The USA Basketball men's national team beat Argentina on Friday, 111-74 in their first friendly of 2016 in Las Vegas. Warriors forward Kevin Durant led the way with 23 points in the victory. Pacers forward Paul George also added 18 off the bench.
The Americans are in Los Angeles today to face China. They will play China once again on Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
When: Sunday, July 24, 8 p.m. ET
FIBA Rankings: USA is #1, China is #14
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Here is the roster for Team USA:
|Carmelo Anthony||New York Knicks||F|
|Harrison Barnes||Dallas Mavericks||F|
|Jimmy Butler||Chicago Bulls||F|
|DeMarcus Cousins||Sacramento Kings||C|
|DeMar DeRozan||Toronto Raptors||G|
|Kevin Durant||Golden State Warriors||F|
|Paul George||Indiana Pacers||F|
|Draymond Green||Golden State Warriors||F|
|Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers||G|
|DeAndre Jordan||Los Angeles Clippers||C|
|Kyle Lowry||Toronto Raptors||G|
|Klay Thompson||Golden State Warriors||G|
And here is the roster for Team China. Surnames are listed first.
|Zhao Jiwei||Liaoning Jiebao Hunters (CBA)||G|
|Sui Ran||Shandong Flaming Bulls (CBA)||G|
|Guo Ailun||Liaoning Jiebao Hunters (CBA)||G|
|Ding Yanyuhang||Shandong Flaming Bulls (CBA)||F|
|Zhai Xiaochuan||Shougang Beijing Ducks (CBA)||F|
|Zhou Peng||Guangdong Southern Tigers (CBA)||F|
|Yi Jianlian||Guangdong Southern Tigers (CBA)||F|
|Li Gen||Xinjiang Flying Tigers (CBA)||F|
|Li Muhao||Dongguan N.C. Leopards (CBA)||C|
|Zou Yuchen||Bayi Rockets (CBA)||F|
|Zhou Qi||Xinjiang Flying Tigers (CBA)||C|
|Wang Zhelin||Fujian Quanzhou Bank (CBA)||C|
What to watch for
This is a team with more youth than the Americans - On Friday, I said that the Argentines were an old bunch because four players, including Spurs star Manu Ginobili were in their mid or late 30's. Team China is the exact opposite. Their average age is 23. In fact, their oldest player is former Wizards player Yi Jianlian, who is at the "ripe old age" of 28.
Despite their young age, the Chinese won the FIBA Asia Championship last year - In recent years, we've seen countries like the Philippines and Iran contend with China for the Asian title. In fact, Iran has won three of the last five Asian championships. However, Team China won the 2015 title on their homecourt to deny the Philippines their first Asian championship since 1973.
There are multiple 2016 NBA Draft picks on this team - Former Wizards forward Yi Jianlian is the star of the Chinese national team, but he's not the player you should keep a closer eye on because two Chinese players were picked in the second round of this year's draft.
First, keep an eye on center Zhou Qi, who was the 43rd pick in the 2016 NBA Draft to the Rockets and played alongside Team Philippines forward Andray Blatche (another former Wizard) on the Xianjiang Flying Tigers last season in the CBA. Zhou is just 20 years old and is a shot blocking machine, though he certainly needs to bulk up before playing in the NBA.
Second, keep an eye on Wang Zhelin who is the 57th pick in the Draft to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 22-year-old center has averaged at least 20 points and 11 rebounds per game for Fujian in the first three years of his CBA career. Last season, he was not as effective due to injuries. Granted, he needs to bulk up some and those numbers won't hold in the NBA, but he still has a lot of potential and could be on an NBA roster in the not too distant future.
Any other players to keep an eye on? Guo Ailun has been one of China's biggest perimeter threats. The 22-year-old had some strong performances in the FIBA Asia Championship last year and has played on the senior national team since the 2010 FIBA World Championships when he was just 16.
Team USA should win this one comfortably. I write "should" because people are playing, not robots.
The Chinese have an up-and-coming squad in the world ranks and they could very well win a FIBA World Cup or an Olympic medal in the next decade. But they are in an uphill battle against a more talented and more experienced American team where no one player is past his prime.