On Thursday, USA Basketball announced the 29 players who were finalists for the FIBA Women’s World Cup roster. To no surprise, Elena Delle Donne was on it.
Here is a list of all the players who made it:
Team USA’s finalists for the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup
|Napheesa Collier||Connecticut Huskies||G/F||21|
|ELENA DELLE DONNE||MYSTICS||F||28|
|Asia Durr||Louisville Cardinals||G||20|
|Kelsey Mitchell||Ohio State Buckeyes||G||22|
|Katie Lou Samuelson||Connecticut Huskies||G/F||20|
|A'ja Wilson||South Carolina Gamecocks||F||21|
Here are some takeaways.
Barring injury, EDD’s on the team
But seriously, Delle Donne is in the prime of her career and has always been in the MVP conversation. She’s also regularly made Team USA commitments since her WNBA career started. Therefore, there’s no reason why EDD WON’T be on this team unless she’s injured.
Root for Stefanie Dolson to make the final roster, even if she’s on the outside looking in
The Mystics are one of the more talented teams in the WNBA now, but only two players on this team ever wore a Mystics jersey. Delle Donne’s one, but Stefanie Dolson is the other. Though Dolson had to go in last year’s blockbuster deal for Delle Donne, she shined last season for the Sky and made her second All-Star team.
Because USA Basketball has generally relied on veterans to take every roster spot despite recent statements to the contrary, it’s unlikely to see Dolson take over Brittney Griner, Sylvia Fowles, or Tina Charles. But that’s not going to stop me from hoping that it happens.
Don’t expect to see a big “Changing of the Guard” with the guards
Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (above) have been Team USA’s starting backcourt since the 2008 Olympics, and they were reserves back in 2004. They’ve won four consecutive Olympic Gold Medals and even won nearly every FIBA World Championship in that time. They’re easily the most accomplished guards in USA Basketball history.
However, there’s a problem.
Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus (above) are Bird’s and Taurasi’s backups for Team USA. All four of these players are well into their 30’s, and all have played together for at least the past two Olympic cycles. Though I like Layshia Clarendon’s play last season for Atlanta, and the fact that several other star guards and college stars made this lineup, it’s still an uphill climb for them.
Unless Bird, Taurasi, Whalen, and/or Augustus voluntarily decline a spot on the team, like Bradley Beal did to the men’s team for the Olympics, I don’t see much change at the top.
There’s a fair argument that you don’t fix something that isn’t broken. After all, all four of these guards may be past their primes, but they’re still elite WNBA guards. But the problem is that it’s stifled chances for other American guards to wear the red, white, and blue, to the point where there will be a talent vacuum in the backcourt sooner rather than later.
I discussed this with FIBA’s Paul Nilsen earlier about what’s ahead for Team USA. He concurred that the Americans will look quite vulnerable in the backcourt if they don’t start replacing some of the members of the “olde guarde,” perhaps even now.
I’ll gladly eat crow if there’s a shakeup. But again, I don’t see it happening when the final roster is named.
Team USA is still the favorite, but they may not have the chemistry of past squads
The Americans are going to be the favorites on paper. Even if there’s a major shakeup on the team from their 2016 Olympic squad, Team USA could still rely on athleticism, though their chemistry could be shaky.
If the Americans do shake up the backcourt with a lot of youth, there’s a chance some other more experienced teams could surprise them in a game, even if they aren’t as deep.
So congrats to Delle Donne for getting on this list, and I’m hoping Dolson can find a way to get on that final roster.