James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, free-agent-to-be Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers headline Team USA's provisional roster that was released Monday for this summer's FIBA World Cup in China.
San Antonio Spurs great Gregg Popovich will make his debut as the national team's head coach. He and Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo have followed the formula of past teams as they've stocked the roster with shooters and big men, which are vital in the international game.
A total of 20 players have been invited to training camp, which will be held in Las Vegas in early August. There will be 12 who make the final roster, with the tournament starting on Sept. 1 with pool play games in Shanghai.
In addition to the star guards, perimeter scoring specialists Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, CJ McCollum of the Blazers, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors are on the roster.
Good shooting big men joining Davis include free agent Tobias Harris and Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Defensive specialist big men Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons and Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers are also on the provisional roster.
"This group of players was picked for a variety of different reasons," Popovich said. "Some similar, but you'll find some who are already stars, others who have improved year in and year out and others who are budding stars. Each of them certainly deserves the honor to have the opportunity to try out for the team."
In addition, Popovich has added six new players who haven't previously been on the national team. They are a mix of old and young, specialists and stars. Notably, current free agent Brook Lopez has been invited after his spectacular season with the Milwaukee Bucks. Los Angeles Lakers promising forward Kyle Kuzma has also been picked. Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, Boston Celtics young wing Jayson Tatum plus veteran defensive aces P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets and Paul Millsap, who is a free agent, will also be considered.
"It was important in the selection to have young players, older players, players who are going to become stars in time," said Popovich. "I think that was important for the mix."
"We've spent a great deal of time this year going through rosters for a lot of different reasons selecting the players we did," added Colangelo. "It's quite a group of individuals who have accomplished a great deal in their collegiate and, more importantly, their NBA careers. Everyone has real strong credentials, and we are pleased with the mix of talent."
A group of other young players, including rookie Zion Williamson, is expected to take part in training camp as part of the USA Select Team that will be announced later.
Jeff Van Gundy, former head coach of the New York Knicks and Rockets and current ESPN NBA analyst, will coach the Select Team.
"Jeff has been incredible and few people will know what he has done," Popovich said." He was our first choice to be able to put this together and make it a team as quickly as possible. He's a big part of all of this."
Team USA hasn't lost in major international competition since 2006 and has won the past two World Cups, the last in Spain in 2014. The core of this roster is expected to play for the national team under Popovich next summer at the Olympics in Tokyo.