USA Basketball World Cup team plans in the works


Grant Hill is responsible for helping build a Team USA roster for the 2023 World Cup and Paris 2024 Olympics.

The final roster is still months away. It could be May, June or even July before USA Basketball knows which 12 NBA players will be on the team that will compete at the World Cup in the Philippines next summer.

That certainly doesn’t mean Americans sit and wait.

Let the recruitment begin. The braintrust for the USA – managing director Grant Hill, national team director Sean Ford and coach Steve Kerr – is already in the process of getting players to consider wearing red, white and blue at the 2023 World Cup as well as the Paris 2024 Olympics .

“It’s been really good so far, really positive momentum,” Hill said. “I’ve looked at those who have been part of the program in recent years and then also some who haven’t and have emerged as fantastic players who we think would fit into the international game . It’s very different from our game. It was fun, but it’s kind of a delicate dance.”

Many names will trickle out in the coming weeks and months; Remember that 52 players were either invited or signed at various times for the 2019 World Cup, and 40 of them weren’t in the side that eventually made it to China to finish a disappointing seventh place. Atlanta’s Trae Young has said he wants to play. Miami’s Tyler Herro doesn’t say no. The formula the Americans will use for this team building project will be simple – a few versatile and mobile bigs, lots of ballhanders and lots of shooters.

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Decisions are influenced by health, how deep a player’s NBA team goes into the playoffs, maybe contract status, and let’s not even think about how much chaos it would be to put together a World Cup team if the league were labor disputes has and is going into a lockout this summer. It’s a three-week tournament, but not a three-week commitment; Camp will start sometime in late July and if all goes well, the team will play for gold in mid-September – just a few weeks before NBA training camps are scheduled to begin.

“We’re just continuing these conversations, talking about our vision, how we envision certain guys going to be a part of it,” Hill said. “And there are a lot of people who were very receptive to the idea.”

There’s a map Hill, Ford, and Kerr have to play that previous employees didn’t have.

You can say that the US is not respected.

The Americans are four-time Olympic champions and, with all due respect to the World Cup, the Olympics are by far the most important tournament on the international calendar. But a few weeks ago, Spain, bolstered by a win at the 2019 World Cup and a title at this year’s EuroBasket tournament, overtook the USA in the world rankings compiled by FIBA ​​- the sport’s international governing body.

It had been 12 years since any men’s team other than the United States was at the top.

“Of course, this may or may not last long,” said FIBA ​​Secretary General Andreas Zagklis. “That is in their hands and in the hands of the teams fighting for first place in the leaderboard. … At the end of the day, whoever takes home the Naismith Trophy on September 10 next year counts.”

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He’s right. But ranking is something Americans aren’t excited about.

“First of all, fully respect the rankings and the metrics used to determine them,” Hill said. “You don’t like that. you don’t like what you hear And I think we have some pride in the game and the success we’ve had in the past, but it’s an opportunity for us and a motivating factor for us to get back to that level. From a recruiting perspective, we undoubtedly have a chance to fix and change that. And that has been used and will continue to be used.”

That will not be easy. Mike Krzyzewski said it for years, and Gregg Popovich said the same thing when he took over from Coach K as US coach, that the world is catching up – or has caught up – with Americans when it comes to international play. Kobe Bryant said it with a vengeance in 2019 and was proven right when the US stumbled in China.

France is building a great team, one that Victor Wembanyama will have projected as the No. 1 draft pick and could have Joel Embiid – if he decides the French on an offer to play for the USA, a deal in which he really has a say international free agent. Slovenia will have Luka Doncic. Oh, and Spain is still Spain.

But for now, USA Basketball thinks it’s on the right track.

“We want to build a roster that gives us a chance to win gold,” Hill said. “That’s the plan. I owe it to our coaching staff, I owe it to our program and I feel like we’re building in that direction.”

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