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John Wall: Fresh Hopes For A Spot On The Olympic Team

He felt disrespected when Coach K was running it

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Basketball: USA Men’s Basketball National Team Minicamp
Jul 26, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Devin Booker (right) attempts to distract guard John Wall (left) during the 2018 USA Basketball National Team Minicamp at Mendenhall Center. 
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

When Coach K was running the Olympic team, John Wall could never make the roster. To his credit, he kept trying, but he never quite got there.

There were reasons for that of course and some of them were named Kyle Lowery, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Coach K also had a number of versatile guys in 2012 and 2016 like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.

Wall never stopped complaining about his omission and now feels like he has a better chance with Gregg Popovic.

Well maybe.

Popovich still has Irving, Lowery (and aging) Chris Paul, Kemba Walker and more. And as we have seen, the U.S. has a steady pool of versatile players which has been a big key to international success since Coach K and Jerry Colangelo remade the program.

Like centers, in this system point guards are still important but not as important because so many guys can help assume those responsibilities. Remember when Kobe said he would be happy just playing defense?

The U.S. is unique in having that kind of flexibility. A team with James and Green, for instance, would be next to impossible to match up to because those guys can play a minimum of four positions and in James’s case, five. They’re both good enough to switch positions multiple times on a possession if necessary. No one in the world has been able to stand up to that level of versatility, much less the ferocity of the U.S. defense under Krzyzewski.

The nice thing about all this is that Coach K consciously set out to making the U.S. team something special again. The 1992 Dream Team was a gold standard but after that, things began to decline and by 2004, the U.S. team was unhappy, lost three games and only managed bronze. Tim Duncan memorably said “FIBA sucks” and swore it off for the rest of his career.

The fact that Wall so wants to be on the team speaks volumes about how the environment has changed.

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