One of the worst kept secrets when it comes to the NBA is that if you ever want to try and predict the future in terms of who might become the next superteam or star NBA player pairing, all you have to do is look at Team USA rosters. Throughout the history of the league, it's pretty common knowledge that plans start to form when guys suit up together to represent this fine country. In this era of NBA basketball that's even more apparent.
- The Heatles famously concocted their plan to join forces during their time together on Team USA back in 2008.
- In 2010, the FIBA World Cup team had eventual teammates KD/Steph/Iggy who at the time were all on different teams.
- The 2012 Olympic team had LeBron/Love, LeBron/AD, and Harden/CP3 (and Westbrook)
- The 2014 FIBA World Cup team had Kyrie/Harden
- The 2016 Olympic team had KD/Draymond
- The 2019 FIBA World Cup team had Derrick White/Tatum/Brown/Smart
- The 2020 Olympic team had both KD/Booker and Dame/Bam (pairing currently pending)
As you can see, NBA history tells us that whenever the best players in the world get together, in the not-too-distant future we see some of them team up. Some may call this all just a coincidence, but not me. Recruiting is half the fun of these competitions. There are too many instances of Team USA guys joining forces to think it's all just happening by chance.
Which brings me to the 2023 FIBA World Cup Team USA Roster that kicked off their journey yesterday in Vegas.
Not counting the sets of players that are already teammates, we're going to live in a world one day where some sort of combination of players from this group eventually join forces and in my opinion, there are a couple of interesting options that I think would be fun to see.
The thing you have to remember with this exercise is something like sound like a bad trade or delusional, but when guys want to team up we've learned that players usually get what they want. The guys that end up joining forces would be something that would get you laughed off the internet if you suggested it at the time they were on Team USA together, so this exercise is going to seem crazy but that's part of the fun.
So if you had to guess what pairings may happen in a few years, what would you go with?
The easiest answer here is probably a Villanova reunion with Brunson/Hart/Bridges. Brunson and Bridges are both up on their current deals in the same summer and Josh Hart is in the process of negotiating an extension and could easily line things up just like the Heatles did. Would it surprise anyone if these guys teamed up together in the summer of 2026 when Brunson/Bridges hit UFA?
Another fun pairing I think would be interesting would be someone like Brandon Ingram joining JJJ down in Memphis. I would say a bucket getting SF is something the Grizzlies roster needs, and Ingram does hit the market in the summer of 2025. You can't tell me a Morant/Bane/Ingram/JJJ core doesn't sound enticing as hell. If Ingram wants to force his way to MEM, the Grizzlies can always use the salary of Smart (21M) and differ to make that happen.
Given the fact that nobody spends their entire career in Orlando, what about bringing Paolo Banchero to the Pacers to team up with Haliburton? The Pacers have needed a 3/4 for years now, and with Haliburton now signed through 2029, is it totally insane to think that maybe once Banchero gets into the middle of his 2nd contract he does what basically every Magic star has done and demands a trade somewhere else? By that time Haliburton should be right in the middle of his NBA prime years and that's a duo that would be insanely fun to watch together.
Could Anthony Edwards convince one of these point guards to eventually head over to MIN and become a Timberwolve? That's certainly a position of need these next few years. Or, if you want to get really crazy, what if we live in a world where the Pelicans decide to say fuck it and get out of the Zion business and Ant winds up in NO to play next to Brandon Ingram?
For all we know, the next era of NBA basketball could be shaped by what happens with this Team USA group, the same way the current era of NBA basketball was shaped by what happened in the mid 2010s.
With that in mind, let's hear what you predict because the one thing we know is that someone is going to decide to join forces.