After both practiced and played at a Team U.S.A. minicamp in Las Vegas over the last week, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo have some clarity about who could play in Turkey for the FIBA World Championships this summer. Rudy will continue with the team to the next, 15-player minicamp in New York. O.J. Mayo is joining Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, and JaVale McGee on the cut list.
Rudy will have to keep playing well if he wants to go to Istanbul, though. Another forward, Kevin Durant, is clearly the star of the team, and Danny Granger and Andre Iguodala are excellent players in their own right.
O.J. Mayo was pushed out by five point guards (Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry) and Eric Gordon, the only other true "shooter" on the roster in Vegas.
All of these younger stars, with the exception of Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom, have the opportunity to play in the World Championships this summer because none of the Olympic "Redeem Team" is playing with Team U.S.A. this summer.
I know the Blue-White Scrimmage is just a pinch of what Team U.S.A. bosses Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski use as an evaluation tool, but if the pickup game aired on ESPN2 had any bearing, it should be no surprise that Rudy Gay made the next team cut and O.J. Mayo did not.
For two years running Rudy has led the losing team in scoring. Grizzlies fans who've seen Rudy's shot selection in action might wonder if they're losing because Rudy's the leading scorer. That's not the case. They've lost because Rudy has played against Kevin Durant in both matchups, although this year he lined up against Andre Iguodala and seemed to be playing shooting guard more than forward.
Anyhow while Rudy looked good, O.J. looked pretty one dimensional. I know he scored 17 points, but 6 or so were breakaways off someone else's steal. Without those easy scores, O.J. pretty much left Coach K with several air-balls from a shorter international arc, no ball movement, and the worst defense of the guards.
Lots of people have wondered how Eric Gordon makes the team over O.J. Mayo. Look O.J. is a good player, but there is nothing about his game that screams, "Role Player." Yes, he would be an awesome 8th man in terms of pure talent in the NBA, but this is like a young-stars All-Star team. OJAM just doesn't bring the spot up shooting, toughness, or no-frills mentality of Gordon.
Mayo is, first and foremost, an isolation scorer. Unfortunately so is Kevin Durant. Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose score in isolation too. All three of those guys are better players, it's as simple as that.