At the end of this month, the United States national team will pack up and head to China for the FIBA World Cup. This will be a nice warmup for team USA with the Summer Olympics right around the corner.
We will see a lot of new faces make the trip to China as a lot of the NBA’s top stars turned down the invitation to try out for the team. Some people may bash these players and call them unpatriotic for not jumping at the chance to go out and win gold for their country, but I feel there are a lot of positives in the team getting a fresh makeover. Here are some reasons why I think it is a good thing that the NBA’s top stars turned down the team USA invite.
Creating the next wave of stars
Although it would have been fun to see guys like LeBron James, James Harden, and Stephen Curry team up and go put on a spectacle en route to bringing home another gold medal, this World Cup is a great opportunity to show off some of the talents that are going to carry the NBA into the future. As we all know, the NBA is becoming a bigger and more global game every year.
This is why having guys like De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, and Kyle Kuzma make the trip is huge. Showcasing these young stars on a grand stage will be great for the game because it will make these guys more household names, and it gives global fans the chance to see the next wave of NBA talent showcase their skills. The NBA is very big on marketing its superstars, and a World Cup team full of fresh young faces allows them to create new superstars on a global platform.
During the offseason, most hardcore NBA fans sit around on Twitter and wait to see clips of their favorite players training in empty gyms or in different kinds of semi-pro leagues to keep themselves in NBA-ready conditions. Although that is a good way of keeping themselves in shape and improving their game, what better way to get better and push yourself than to go head-to-head against other NBA talent in a competitive environment.
All of the guys that accepted the invitation to come to try out for the team want to be part of the 12 that make the trip to compete in China. That means that these guys are most likely giving their all in every practice and scrimmage to keep their names in contention to be selected for the team. Squaring off against NBA talent year-round will be good for these younger players. This competition is a good environment that will push these guys and bring out the best in them.
As we know, Coach K passed the torch to Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich to be the head coach of Team USA basketball moving forward. Although he stepped down from the position, Coach K has still been seen at practices helping out in a lesser role with the guys. This is a huge opportunity for these young players. Getting to spend a portion of the summer learning from some of the best coaches the sport has to offer is a great opportunity for these players as most of them are still in their developmental years.
This will also be good for the NBA because with all of these players getting to learn new things from these top-level coaches, it will also help create a more competitive game once these players return home and rejoin their teams to prep for the regular season. I am very intrigued and excited to see what some of these players learn and new skills they develop after getting to spend a little under two months under Coach Pop.
Style of play
This might be the biggest positive in my eyes. When this team is trimmed down to 12 players and touches down in China, they are going to put on a show. We saw in the Blue and White scrimmage that these guys are going to be fun to watch. Having a team full of young guys means that this team is going to play a fun style of basketball. We will see a lot of transition basketball, and a lot of play above the rim from guys like Fox, Mitchell, and Hawks’ big man John Collins. We will have quite the highlight tape once this Wolrd Cup has come to an end, and the fans in China are in for a treat.
Although I feel like the style of play would still be pretty similar if some of the NBA’s top stars were to make the trip, I think a lot of these young guys are trying to make a name for themselves worldwide. As such, they will go out and play with a little more energy and try a little harder to put on a great show game in and game out.
Now for a reason that fully affects the NBA. As we have seen, the NBA has been looking for more opportunities to give adequate rest to its star players. We have seen this load management with the likes of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Joel Embiid. Although teams have a right to keep their best players well rested, and we saw the payoff from this year’s champions Toronto Raptors, these players staying home for the World Cup lessens this in a small sense.
If all of the top talents were to go and spend the whole summer playing competitively, when the time comes for the NBA regular season to kick off, these guys would be out of gas. That would lead us to seeing prime time talents spending all their time on the bench to start this season. This is not good for the NBA product nor the NBA’s TV ratings. But, with sending younger players overseas to compete in the World Cup, it lessens the chance of these guys needing rest when they return home.
Those are some of the main points of why I feel that there are benefits to the NBA’s top stars turning down the invitation to try out for the World Cup team. The final roster has still not be trimmed down to 12 players. We don’t yet know who will pack up and travel to China to represent our country. But one thing is for sure, whatever 12 are chosen will have a lot to offer and put on some great performances come August 31st when the World Cup kicks off.