Representing the United States is one of the top honors any athlete could receive in competition. Unfortunately for John Wall, he won’t get the opportunity to represent the country in the upcoming World Championships or the 2016 Summer Olympics. Wait, it gets even weirder. Wall is obviously the best player on the Washington Wizards roster, but it looks like his teammate Bradley Beal will get the chance to possibility play for Team USA instead.
The full 28-man roster could be viewed here, and after checking out the list, it’s clear that John Wall should’ve gotten an invite. Wall’s been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season, averaging over 20 points and nearly 9 assists per game with a much improved 3-point percentage, so it’s certainly a little strange that USA Basketball Chairman, Jerry Colangelo, didn’t even extend an invite. Wall’s been better than some of the guards listed, including Kyrie Irving and Deron Williams, and it boggles my mind that he didn’t make the cut.
So, why didn’t he get an invite if he was deserving?
Well, unlike the majority of the players that made the cut, John Wall didn’t participate in any USA Basketball events until he reached the NBA level. Let’s not forget that Bradley Beal received MVP honors for the FIBA U-17 World Championships in 2010. Colangelo and his staff likely take past participation with USA Basketball into consideration when making their decision. It’s likely that it played a big part in their choice to leave Wall out of the group.
It’s also noteworthy that most international teams implement zone defenses when playing against Team USA. Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach of USA Basketball, has always played guards that can shoot from the outside, which might be the reason players like Bradley Beal and Kyle Korver got an invite. Rajon Rondo didn’t make the cut a few years ago, presumably because he struggles with his outside shot, and that could’ve been the same reason John Wall didn’t make it.
Despite the frustration, there is a positive outcome to all of this. Even though John Wall won’t be wearing a USA jersey anytime soon, it’ll allow him to focus on his game without having to risk injury in competition where the United States will undoubtedly be the overwhelming favorites. Let’s be honest, USA Basketball will have a very high chance of dominating world competition with or without John Wall. He certainly could’ve added floor leadership and defense, something they might be missing from the set of point guards they’ve invited, but it won’t make much of a difference. It’s possible, but I don’t see any country pulling off an upset against a team led by Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and possibly even Chris Paul and LeBron James.
Wall has used these sort of exclusions as motivation and I have no doubt that he’ll do the same with this news. I’m sure he’s glad the Wizards will be represented by his teammate Bradley Beal, but being cut from the USA Basketball pool might overshadow Beal’s accomplishment a bit. Let’s hope Beal gets the recognition he deserves for being one of the top young players to get invited amongst a team of superstars. He’ll definitely get better by playing with the likes of Durant and James, so that’s the positive thing to take out of this.