The 12-man USA Men’s World Cup Team roster was finalized Saturday after it was determined that Kyle Kuzma’s (Los Angeles Lakers) left ankle injury would prevent him from participating in the upcoming competition.
The official 2019 USA World Cup Team includes 2016 Olympic gold medalist Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); 2014 World Cup gold medalist Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
The USA Basketball World Cup Team coaching staff features USA and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and USA assistant coaches and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University head coach Jay Wright.
The American squad will continue World Cup preparations Aug. 25-28 in Sydney, Australia, including training Aug. 25, 27 and 28, and a final exhibition on Aug. 26 against Canada at Qudos Bank Arena. For game ticket information visit usab.com/mnttickets.
Despite suffering a scary fall in which he tripped and face-planted on the floor during their second exhibition game against the Boomers, White making the final cut appears to indicate he will be fine in short order.
Unfortunately, Kuzma was not so lucky. While it is unclear when he was injured, he reported a sore ankle to team doctors and was held out the second exhibition game. It was soon determined that the injury would prevent him from playing in the World Cup, therefore making him the final cut to bring the roster from 13 men down to the required 12.
While it is definitely exciting to see a current Spur play for Team USA for the first time since 2004, this still shows the risk players go through when representing their country during the NBA offseason, and especially when a tournament of this caliber takes place so close to the start of the next season. There has been much speculation as to why so many stars have declined to participate this summer, but the answer should be pretty obvious: the timing and health risks. (By comparison, the Olympics tend to fall in late July/early August, giving players more time to rest and recuperate before NBA training camp begins.)
Regardless, this summer has been and will continue to be an amazing opportunity for White. He has come a long way from scrawny high school player without any scholarship offers to starter on an NBA playoff team in just his second season and making the Team USA roster. His rapid rise has been a pleasure to watch, and hopefully it continues in China and once his third season with the Spurs begins in October.