Thursday, May 3, 2012

John Wall, future olympian?

The good news: John Wall is reportedly joining Team USA as a member of the select team that will scrimmage against the 2012 men's basketball Olympic squad this summer.

The interesting angle: This opportunity gives the Wizards speedy point guard a potential leg up on making the 2016 Olympic team.

The potential international buzz kill: Notable basketball decision-makers are looking at a 23-and-under roster format for future Olympic games.

Before we look ahead, let's focus on the present - and the present that comes with the invitation, which multiple outlets have reported. Instead of spending a second straight summer time playing in loosey-goosey charity games, Wall should be battling the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook during intense scrimmages.

Actually there was no fear of another summer fun circuit - "Nah, I’m cool on that, " Wall said the day after the season finale win over the Heat. "I’m done. It’s just workouts. I ain’t having none, that was just because of the lockout it was too much time."

Earlier that week, I asked Wall if he was going to attend any NBA playoff games in person and which point guards the maturing floor leader would study during the off-season. Seeing as he intended on doing the bi-coastal thing between D.C. and Los Angeles, Wall said he would hope to catch Paul and the Clippers in addition to the Lakers, who could face Westbrook and the Thunder in the second round.

Now Wall might get some hands-on lessons from those All-Stars.

Even with Derrick Rose's knee injury taking him out of the Olympic mix - big men Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Lamar Odom are also not expected to join the team's training camp - Team USA is still flush with point guard options. Unless Paul, Williams and Westbrook opt out or are injured before the London games, that trio will run the offense.

Team USA will train in Las Vegas July 6-11. After an exhibition against the Dominican Republic on July 12, the U.S. team will move operations to Washington for two days worth of practices before hosting Brazil in an exhibition game on July 16.

But what about future U.S editions?

Paul and Williams will both be over 30 by the time 2016 rolls around. Rose might want his chance at gold after missing out this time. Then you have the next waves of point guards including Wall, Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers) and Brandon Jennings (Bucks) plus four years worth of college players entering the pro ranks.

Participating now does not ensure Wall a future roster spot, but as Michael Lee from the Washington Post points out, Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love were among the 2008 select team members. The trio starred on the 2010 world championship team that one gold in Turkey and all are expected on the London squad.

There is however one potential monkey wrench that could prevent Wall and other rising stars from reaching the top rung of international basketball competition: the powers that be might go truly young in future years.

The Chicago Sun Times quoted NBA commissioner David Stern as saying "my own view is that post-London, we should be thinking about what soccer does and make it 23 and under."

In 2016, Wall will be the ripe old age of 25-years-old. Still the prime of of his NBA life, but potentially to old for the international game. Soccer does allow for three exceptions, but even if basketball followed that rule, Durant and Rose not to mention stars like Dwight Howard and LeBron James could still be in play.

At the very least, Wall's expected summer plans of playing against the best of the best with actual stakes should raise his game for the 2012-13 NBA season. As for 2014 or 2016, time - and David Stern - will tell.

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