The new USA Men's Basketball roster had their first practice in Las Vegas yesterday. Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler is among the many new players on the roster. The full roster can be broken down into three groups; guards, wings, and bigs. The guards include Tyrese Haliburton, Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards, and Austin Reaves. The wings include Brandon Ingram, Mikal Bridges, Paolo Banchero, Cam Johnson, and Josh Hart. Kessler, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Bobby Portis are the team's only true big men.
With only three bigs, Kessler's expected to have a significant role for the Americans. In an interview with The Athletic’s Tony Jones, Kessler said, “I’m really excited to be a part of Team USA and extremely thankful that I get to be a part of this. I think the amount of talent and the amount of knowledge that’s going to be on the roster is amazing. I’m trying to learn as much as I can and use this experience to try and better myself in every way that I can.”
Kessler and Jackson Jr. are both defensive anchors in the lane so that the team can always have an elite rim protector on the court. If head coach Steve Kerr chooses, he could play an 'All-Defense' lineup with Hart, Bridges, Johnson, Jackson, and Kessler. Anthony Edwards could be put at the point guard instead of Hart if Kerr wants to add some offensive punch.
This team is young and doesn't have any of the A-list NBA stars, but it is talented and deep. Probably five or six players on this team could end up as the best player for the USA in the World Cup. Our friends at DraftKings say Team USA is the favorite to take home gold, with Canada in second place and Slovenia and Australia tied for third. The United States failed to medal at the previous FIBA World Cup in 2019. That team featured the former Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. None of the 2019 roster is on the team for 2023. Team USA is starting fresh with young stars, including two players with only one season under their belts, Kessler and Banchero.
Who will win the gold medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup?
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