With a spate of withdrawals from the Team U.S.A. roster pool ahead of the FIBA World Cup at the end of August, Aaron Gordon might soon get the call.
U.S.A. Basketball named its 20-man training camp roster ahead of the FIBA World Cup in late August and left Aaron Gordon off the team.
That was not an egregious absence on its face. There were still plenty of stellar players left in the roster pool who could hold their own and ensure the U.S. continues its dominance on the international stage.
That roster pool is not looking so deep now.
In the last two weeks, six players have withdrawn from the roster pool including All-Stars Anthony Davis, James Harden and Bradley Beal. Near All-Stars CJ McCollum and Tobias Harris have also withdrawn their names from the player pool.
Team U.S.A. is not hurting for talent — All-Stars Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton are expected to play still. But players are taking themselves out of the running quickly — both Kevin Love and Damian Lillard are reportedly on the fence about joining up.
That puts a huge dent in the U.S.’s roster pool for this tournament. And opens the door.
A door that Aaron Gordon might get the chance to walk through.
With all the withdrawals from the Team U.S.A. roster pool, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports the federation is considering extending an invite to several players including Gordon. D’Angelo Russell and Jaylen Brown are other potential players who could fill in.
It is still unclear if Gordon will get that precious invitation. But he put to rest any doubt that he would be interested in spending the end of his offseason playing these important games.
Aaron Gordon told Luke Hetrick of Spectrum Sports 360 he had not received an invite as of Monday afternoon, but he would be interested should they send one his way.
He averaged 16.0 points per game, grabbed 7.4 rebounds per game and dished out 3.4 assists per game. He improved greatly as a 3-point shooter, hitting 34.9 percent from beyond the arc and shooting a 50.7 percent effective field goal percentage.
It was a strong all-around season for Gordon as he re-established his presence as a defender and expanded his game outside of his scoring.
With a shorter 3-point line and a more focused role on a Team U.S.A. as a defender, Gordon could certainly thrive.
The other forwards in the roster pool certainly suggest Gordon is the kind of player that Gregg Popovich is looking for.
Harrison Barnes, Tobias Harris (withdrawn), Kyle Kuzma and Thaddeus Young certainly are players similar to Aaron Gordon with their positional versatility and stretch-4 capabilities. Magic fans certainly can argue Gordon is better than the three remaining stretch-4s in the roster pool.
With that argument, it may just be a matter of time before Gordon gets his invitation and his chance to play for Team U.S.A.
He will not be alone in China. Orlando will be well represented.
If Aaron Gordon gets the invitation and makes Team U.S.A., he would become the first Magic player to represent the United States since Dwight Howard at the 2008 Olympics.
Even though the FIBA World Cup has a much lower profile than the Olympics. This is still a big tournament. It marks a bit of a transition for the U.S. It will be the first tournament Gregg Popovich will coach the national team.
Team U.S.A. has since 2006 used World Cup participation as a requirement for players to join the Olympic team. The hope was to build a more consistent program of players and a commitment to the national team.
That process has worked. The U.S. finished bronze in the 2006 World Championship after that disappointing bronze in the 2004 Olympics. But they have won every major tournament gold medal since then.
But now it appears to have become pro forma again. There is not as much excitement to join the team, as evidenced by the many sudden withdrawals.
Orlando Magic Daily 2020 Orlando Magic NBA Draft Preview: Devin Vassell a strong fit not just for his shooting
More headlines around FanSided:— NBA Mock Draft: James Wiseman jumps to No. 1; Knicks surprise at No. 8 — What the NBA's December start plans means everything speeds up for the Orlando Magic — Orlando Magic seeking better value from best players — Orlando Magic should enter trade market from position of power — Orlando Magic: Is it time to cut losses and move on from Aaron Gordon?
That has opened the door for Gordon.
At the very least, Gordon has put his time in with Team U.S.A. If the program is really about building a program and having players filter up through the system, Gordon has done that.
He was the tournament MVP at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in the summer before his freshman year with the Arizona Wildcats and a year before the Orlando Magic drafted him. He joined the U.S. Select Team, a training team comprised of young players, for the preparations for the 2016 Olympics.
Gordon has long been a part of the U.S.A. Basketball family and program. He has both the talent, the fit and the experience to be a valuable player for the U.S. at the World Cup.
Even with all these withdrawals, there is no denying the U.S. has the most talented roster. A team full of high-level NBA players from spot one through 12. Even the full roster pool of 20 players invited to training camp are full of starter-quality players in the NBA, the world’s best league.
But the well is starting to dry up some. And Team U.S.A. is clearly reaching out to the next best on the list.
Gordon is rightfully on this list. Only time will tell if he gets the official invite.
Team U.S.A. opens training camp in Las Vegas on August 5. The FIBA World Cup begins August 31 in China.