Team USA finalizes roster; cuts Kuzma, Adebayo, Young ahead of FIBA World Cup of basketball

It’s only been a couple weeks since the U.S. Senior Men’s National Team got together for training camp. Now comes the tough part — parting ways with talented players that want to make the team.

Following up on a scrimmage between the Senior Team and the US Select Team that ended up in two ties (at least from what the media was able to witness), the Senior National Team defeated the Select Team, 97-78 the other night. Then they lost to Australia in a friendly, that loss was sandwiched by wins over the same Boomer team and Canada.

More Players Depart, Making Tough Cuts

It’s been chaotic and a bunch of moving parts for Team USA in terms of players committing, injuries, and bad fits.

Two weeks ago, center Bam Adebayo and forward Thaddeus Young were cut from the Senior team. A trimming of the roster was expected, but what was a surprise was the announcement that Adebayo and Young were replaced with two players from the Select Team. Marvin Bagley III of the Sacramento Kings and Derrick White of the San Antonio Spurs were promoted from the Select squad for the next phase of Team USA’s training camp. White and Bagley have obviously left a strong impression on Team USA.

No matter how we look at it or what team comes from the choices, Team USA looks like a group of leftovers; one where a voucher code was used to get what was left in the bargain bin. Now that they have some options, it’s trying to make some sense of how these non-superstars can fit together best.

“Cutting players is always hard,” said Assistant Coach Steve Kerr. “They’re all tough decisions, because you have a whole roster full of really good players.”

Since then, Kyle Lowry, Bagley III, P.J. Tucker, and De’Aaron Fox have dropped out. Tucker and Lowry withdrew due to injury while Bagley and Fox pulled out for rest before the season. Lowry was a long shot to begin with as he was recovering from thumb surgery and missed all the camp. That left 13 players with one more player to be cut.

That decision came earlier this week when the coaching staff decided to trim Kyle Kuzma from the roster. Though Kuzma is one of their top three point shooters, the young forward hurt his ankle and was reportedly struggling with defense and rebounding.

Betting on Chemistry

The Senior National Team now has 12 players including the starters during the team scrimmages: Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. The team also includes Myles Turner, Harrison Barnes, Joe Harris,  Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee with White and Marcus Smart.

This is certainly the least-impressive NBA stocked team to represent America in a international tournament, but the hope now isn’t on the name recognition or talent that will get Team USA through the World Cup tournament bracket, but chemistry between those lesser known players.

“We’re still trying to figure out how people fit together, it’s got to be a good mix. You got to have something coming off the bench also,” Senior Team head coach Gregg Popovich told NBA.com. “Overall, we’re looking for people who are committed defensively and are totally unselfish and are willing to move the ball and move themselves at the offensive end.”

The team will now fly to China for the FIBA World Cup competition which begins tomorrow, August 31, 2019

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