fiddle no. 1, and he’s going to buy steak dinners like a team leader.
Most Likely to Hold Nightly Interventions: C.J. McCollum
So,I would get into a gang fight, lose, plot on my brother for 2 months in our home and then go get the gang we lost to and beat him up? U think that low of me CJ? I just did your fuckin podcast. Snakes in the grass boy I tell ya— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 26, 2018