After a chaotic summer that saw dozens of stars drop out of consideration for the roster, and ato Australia in an exhibition game, Team USA is just days away from their first game in the in China.
The roster has been finalized, and it features just two All-Stars: Khris Middleton and Kemba Walker. There are a few established veterans, such as Harrison Barnes and Brook Lopez, but much of the squad is made up of young players with a chance to prove themselves on the international stage for the first time. That’s a cool opportunity for them, but also makes this one of the most vulnerable Team USA squads in years.
Ahead of the start of the competition, here’s a closer look at your 2019 World Cup Team USA roster. These are the 12 players that will be looking to make the U.S. the first country to ever win the tournament three times in a row.
Following Kyle Lowry’s departure, Barnes is the only player on Team USA who was also a part of the squad that won the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. An NBA champion with the Warriors in 2015, Barnes is perhaps best known in NBA circles for his ability to maximize his earnings. A solid role player, Barnes has nevertheless signed a $94 million max deal with the Mavericks in 2016, and managed to add another four-year, $85 million deal this summer with the Kings.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Brown is one of the many young players on this version of Team USA. Named to the 2017 All-Rookie Second Team, Brown burst onto the scene in his second season, helping to lead a short-handed Celtics team to the 2018 Eastern Conference finals, where they fell in Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. But he, like the Celtics, didn’t quite live up to the hype last season. Still, as his inclusion on this team shows, he’s a talented young player.
Harris is one of just two second-round picks on Team USA, along with Khris Middleton, and is perhaps the least well-known member of the squad. After playing sparingly in his first two seasons with the Cavaliers, he was traded away to the Nets a few months before they won the title in 2016. He’s taken advantage of his new opportunity, and over the past few seasons has built himself into one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. In fact, last season he led the league, shooting 47.4 percent from deep.
Few players in the history of the league have reinvented themselves in the way Lopez has the past few seasons. After making just three 3-pointers in his first eight seasons with the Nets and Lakers, the 7-footer started expanding his game in 2017. Since then, he’s rained in 433 triples, including 187 with the Bucks last season, when he took his long-range shooting to the extreme. He became a prolific 3-point threat, often launching attempts from nearly 30 feet, and was key in helping Milwaukee finish with the best record in the league and reach the Eastern Conference finals.
The other second-round pick on the team along with Harris, Middleton is in the midst of a life-changing year. He made his first All-Star team last season, helped lead the Bucks to their best season in two decades, as they finished with the best record in the league and reached the Eastern Conference finals, signed a massive five-year, $178 million extension in the offseason and is now a part of Team USA for the first time in his career. His offensive versatility and leadership will be vital on this young team.
Mitchell is another of the many youngsters making his international debut with Team USA this summer. The No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Mitchell was a surprise standout in his rookie season, when he helped the Jazz reach the second round of the playoffs, and was named to the 2018 All-Rookie First Team. Though he’s at times had problems with his efficiency, he’s one of the most promising young guards in the league, and has a big season ahead of him as Utah tries to make some serious noise in the playoffs.
Plumlee is in a unique position on this Team USA squad. Even at just 29 years old, he’s one of the oldest players, as well as one of the few true big men, along with Brook Lopez and Myles Turner. In addition, Plumlee is the only one who’s played in the World Cup before, winning a gold medal with the 2014 team. That experience will be key, even if Plumlee doesn’t end up having a huge role on the floor. If he does end up getting solid playing time, it will be due to his versatility; he’s a solid defender, and can pass well for a big.
One of four Celtics players on the team, Smart has built his reputation on the defensive end, where he’s tenacious and both willing and able to guard players far bigger than him. He was finally recognized for his efforts on that end of the floor last season, when he was named to the All-Defensive First Team for the first time in his career. Smart also won the Hustle Award last season, which epitomizes who he is as a player. He may not be much of a threat on the offensive end, but Smart will always make an impact on games.
The No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Tatum is one of four first-round picks from that class on Team USA; he’s also one of four Celtics players on the roster. He was a star in his rookie season, helping the Celtics get to the Eastern Conference finals, where he truly put himself on the map withon LeBron James. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team in 2018, but followed that up with a disappointing campaign last season, along with the Celtics as a team. Still, he’s one of the most talented young players in the league.
Another lottery selection on the roster, Turner has had an impressive start to his NBA career. The Pacers big man signed a big four-year, $72 million extension before the start of last season, and proved to be worth the money. There are few players in the league who can protect the rim — he led the NBA in blocks last season — and shoot the 3 — 38.8 percent last season — like he can. Along with Lopez and Plumlee, Turner is one of just a few true bigs on this roster. which means he’ll have an important role to play in the World Cup.
Walker is one of the most experienced players on the roster, and arguably the best. He’s made three straight All-Star teams, and last season made an All-NBA team for the first time in his career. In fact, he’s the only All-NBA player on this roster. He made a big move this summer, leaving the Hornets, with whom he’d spent his entire career, to join the Celtics on a max contract. Luckily for him, three other Celtics are on the roster, so he’ll have plenty of time to jell with his new teammates ahead of the season.
White is one of the least well-known players on this squad, and one of the biggest surprises to make the roster. He also has perhaps the best story. Just six feet tall after high school, he played three years of Division II basketball before transferring to Colorado for his senior season. A star there, he was selected No. 29 overall by the Spurs in the 2017 NBA Draft. After grinding his way through the G League, White finally got his chance with the Spurs last season, and has made the most of it.