By RJ Young
Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook are headlining Team USA training camp. This team though, has no semblance of the 2008 Redeem Team that won gold in Beijing just two summers ago and is in search of a new leader.
Durant has been called the “centerpiece” of this year’s World Championship team by Team USA director and former NBA executive Jerry Colangelo. Expect him to play a key role in August at the World Championships.
Westbrook is battling two consecutive draft years of stellar point guards for the right to wear the red, white and blue U-S-A across his chest this August. Of the three Thunder members invited to camp, Westbrook will have the most work ahead of him as he is in competition with Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups for a position on the squad.
Green will have to make his presence known as dominant rebounder and scorer who can roll to the basket. This USA team lacks depth in the front court and will likely use the pick and roll as a primary weapon in its offensive arsenal to play to the strengths of its talented back court.
While the core trio of the Oklahoma City Thunder is away at USA Basketball training camp, trying to earn a spot on the 2010 World Championship roster, Sam Presti announced the signing of Royal Ivey.
A, 6-foot-4 guard out of the University of Texas, Ivey was the second round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks. In his six years in the NBA, Ivey has seen time with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. He has averaged 3.6points and 1.2 assists so far in his career.
Ivey’s defensive prowess and his career 40.7 three-point shooting percentage will offer assistance to a team that was ranked 24th in the league last year in three-point shooting and did not have a single player average 40 percent or better from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant led the team in three-point shooting netting 37.5 percent of his three-point attempts.
Thunder general manager, Sam Presti, eloquently stated in an AP report what he expects from Ivey in the future.
“We are pleased to welcome Royal to the Thunder organization,” Presti said. “His defensive mentality, competitiveness and well documented professionalism adds depth to our backcourt and strengthens the identity of our basketball team.”
Ivey has yet to notch a 20 point scoring performance. His career scoring high is 19 points in January 2008 game against the New Jersey Nets.
Ivey has averaged 13.1 minutes per game in 378 games in the NBA. Last season as a member of the Bucks and 76ers, Ivey averaged just 2.1 points per game and 5.6 minutes per game.
Ivey will be added to the mix of an already crowded back court featuring Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden, Morris Peterson and Daequan Cook.
The six year veteran will have to prove his mettle during the Thunder’s training camp, but can take solace in the fact that at 28 years old he is already one of the elder statesmen on a very young and talented team.