Now that the Las Vegas Summer League is winding down, it doesn't mean the end of basketball as the U.S. National team gears up for a mini camp that runs from July 22 thru July 25. Unfortunately, this is not the main team so there will be no Chris Paul, no Blake Griffin, and no other major player from the 2012 Olympic team. These are players that Team USA wants to take a look at to fill roles in the future. So you can look at this as Team USA Summer League but with actual NBA talent.
Just like with the Olympic team, the Clippers have a potential member on the team with DeAndre Jordan selected to try out. While he won't be getting a chance to work with some of the top players in the game, it will still be a good experience for DJ as he will be working with world class coaches in Coach K, Jim Boeheim, Tom Thibodeau, and Monty Williams. He will also be competing against some pretty good big men in DeMarcus Cousins, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Larry Sanders, and Tyler Zeller. Those are some impressive bigs with a wide variety of skills, in various degrees of development.
Needless to say this is a great opportunity for DJ to grow. With Thibs being part of the team, it is my hope that DJ gets an early introduction into the type of defense that will be deployed by the Clippers this season. With a no nonsense coach like Coach K, hopefully DJ can begin to build the foundations to take his game in a whole new direction. Something I did notice about the group of coaches is that they are all defensive coaches. This bodes well for DJ who tends to have lapses in his defensive concentration. And having to bang with guys like DMC, Monroe, Drummond, defend the wing against Anderson and Zeller, and battle for boards with Faried, Sanders, and Davis will hopefully bring out the best in him.
This is an important off season for Jordan to say the least. Doc Rivers has already anointed him as part of the Clippers big three along with Blake and Chris. He was given a 4 year $43 million contract, which, up to this point, he has not lived up to. With only two years remaining on his contract the onus is on him to take the next step forward. He has improved each season he's been in the league, but his free throws took a nose dive this season and he let those failures affect his game. Hopefully, with this new start DJ can grown into the player some hope he would. And it all starts at Team USA camp.