We’re playing a fantasy game here, but hear me out.
The FIBA World Cup has been a regular feature over the last few years, usually held in-between Olympics.
This coming year their is renewed optimism, especially in the U.S. with veteran NBA coach and Spurs Dynasty wielding front-man Gregg Popovich coaching the team.
The World Cup format has also added intrigue as it will directly impact qualification for the 2020 Olympics. Many of the big guns show out for the Olympics, but now there’s more riding on the FIBA World Cup.
With the recent success of the U.S. Women’s team in the FIFA World Cup – it’s a chance for many to be a a part of something bigger. Having said that – a lot of top names withdrew themselves from the roster this week due to focusing on next year’s NBA season.
Back to the fantasy. Let’s say no one withdrew, and everyone wanted to play. This, in my opinion, would be their go-to 10 man rotation.
If I were Gregg Popovich I would choose:
Okay, so if it happened tomorrow, we’d have some notable absentees. The likes of Paul George, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant would all be out of health.
Point Guard – Stephen Curry
You have to go with the two-time MVP here. When it comes to basketball tournaments, you can never go wrong having someone just jacking up the three, and Steph Curry might have more open looks here than the entire 82 game season ahead. Curry is still very much the ring general of PG’s. He can facilitate, defend, go to the basket or space the floor. He won’t be in unfamiliar territory letting another player run the offense from time to time too. Curry is my pick here.
Backup – Damian Lillard
You want someone to be able to come in and run an offense smoothly when the first choice is out of the game. It seems like almost a disservice to Lillard but he can do that and much more. Can be a valuable asset to close out games too.
Near misses – Kemba Walker, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving
Shooting Guard – James Harden
Did someone say MVP? Harden might have the most polarizing style of play in this all-star tournament team but it would be disservice not to have him starting. The Rockets kingpin can create something out of nothing – whether it’s lumping a 3 ball over a centre or getting to the basket when most needed. He may not bring huge defensive prowess but last season he improved on previous shortcomings. He’ll fit right in with this star studded offense, and will happily space the floor and shoot the 3 if others want to dominate the paint.
Backup – Bradley Beal
We need to give Bradley Beal something to look forward to this coming year. It’s not going to be John Wall’s contract that will help him sleep at night. When Beal gets going, he can keep providing even with the toughest of looks.
Near misses – DeMar DeRozan, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker
Small Forward – Kawhi Leonard
For the last time (I swear)… did someone say MVP? It would be a crime against humanity if Kawhi Leonard wasn’t given a starting spot on this team for all he did a month or two ago. We know what we’re getting from Kawhi – consistency. Whether that’s on the offense, the defense, the rebounding – he’s the perfect teammate. This is very much a fantasy list but if form was a factor, Kawhi would very much top the bill. Hell, I don’t even know why I’m explaining myself. It’s Kawhi.
Backup – Jimmy Butler
I like the idea of having Jimmy Buckets on your bench for game scenarios. He can guard your best player or come into the fold and pick up the offense. If the playoffs gone by are anything to go by, Butler can get it done when the pressure is on.
Near misses – Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Jayson Tatum
Power Forward – LeBron James
Did someone say.. no I’m done. We have LeBron James here. Another crime against the greater good to leave the arguable GOAT off the list. Heck, I’d put Michael Jordan in this starting 5 if he could fit an XL jersey. LeBron is another do-it-all player, at least when the Lakers aren’t tanking. Put him in a team and you have a big man presence in the paint, a switchable defender, a pass-first point guard and a bucket getter all in one. He’ll also try and recruit half this team for 2021 free agency but he can get away with that.
Backup – Blake Griffin
Coming off his highest PPG ratio to date this year, Griffin deserves some part of this 10 man rotation in my opinion. He has adapted his offense to fit the modern game, so he can space the floor when needed. And pull out a few dunks for House of Highlights too.
Near misses – LaMarcus Aldridge, Julius Randle, Kevin Love
Centre – Anthony Davis
There ain’t no team U.S.A without a Lakeshow. Whether it’s Shaq and Kobe or LeBron and AD, we haven’t quite got to see the latest partnership in full force on a basketball court yet. So why do we have to wait? The fantasy gods are planning for Christmas. AD is the most dominant force at the 5 for Team U.S, and can provide a much needed defensive protection while the rest are trying to break 30 PPG. Davis could do that too, but someone needs to block shots from 7 foot Serbians.
Backup – Karl Anthony Towns
KAT came on leap and bounds as the first choice man on the Timberwolves following Jimmy B’s departure. Still one of the most exciting young talents – many backup centres won’t be too pleased to see him exit the timeout and step onto the court.
Near misses – Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen, Andre Drummond
There we have it. Our tomorrow dream U.S. team. It’s pretty strong, and that’s without some injured players who’d have made the list.
Let’s hope the U.S. can come out with a good squad come August/September.
Roll on the Cup.