So, can John Wall and Bradley Beal make Team USA's roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup?
(Obviously, they can. Will they is the actual question.)
Fine, whatever. Will both or either member of the Wizards' starting backcourt be playing in Spain starting in late August?
The point guard and the perimeter threat do indeed have a legitimate shot based on their specific skill sets and the overall talent pool composition.
Their odds would also be better if they played inside.
First, here's a look at the list of those expected in Las Vegas next week. The group will be cut to 12 before the tournament begins on August 30.
Bigs: Demarcus Cousins (Kings), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Nuggets), Kevin Love (Timberwolves)
Small forward: Kevin Durant (Thunder), Paul George (Pacers), Chandler Parsons (Mavericks)
Wing guard: Bradley Beal (Wizards), DeMar DeRozen (Raptors), James Harden (Rockets), Gordon Hayward (Jazz), Kyle Korver (Hawks), Klay Thompson (Warriors)
Point guard: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Kyrie Irving (Cavs), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Derrick Rose (Bulls), John Wall (Wizards)
*That's 19 players, but expect at least one or two more names in the mix before next week. In addition to Wall's addition on Thursday, Team USA learned that Clippers forward Blake Griffin withdrew. That's on top of the Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Deron Williams and others passing on the opportunity over the previous weeks.
Barring the unforeseen, Davis, Love, Durant and George are locks in the frontcourt, Harden on the wing. Even though true low post bigs are not always ideal for international play, Drummond or Cousins will make the team. Still doubt both do, but it's possible. Not only was Griffin a lock to make the team, but he was one of the sure things coach Mike Krzyzewski and USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo could count on up front.
As for the point guards, the shorter 3-point line in international basketball is always a consideration. Also we have the Coach K factor. Put those two together and it's a lock that Curry and Irving are two of three floor generals selected. Rose is a total wild card after missing most of last season with a knee injury. On some level it seems like these practices are more of an opportunity for the former MVP to test his game then make the team, but we'll see. If he can go, Rose is number three.
Otherwise, the decision comes down to Wall's speed and playmaking --he led the NBA in total assists last season - versus Lillard's perimeter game (39 percent 3-point shooter). One thing working in Wall's favor perhaps is the absence of LeBron James, who often served as an extra point guard. That could lead the decision makers to choose the distributor (Wall) over the shooter (Lillard) for the third spot.
That leaves three spots. At least one goes to another big man. Based on this list I would suspect that's Faried, but again, others should be participating. Also, those practicing with the Team USA will be getting cursory look as well, a group that includes Mason and Miles Plumlee. Detroit's Greg Monroe's game is ideal for international play, but he's not headed to Vegas at this point.
That would leave two spots open and both probably go to those on the wings. Specifically, those who can shoot from beyond the international 3-point line. Beal and Thompson are considered by some to be the two best young shooting guards in the league and both shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Hayward, Parsons, Korver (led NBA in 3-point shooting last season) and DeRozen also have their supporters, but from the outside they look to be in the back of that pack. That group along with Thompson offer more size than Beal and therefore more positional flexibility.
So, yes, Wall and Beal have a legitimate shot to make Team USA's final roster. Beal faces a deeper group of options, but his outside game is ideal for international play. Wall could be shut out before arriving depending on Rose's knee or the roster's blueprint for this event, yet he's the one true distributor among a group of scoring point guards.
Get your popcorn ready.