After the embarrassing loss to Australia, where the USA allowed San Antonio Spurs back-up point guard Patty Mills to score 30, it was reported that forward Kyle Kuzma sustained a left ankle injury. The injury forces Kuzma to withdraw from Team USA, finalizing the 12-man roster.
Coach Gregg Popovich of the Spurs was summoned with the task of coaching one of the weakest Team USA basketball squads of this century. The official roster will include Harrison Barnes, Jaylen Brown, Joe Harris, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Myles Turner, Kemba Walker and Derrick White.
The team is full of young talent, waiting to blossom in the NBA. Even though Walker is the veteran of the team, multiple reports have surfaced that Mitchell has emerged as the breakout player and leader of the summer.
On Saturday, Team USA suffered a shocking 98-94 loss to Australia. The loss snapped a 78-game international winning streak by Team USA over a span of nearly 13 years.
Withdrawing to rehab the ankle injury could result in good news for Kuzma when looking long-term. The Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for a lengthy season with championship aspirations. Kuzma will need the rest, seeing as his season could extend into mid-June.
For Team USA, this is a blow to their already limited forward spot. If they decide to use a small lineup, Tatum could see action at power forward. And that’s not a favorably defensive or rebounding matchup that you want.
For the other player’s on Team USA, this is a chance to step-up and prove their worth. Mitchell will be battle tested this summer in the FIBA World Cup. Like Kuzma and Tatum, Mitchell is entering his third season. A season which could see the Utah Jazz take the next step and ascend into a championship contending team. The summer games are a perfect opportunity for the young players to understand true work ethic and what it takes to be a champion in this league.
Team USA is looking to make history this year. The team has the opportunity to three-peat as FIBA World Cup champions, which hasn’t been done in the 69-year history of the event.