What’s up with the USA Basketball FIBA World Cup team?
What can we do to fix the issue with lack of availability of top talent for the USA Basketball FIBA World Cup team? Start with: maybe it’s not a problem.
Look, of course we want the best guys for the tournaments in Olympic years. The Olympics are, you know, the Olympics.
This World Cup, it’s, well, not sure what it is, other than a marketing opportunity.
This year’s World Cup is in China, and FIBA, and USA Basketball, wants to tap into China in terms of both business and talent development potential.
And so, we’re having a World Cup there this year.
From the perspective of perspective players, though, they’ve asked the question of themselves, what’s in it for me?
If you’re a top-tier talent, it’s not hard to see the wisdom of the answer, not much.
Practices for the World Cup team began on Aug. 5.
The tournament begins Aug. 31, ends Sept. 15.
Commit to the team, you’re committing to a month and a half of basketball, knowing that NBA teams begin training camps on Sept. 27, meaning you get a couple of weeks off before you start the grind.
And it’s a grind, an NBA season. Once training camps tip off, you’re in for the long haul, at least into mid-April, and for players on playoff teams, into May, maybe June.
And with next year being the Olympic year, if you’re in the mix for a spot on that team, the Tokyo Games commence on July 24, so, not a lot of turnaround time there.
Ask me, and I’d say, I’m not sure if I’m USA Basketball that I want my top talents playing in a rather meaningless World Cup knowing that the important international tournament is next summer.
I’m sure if I’m an NBA coach or GM associated with those top talents that I want that extra wear and tear on my guys heading into 2019-2020 and then 2020-2021.
The way things are working out, the guys the next tier down – including UVA alum Joe Harris – will get a chance to grow their games on a bigger stage.
Good on them.
Maybe some of these guys then grow into bigger roles in USA Basketball, maybe even play themselves onto the Olympic team.
Again, that happens, good on them.
In the meantime, yeah, Team USA, as it will be constituted this summer, will not be a favorite in the 2019 World Cup, not for gold, maybe not even for a medal at all.
I don’t see that as a bad thing at all.
Column by Chris Graham