USA Basketball slims roster finalists down to 16

By Luke Wiersma,
Four more cuts to be made by August 23.

A Team USA roster that was already short on players thanks to injuries and various candidates withdrawing their names from consideration just got shorter on Tuesday.

John Wall and Bradley Beal, both from the Washington Wizards, and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, will not be with the team going forward, according to ESPN.

The numbers game strikes yet again. Wall is likely the victim of the mind-boggling talent point guard position, as the four remaining players at the position all have great credentials. One of those players is likely to still be left off of the roster, as keeping four roster spots at the position is overkill.

Bradley Beal’s inexperience and lack of an NBA resume at shooting guard was probably was the biggest factor working against the 21-year-old from St. Louis. His lone 17-point per game season just wasn’t enough to convince coach Mike Krzyewiski that Beal was ready for the international stage.

It is surprising to note, however, that Beal was cut before Hawk Kyle Korver, a seemingly average role player who’s only above average quality is his lethal 3-point shooting. This is always valuable to have on the basketball court, but the case could be made that Beal would bring that and more. In addition to the career 39.6 percent career shooting percentage, as Basketball-Reference.com stats show, that he brings to the team, Beal is also an elite slasher who can create his own shot and really energize a team with his knack for making the dazzling play that will bring the arena to it’s feet.

The counterpoint is that the team is chock-full of athletes who can do all of those things as well, like Derrick Rose, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Durant. Krzyewiski probably wanted a player who would instead fill the need for a lesser role on the team, one who he could insert into a game at any time without having to promise any amount of playing time at all.

Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo certainly supported this sentiment on Tuesday.

"This phase of the selection process was extremely difficult and very thorough,” Colangelo told USABasketball.com. “And it’s worth again mentioning that we are looking to select the best team, which are not necessarily the best players."

The Millsap decision at power forward is perplexing, as Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets just commenced his rookie season at 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes of playing time respectively, which fall much short of Millsap’s averages in recent years regarding those categories. Millsap also started shooting the three ball last year, another contributing factor that Plumlee simply can’t bring to the table.

There are four more cuts to go and 10 more days to make them.

Image via Facebook from the Wizards

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