What’s Team USA Without The All-Stars?

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One of the big stories following what’s considered one of the greatest basketball free agency summers is the Team USA roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Team USA is usually known for having some of its most dominant stars participate in the event whether it’s for the World Cup or the Olympic Gold, but this year many are considering this roster to be lackluster. 

In the 2016 Olympics, the team included names such as Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Demarcus Cousins. In the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the team included James Harden, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and even Mason Plumlee (who’s on the roster again this year). Fast forward to the current roster that includes names such as Kemba Walker, Kyle Kuzma, Myles Turner, and Donavan Mitchell.

Now don’t get me wrong these are some great young players which if you look at the past teams included the superstars we love to watch now at a younger age. The only gripe that everyone has over this team is that those previous players are still available and in their prime. Since coming in third place in the 2006 FIBA World Cup, USA basketball fans have been accustomed to nothing but total dominance in these country competitive games. I mean who wouldn’t want to see Kyrie Irving razzle-dazzle fans then throw a lob to Anthony Davis or James Harden hit his signature step-back in that Team USA uniform. 

The main reason many of the league’s top players dropped out of playing in the World Cup is that for the first time in many years, the covenant Larry O’Brien trophy is literally up for grabs. 1/3 of the NBA were free agents this summer and many moved to new teams making not only 2-4 teams legitimate title contenders but possibly 9-10 teams (that’s another topic to discuss in the future). These players are declining to play in the World Cup to work with some of their new teammates and/or build better chemistry with their standing team in hopes of becoming the 2020 NBA Champions. 

If you look at it from the player perspective it’s not a bad idea honestly. With the first round starting on September 1st and ending on the 15th of the same month followed by NBA training camp starting on the 30th as well. This will stretch the season for players that are on the team and likely to make the playoffs to June. That’s a lot of basketball folks.

Many players are becoming more cautious of how they treat their bodies during the season so that they can optimally perform in the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard is a great example of this. Coming off an ankle injury in the 2017 playoffs, Leonard missed 22 games this past season due to load management (a.k.a. resting his body). During the playoffs, however, Kawhi Leonard put on one of the greatest playoff performances in history ultimately winning the championship for the Toronto Raptors. Many, including Kawhi, attribute this to how he handled his body throughout the season and the trust of the Raptors organization to even let this happen.

The current Team USA roster has raised some questions for people. With many players dropping out of the team from AD to Marvin Bayley III, many have lost hope in the team. It doesn’t help that on August 14th, the team lost a scrimmage to a collection of G league/overseas players 36-17. Here is a picture of the roster.

Ok ok now hear me out people, this does not mean that Team USA is in trouble for the upcoming World Cup. If you remember, the 1992 Dream Team lost to some college players in a scrimmage as well. That was only a scrimmage and even though it was against some names that many are not familiar with I have not lost hope in this team. One of the greatest coaches in sports history in Gregg Popovich is coaching this team and the roster doesn’t have bad players on the team. Although they may be young and not the very best in the NBA right now, I still believe that this team can ultimately win this year’s FIBA World Cup and this can be a look into what future of Team USA basketball.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, I grew up loving the sport of basketball and entertainment altogether. Currently, I am a student at the University of Kentucky with a major in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Theater.