The watered-down USA Basketball Men's FIBA World Cup Team is trimmed to 13 players vying for the 12-man squad.
About to head to Australia for continued training, Team USA nearly has its final roster, though it may not be as impressive as usual. The men’s teams for the FIBA World Cup are typically not as stacked as the teams that represent the USA at the Olympics. Still, this squad boasts few All-Stars and is considerably thinner than many we have seen.
With the recent withdrawal of D’Aaron Fox, the 13 players striving to make this final cut are (per NBA.com): Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
The only All-Star names on the roster are Walker, Lopez, and Middleton, which may be considered by many to be “lesser” All-Stars at that. They even dropped a scrimmage to a squad made up primarily of G-League players.
Don’t get us wrong, this squad (minus one player TBD) is likely still going to enter the tournament in China as the favorites to win. Much of the team is made up of the Boston Celtics young core. Wing athleticism alone will give this group an edge over their competition in the form of Tatum, Kuzma, Mitchell, and Brown. Floor-stretchers Lopez, Harris, Walker, and Middleton will keep plenty of open lanes for them.
A few dedicated defenders will also help make up for weak points in the form of Smart outside and Turner inside. It will be a fun team to watch, if not who you may have been hoping for.
Some big names were thrown in the hat for this squad early such as James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard and quite a few more. Why more household-name players have opted out is a bit perplexing. Fatigue from a long NBA season is likely a big cause - especially since many of the top player also experience lengthy playoff runs.
This will be a tremendous opportunity for the players involved (especially for the Celtics, since their starting lineup is essentially on the squad). They will get to practice against great caliber talent, travel, and have many unique and memorable experiences in China.
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will begin on Saturday, August 31
We will be tracking this team through the FIBA World Cup, so keep checking back here as always for updates!