On Sunday, Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley became the latest player to withdraw from the national team ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Bagley will instead take the time to focus on the upcoming NBA season.
Stein added that the two players fighting for the final spot on the 12-man roster are Bagley’s teammates in Sacramento: Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox.
Bagley was just promoted to the senior roster following Friday’s organized scrimmage in Las Vegas, impressing the coaching staff during training camp. But it appears that, for Bagley, being on the roster of the national team is not worth trading prep time for the NBA season.
He is hardly alone. In his first season at the helm as head coach, Gregg Popovich has seen many of his preferred choices turn down the offer. Among them: James Harden, Zion Williamson, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Tobias Harris. Last week, Landry Shamet and Julius Randle joined that list.
Bagley averaged 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in 62 games in his rookie season with the Kings last year as the second overall pick in the draft.
At 20 years of age, Bagley could perhaps learn a few things from being on the national team. But like others, he is prioritizing his NBA career over whatever he might gain from Team USA.
It is a choice that more and more are leaning towards these days. Rest assured, Team USA will still have a loaded roster of skilled NBA players. But it is no longer the runaway gold-medal favorite that it would be if the best American players suited up.