Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Marcus Smart weren't named captains of Team USA's FIBA World Cup squad, despite reports they were, per Marc Stein of the New York Times. Instead, head coach Gregg Popovich is leaning on that talented trio for leadership without giving them formalized captaincies.
Per the Associated Press (via ESPN), Walker announced prior to Thursday's exhibition game against Australia the three men would share duties leading the squad.
"I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me, and I'm here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy," he said.
Walker and Mitchell have emerged as the two best players for the United States after so many notable stars skipped out on this year's World Cup.
It helps that Walker and Mitchell have reputations as two of the most high-character players in the NBA.
Charlotte Hornets assistant Ronald Nored told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe in July that Walker is "the best guy ever" and "a great teammate in the locker room."
Mitchell told Aaron Folk of UtahJazz.com he's been hanging around Walker a lot during Team USA training camp.
"I talk to Kemba a lot," Mitchell said. "It's great being able to pick his brain, just find ways to be a better point guard, how to get over pick-and-rolls, finding guys that are open. ... I'm just finding ways to better myself and I appreciate that he lets me pick his brain and ask questions."
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston made the case for Smart to be named the Boston Celtics' team captain: "What will set Smart apart from his teammates this season is what happens inside the locker room or off the floor when the lights, cameras and action of the NBA are nowhere to be found."
Walker's presence with the Celtics leaves head coach Brad Stevens with a lot to think about if he wants to have a team captain.
Popovich will take advantage of what Walker, Smart and Mitchell bring to the table in the team's quest to win a third straight World Cup title.