Why Are So Many Players Opting Out Of Team USA?

Beyond the Arc

by Ben Fiore

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum, Eric Gordon, Tobias Harris, and DeMar DeRozan.  What do they all have in common?  They’ve all elected to opt out and not play for team USA.

The current roster we have now for the FIBA basketball World Cup is

  • Harrison Barnes (SAC)
  • Jaylen Brown (BOS)
  • Andre Drummond (DET)
  • Kyle Kuzma (LAL)
  • Brook Lopez (MIL)
  • Kevin Love (CLE)
  • Kyle Lowry (TOR)
  • Khris Middleton (MIL)
  • Paul Milsap (DEN)
  • Donovan Mitchell (UTA)
  • Julius Randle (NYK)
  • Marcus Smart (BOS)
  • Jayson Tatum (BOS)
  • PJ Tucker (HOU)
  • Myles Turner (IND)
  • Kemba Walker (BOS)
  • Thaddeus Young (CHI)

With the withdrawal of several elite players, it leaves Team USA as a fraction of what it could be.  I do still firmly believe we are the best country for basketball on the planet, but we are definitely not as strong without so many star players. With no LeBron or Kyrie either, it just poses the ultimate question of why do so many players opt out?

Isn’t it a goal to be the next “Dream Team”?  Some players claim to stay healthy for the NBA regular season which makes sense considering that is their primary concern.  But to compare to the ‘92 dream team again, wouldn’t you want to be a part of team USA more than you would worry about injury?  Another factor is that it is only for a FIBA championship which is the world to other countries, but to the USA it really isn’t that big of a deal.  I like to think that when the Olympics come around that these NBA stars will opt in and play when it “really counts” for America.

Regardless, you see these guys having pick up games and practicing and training  quite often, so why not continue practicing against competition that you know is going to give you everything they’ve got to sharpen your game?  I disagree with the opting out but I do see why some players wouldn’t want to, especially with it not being a tournament as important as the Olympics. Hopefully for us NBA fans though, this will result in seeing a very competitive and hard driven regular season.

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