Last summer two members of the Washington Wizards were part of the Team USA roster, Bradley Beal and John Wall. As of Thursday, only Beal remains in the 2014-16 player pool.
Wall ranks fourth in the NBA and first in the Eastern Conference with 8.5 assists. Now in his fourth season, Wall is averaging career-high numbers in virtually every category including scoring (20.2), steals (1.9), free throw (83.9) and 3-point percentage (31.8) plus assists. He's in a strong position to reach his first All-Star game and the Wizards are in position to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009 (even if they currently are having an issue with posting an actual winning record).
So why when the updated 28-player roster was announced on Thursday did it not include Washington's point guard?
At a basic level, unlike Beal, Wall plays at a very, very deep position. Team USA officials chose the other guys. Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams all received invites.
Assuming good health, Paul and Curry are locks to make the 2014 USA World Championship Team and the 2016 USA Olympic Team. Same could probably be said of Westbrook and Rose, but obviously the Chicago Bulls star and former league MVP has been anything but healthy lately. Out for the 2013-14 season with a knee injury, Rose has indicated he'd like to participate with the team this summer. We'll see about that.
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Even if he can't go, Team USA doesn't lack for options. Despite the Cleveland Cavaliers inability to rise in the Eastern Conference standings, Irving's scoring and shooting ability continues to make him a favorite among league observers (the fact that his former college coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, has the same gig with Team USA doesn't hurt his chances). Lillard is averaging 21.2 points and 5.8 assists while matching Beal's 43 percent clip from beyond the arc for the contending Portland Trail Blazers. As for Williams, consider the two-time gold medalist's invite a nod for past efforts more than his current level of play for the Brooklyn Nets.
We can argue about whether Wall trumps Irving, Lillard or Williams on the NBA stage. In the international game, especially as the third or fourth PG option, the 3-point shooting in particular limits Wall's chances even though he's made significant strides in that area this season.
So there it is, the basic reasons why Beal currently remains part of Team USA and why Wall does not. Perhaps if Rose can't go or the status of others changes Wall gets a call. Regardless, the hope is the snub, if it is one, motivates Wall for the final 41 games of the NBA regular season.
Bummer the Wizards can't get Duke on their schedule. Curry, Paul, Lillard and Irving that's a different story. Wall faces those guards over the next eight games. Get your popcorn ready, though hopefully to see the dishing Wall, not the 29-shot attempt version that took the court Wednesday night against the Celtics. Team USA certainly has no interest in that style from Wall. Frankly, neither does Randy Wittman.