Team USA is gearing up for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup with the tournament beginning Aug. 31 in China.
And for Kyle Kuzma, he seemed to be making legitimate strides as a player while training with them as his rebounding, defense, and playmaking had improved in such a way where him making the roster seemed inevitable.
Playing for Team USA in a non-Olympic year is often a great tool for young players to improve and it’s why in 2019 — which had seen so many All-Star players withdraw — is flooded with players still on their rookie deals. With the tournament coming up quickly, Team USA had to make their final round of cuts, sending just one final player home.
Unfortunately, Kuzma was the final player cut before heading to the tournament, according to USA Basketball:
The 12-man USA Men’s World Cup Team roster was finalized Saturday after it was determined that Kyle Kuzma’s (Los Angeles Lakers) left ankle injury would prevent him from participating in the upcoming competition.
Kuzma will now head back to Los Angeles where he will receive treatment on his left ankle in preparation for training camp. All indications stated this ankle injury is nothing to worry about, but it’s never a good thing to get hurt playing in an extra-curricular basketball activity.
Contrary to what was believed when the team selection process started, it seems the United States will very much miss Kuzma’s services. Kuzma played his best basketball with the team in their previous win against Australia, led by Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut, and Matthew Dellavedova.
However, in Friday night’s game that Kuzma missed due to the ankle injury, the United States surrendered their first loss in 78 games, losing 98-94 to the Australians carried by a 30-point performance by Mills.
Without Kuzma, the team loses a huge chunk of their offensive firepower, especially in the catch and shoot game where he was really blossoming. In all likelihood, the United States should be able to figure it out and put up a fight for gold, but their first loss in over a decade could spell trouble for this team.
For Kuzma, the positives are simple: get back to Los Angeles and make sure his health is as good as it can be prior to the 2019-20 NBA season starting.