Perkins could provide all-world defense for Team USA
|02.10.10 at 2:39 pm ET|
When Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski were forming the potential pool of players for Team USA, they were looking for a “true center” who could guard potential big men all around the world.
They may have found that man in Kendrick Perkins.
On Wednesday, Perkins was named to the 27-man roster that is eligible to compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and, if the team qualifies, in the 2012 London Olympics. The 27 players will be invited to a July mini-camp in Las Vegas, where the roster will be trimmed down going forward.
Perkins’ selection was one which which Krzyzewski – who led the 2008 team to a gold medal – was comfortable because of the center’s ability to play with Hall of Fame talent and his most glaring strength…defense.
“He plays on a team that’s a championship level team and he knows how to play with great players,” Krzyzewski said during a teleconference on Wednesday. “I think he is one of the better defensive players in the league and that really appealed to us about Kendrick.”
Perkins will be competing with Dwight Howard, Brooke Lopez, Ama’re Stoudemire and former Celtic Al Jefferson for one of the center spots on the 2012 Olympic team. Colangelo said Perkins could fit in and be the perfect role player on a team that will highlight some of the best talent in the NBA.
“We are not talking about the top 27 or 28 best all-around basketball players necessarily. Perkins can guard the bigs,” said Colangelo. “He should be able to perform very well competitively very well in the international game.
“As we look at our roster there is also a need for how are you going to defend against the bigs that we see on a number of European teams, South American teams and he has the ability to do that. He has a significant opportunity.”
Perkins is averaging a career-high 11.4 points per game this season, while grabbing 8.1 rebounds a night. He is also averaging just under two blocks a game, and has been one of the most consistent and healthy players for a banged-up Celtics squad this season.
Perkins was the only Celtics player selected to the pool of 27, a list that didn’t include first year All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.
“Rondo was not responsive to the inquiries regarding his interest,” said Colangelo, who said along with Andrew Bynum, three or four unnamed players declined the invite. “So we just assumed that was the case.”
The US team is loaded at the point guard position, with Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups all being selected to the pool. Jason Kidd declined the invite, as he retired from international competition after the 2008 Beijing Games with a gold medal.
Nine players and the entire coaching staff return from the 2008 gold medal team, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. To see the entire list click here.