Washington Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall was always an unlikely candidate to make USA Basketball’s final roster for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and he agrees with that assessment. As opposed to his shaky stylistic fit with the international game or the national program’s wealth of elite point guards serving as means behind those long odds, though, Wall believes the deck was stacked against him from the beginning.
Wall touched on his summer experience with Team USA in an interview with Ben Standig of csnwashington.com. Clearly, Wall thinks the USAB staff made up its mind on his dismissal from World Cup team contention early in the process.
Asked if he was given a fair shot to make the final 12-player roster, Wall said, “Nah, I don’t think so, but it’s a part of the game. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to be there and represent my country. I wish them the best of luck and hope they can win gold…”
“I’ve been (around) for four years in a row. I think that’s enough time,” Wall said. “Everybody had the same fair amount of time as far as being (in Las Vegas) and playing. I think [Team USA] already had kind of in their mind what they wanted to do and what decisions they were going (to make).”
In addition to competing for a spot on Team USA in July and early August, Wall also trained with the national program last summer and the year prior as a member of the 2012 Select Team.
USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski, basically, have had ample opportunity to decide whether or not Wall is a good fit for Team USA. That his invitation to this summer’s training camp came came just days before it opened was confirmation of his long-shot status. Perhaps that’s what Wall is referring to by agreeing that his chance to make the final roster was unfair.
But that’s just the competitor in him talking. It’s indeed likely that Colangelo, Krzyzewski, and company weren’t expecting to award Wall a spot on Team USA upon inviting him to camp, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t prepared to change their mind. As Mason Plumlee’s sudden rise to contention indicates, the USAB staff is hardly set in its ways – they’ll choose the best possible team irrespective of reputation and prevailing notions.
The real reason for Wall’s exclusion is simple: His game simply doesn’t mesh with Team USA’s. Despite making strides as a shooter in 2013-2014, Wall is still below-average in that regard compared to competition like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving. That’s not only crucial given the shorter international three-point line, but also the ability of that trio to play nominal shooting guard and operate off-ball. Wall needs the ball in his hands to thrive, and that will never be an ideal fit on a team composed of America’s most talented players. It might be different if his defensive merit was what his natural gifts suggest it should be, but Wall still isn’t quite there yet.
Plus, USAB is committed to Derrick Rose. Even if the Chicago Bulls star wasn’t blowing away expectations, Coach K would likely save a roster spot for Rose given his unfortunate spate of injuries. But Rose is among the national team’s best performers so far, and there’s natural overlap between his role and Wall’s potential one. Falling behind a former MVP in the pecking order is hardly cause for conspiracy theories, either.
His shot to make the team fair or otherwise, it’s heartening that Wall is still rooting for his countrymen. And if he’s using his supposedly unjust dismissal as fuel to come back even better in 2014-2015 than he was last season, maybe it will have been for the best.
Do you think Wall was given a real chance?
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