The FIBA World Cup is coming this offseason, and with mere months left to prepare, Team USA is beginning to take shape. The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported that five players are among the first to commit to playing for Team USA this summer: Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges.
Marc Stein first reported that New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson had joined the list of commits for the tournament. Adrian Wojnarowski added that Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. and New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram have also signed up to play. Wojnarowski subsequently reported that Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler, coming off an outstanding rookie season, will play, as will Nets wing Cameron Johnson.
The immediate takeaway here is that this group skews young. Portis is 28, Johnson is 27 and Bridges is 26, but Edwards, Haliburton and Reaves all have three or fewer years of NBA experience. This tends to be how World Cup rosters are built, as the biggest stars tend to commit only to the Olympics. In 2019, Team USA brought then-youngsters Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell to China for the World Cup. Now, Team USA is looking to identify the next group of young stars.
This is the first Team USA cycle for new head coach Steve Kerr and director Grant Hill. The former is replacing mentor Gregg Popovich, who only went through the Team USA cycle once, but the latter is replacing Jerry Colangelo, who built four Olympic gold medal winners for Team USA dating back to 2008. The World Cup serves as a qualifier for the 2024 Olympics and will hand out seven spots in total. The two highest finishing teams from the Americas and Europe as well as the highest finishing teams from Asia, Africa and Oceania will punch their tickets to Paris this summer.
With 10 roster spots down, Team USA still has two to go. Earlier this season, Desmond Bane and Alex Caruso were among players that Team USA had recruited, though it is unclear if they will ultimately make the team. Team USA will not hold extensive tryouts as it has in the past, but will rather select its 12 players ahead of time and only move forward with that group.reported that
Here's a full look at the reported roster commitments:
Team USA World Cup roster
Jaren Jackson Jr.
The players selected thus far run the entire gamut from No. 1 overall picks (Edwards) to former undrafted free agents (Reaves). In the end, though, background matters little to Team USA. So long as the team has complementary skill sets and can function as a group, it will have a strong chance in this summer's World Cup.