WASHINGTON – So many NBA Superstars from the United States will not be present in the Basketball World Cup in China as if they would create a remarkable all-star group of their own.
The Americans are in quest for their third consecutive championship in the world of basketball that will start from August 31 to September 15 but they have nothing to worry about. From previous experience, it could even give way to a new US star player to become famous.
LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Paul George are among those players that will not participate in the competition. Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson have injuries.
The World Cup final comes only two weeks before most NBA training camps open, with the first games of the 2019-2020 campaign on October 22.
Adding to the usual stress of pre-season were the large number of transfers by top players in the off-season and an up-for-grabs mentality in the Western Conference, where a half-dozen restored clubs are reasonable NBA title candidates.
“I think most of the star players, they are trying to save their energy. I think that’s the main reason they are dropping out,” said Sam
Mitchelle, an NBA TV analyst, former professional basketball player and coached for parts of six seasons.
“There are 80 percent of the players on the star teams who have a chance to compete for a championship. For you to go play in the world championship, risk getting injured… it’s a lot to ask.”
There are some players who don’t think much about this year’s team, including Lakers superstar James, who started filming “Space Jam 2” in late June. James is an Olympic gold medalist in 2008 and 2012 and had played in eight consecutive NBA Finals until this year.
Most of the players said they needed the off-season to join together with their colleague or teammates.
‘I think other guys looked at it like, ‘Why would I want to go potentially be the face of what could be a losing roster?’” said C.J. McCollum,
ho also a former member of the team, on a podcast interview with Adrian Wojnarowski.
‘Dream Team’ to ‘B Team’
Gregg Popovich, head coach of San Antonio Spurs is leading the US team for the first time and has been forced to name a squad of rising talents.
Popovich and his men were beaten by team Australia with a score of 98-94, breaking a record of 78 consecutive American wins in major competition and exhibition games. The game was held in Melbourne.
“Nobody wins forever,” said Popovich, whose team won against Canada 84-68 on Monday.
This may be no “Dream Team” – the name given to the impressive 1992 USA Olympic Team – but fresh, new talent has done the job in past US World Cup competitions.
The 2010 basketball team was mocked as a “B” team but eventually won the tournament behind future NBA superstars Durant, Westbrook, Curry and Kevin Love.
In 2014, the champion USA team included Davis, Harden, Thompson, Curry and Most Valuable Player Kyrie Irving.
Mason Plumlee is the only 2014 World Cup player that will join the Team USA, while Kemba Walker is the only NBA player on the team.
Harrison Barnes is the only member of the 2016 Rio Olympic gold-medal team in the squad, adding to doubts back home that the US can make it three world titles on the spin.
Spanish center Marc Gasol, who plays for the champion team, Toronto Raptors told The New York Times that he expects the US to use the skepticism as motivation in China.
“Even with all the guys that dropped out… they are still super-talented physically and technically,” Gasol said.
“They are pretty well coached as well. So you put it all together and it’s a great team.”