Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA have taken the next step toward finalizing the roster for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup, reportedly cutting John Wall, Bradley Beal and Paul Millsap.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski has the news:
USA Basketball cut Washington's John Wall, Bradley Beal and Atlanta's Paul Millsap today, sources told Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 4, 2014
With Paul George also out following his catastrophic injury, there are now 16 remaining players in contention for the last 12 spots. Here's a look at who's left:
|DeMarcus Cousins||C||Sacramento Kings|
|Stephen Curry||G||Golden State Warriors|
|Anthony Davis||F/C||New Orleans Pelicans|
|DeMar DeRozan||G||Toronto Raptors|
|Andre Drummond||C||Detroit Pistons|
|Kevin Durant||G||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Kenneth Faried||F||Denver Nuggets|
|James Harden||G||Houston Rockets|
|Gordon Hayward||F||Utah Jazz|
|Kyrie Irving||G||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Kyle Korver||G/F||Atlanta Hawks|
|Damian Lillard||G||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Kevin Love||F||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Derrick Rose||G||Chicago Bulls|
|Chandler Parsons||F||Dallas Mavericks|
|Klay Thompson||G||Golden State Warriors|
If there's a surprise here, it's Wall. Beal is starting to come into his own, but he's still just 21 years old. Millsap, although a great fit for the international game as a stretch big man, was a late addition to the squad and was never fully expected to crack the final 12.
The 23-year-old point guard, however, is fresh off a career year, averaging 19.3 points, 8.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals to help the Washington Wizards to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in nearly a decade. He also drastically increased his shooting range, finishing with career highs in true shooting percentage (52.4) and effective field-goal percentage (47.3), per Basketball-Reference.com.
Moreover, as CBS Sports' Matt Moore argued, his defense would have been valuable in Spain:
Sure, Coach K. Not like John Wall's defense would have been useful.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) August 4, 2014
Remaining point guards Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard all have reputations for what they can do with the ball in their hands, and former league MVP Derrick Rose is still working his way back from a pair of serious knee injuries. While the latter has looked fantastic in training camp, it's hard to tell what his lateral quickness will be like during a real game.
Still, that kind of depth at the point guard position was always going to make it difficult for Wall. Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo, via USA Today's Sam Amick, recently discussed his thoughts on sifting through a tremendous group of guards:
It's hard to create more than two pure points (on the roster). Kyrie is a pure point. John Wall is a point. Derrick is a point. Curry can play point, but he's a two (shooting guard). Harden is a two-three (shooting guard-small forward). Damian is a tweener also – he goes both ways.
It's hard to carry three pure points unless we felt we were very unsure. For example, if Rose had come in and hasn't looked the way he has, we would've said, 'Geesh, maybe we have to carry three points, but it appears that we don't have to.'
As CBS Sports' Zach Harper pointed out, though, it bodes well for the Wizards in 2014-15:
Wizards fans wanted to see their guys on Team USA, but it probably helps they didn’t make it. More rest for the season.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 4, 2014
Making the team for this event would have been a great moment for Wall, but the young star still has plenty to look forward to in his burgeoning career. While it would have been nice for him to represent his country on the world stage, Team USA will still be a major threat and is loaded from top to bottom.
As for Coach K and his staff, the decision-making process is only going to get more difficult, as an argument can be made for every remaining player. Moreover, with a substantial amount of superstars sitting out this year, picking the correct blend of players for his roster will be crucial for success overseas.