With the news that Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox will withdraw from Team USA to focus on the upcoming season, there are now 13 players competing for 12 spots on head Gregg Popovich’s FIBA Basketball World Cup roster. In other words, there is just one more cut to be made before the tournament tips off on August 31, and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma thinks he’s done enough to make the final cut.
After Team USA’s 90-81 win over Spain on Friday, Kuzma told Kyle Goon of the OC Register that he feels like he’s done enough to make the 12-man roster, which is expected to be finalized after the team’s exhibition game against Australia on Thursday:
In a year in which his more heralded teammates LeBron James and Anthony Davis have bowed out of international duty, Kuzma has a golden opportunity to represent the Lakers on Team USA. Asked if he’s done enough to make the final roster, Kuzma said yes.
“I’m not one to really grade my performances, but I think my energy was at a high level,” he said. “That’s the only thing I can really control.”
Kuzma hasn’t put up gaudy stats in his two outings with Team USA, but he’s been a positive on the team with his passing and rebounding. In fact, in Friday’s game against Spain, Kuzma posted a team-high box plus-minus of +13. In the previous game, he finished with a box plus-minus of +11.
Additionally, Kuzma has been able to shoot the ball at an efficient clip, making 60 percent of his shot attempts, including 66.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. While that’s probably not sustainable, it’s still a good case for him to make the team.
Unless Kuzma self destructs when Team USA takes on Australia on Thursday, expect the 24-year-old forward to dawn the red, white and blue unis in China later this month.