In case everyone forgot, the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup is taking place in around three weeks in three countries: the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.
While it may not be considered as important as the Olympics in most Americans’ eyes, it’s still a pretty prestigious basketball tournament with more national teams involved (32) compared to the Olympics (12).
As expected, Team USA is sending out a roster of young up-and-coming stars, some of which have already notched an All-Star appearance. Compared to the 2019 team that finished seventh, this roster appears to make more sense, with a reasonable balance of offensive juice and defensive versatility.
Unlike the NBA, FIBA allows a maximum of 12 players on team rosters. Here are the 12 Team USA players going to Manila in the Philippines, where they’ll be playing their group-stage games and (hopefully) will play their knockout-stage games:
- Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers)
- Mikal Bridges (Brooklyn Nets)
- Cam Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
- Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic)
- Bobby Portis (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves)
- Jalen Brunson (New York Knicks)
- Josh Hart (New York Knicks)
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (Memphis Grizzlies)
- Walker Kessler (Utah Jazz)
- Austin Reaves (Los Angeles Lakers)
As you can tell, there will be no players from the Golden State Warriors in the roster. Instead, it will be Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spearheading the national team in their attempt to reclaim the World Cup crown.
Kerr, previously an assistant coach behind Gregg Popovich in the 2020 Olympics and the 2019 World Cup, will be assisted by Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, and Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few. With a combined seven NBA championships and two NCAA Final Four appearances, that’s one heck of a coaching staff.
Their challenge is to take a young roster and turn it into a cohesive unit in less than a month, which is a daunting task but not impossible given their pedigree and the roster they’re provided. It’s not totally out of the question that they just might win the whole thing based on their collective talent.
However, the field they’re up against is loaded with high-level talent, even while top NBA stars such as Nikola Jokić and (possibly) Giannis Antetokounmpo have elected to sit out. Canada is fielding their most talented roster with multiple NBA studs; France is sending out virtually the same squad that defeated a better USA roster in the first game of the 2020 Olympics and gave them a hard time in the gold medal game; Australia has nine NBA players on their roster; Slovenia has Luka Dončić and years of continuity.
Kerr and his staff have their work cut out for them — work that officially started earlier today during Team USA’s first day of training camp.
With how better constructed this roster is compared to the 2019 version, there’s a pretty good chance of them lifting the James Naismith Trophy at the end of the tournament. It’s also worth monitoring how Kerr will coach a roster that’s structurally different than the one he’s handled for almost a decade, and one without an all-time-great talent in Stephen Curry.