With the FIBA Basketball World Cup right around the corner, USA Basketball is in Australia for a few tune-up games. Lacking the star power typically present in previous years, this edition of USA Basketball may find themselves having a slightly tougher go in international competition. While USA Basketball still looks to be the most talented roster from top to bottom, the talent gap looks to be significantly closer than in years past.
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Lakers Kyle Kuzma & Celtics Jayson Tatum go One on One at USA Basketball Camp
In a series of drills, the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma matched up and went one on one with the Boston Celtics’ two budding stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. From the brief footage, we got more of a look into Kuzma’s new-look shot and it certainly looks to be an improvement from his first two years. Much quicker on the release, Kuzma was not only able to get off shots but get off good looks against quality defensive efforts from Tatum and Brown.
While one on one drills rarely equate to success in a five on five environment (just ask Hoodie Melo), the fact that Kuzma looks so comfortable creating (and making) his own looks should bring a smile to Laker fans faces. While Kuzma never struggled to score, him taking the next step in terms of his scoring efficiency is the biggest thing he can do to help give the Lakers offense a shot in the arm.
The ability to go up against fellow young rising stars like Tatum and Brown on a daily basis cannot go understated and it should be interesting to see how the USA Basketball experience has shaped Kuzma once Laker training camp rolls around.
USA Basketball Roster Nearly Set Ahead of FIBA World Cup
After a slew of players left the team on their own free will during the final round of cuts, coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t had to do much to trim the roster down to its current state of 13 players. However, it looks like he will have to make a final decision given that USA Basketball must be down to 12 players when the FIBA World Cup tips off. While backcourt stalwarts like Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart seem like near locks to make the roster, the picture starts to get a bit murkier when looking at other players – particularly the bigs.
It seems the final cut is most likely going to come from big man pool, where USA Basketball has three true centers on a 12-man roster. Brook Lopez looks to be likely to stay as the team needs his veteran presence, narrowing down the decision to either Myles Turner or Mason Plumlee. While Turner is the far more talented and versatile player of the two, he hasn’t done much at USA Basketball camp to help push his name ahead of the pack. Meanwhile, Plumlee has been quietly solid and while he doesn’t offer much upside, he gives USA Basketball some consistent production on both sides of the ball.