Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. was named the standout of training camp in a straw poll of Team USA players taken by Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The American World Cup team wrapped up camp on Sunday in advance of tonight’s first exhibition game, and Jackson made a strong impression on his teammates.
“Jaren, particularly (Saturday), his energy and the way he went to the glass and went to the foul line every other possession,” Jalen Brunson said. “He was just really a force (in the Saturday scrimmage against the Select Team).”
As its best rim protector and most versatile big man, Jackson will be important to Team USA’s chances of capturing a gold medal. He’s looking forward to the international competition, noting that it’s conducive to his style of play, which often gets him into foul trouble in the NBA.
“It’s more physical in FIBA,” Jackson said. “You can use your chest a lot more. You can’t really use your hands, so that’s the similarity (with the NBA), but you can use your chest in FIBA just to get him off you or whatever the case. The defense gets a lot of benefit of the doubt, for the most part.”
There’s more World Cup news to pass along:
- Even after a breakout season, Austin Reaves was surprised to receive an invitation to join the Team USA roster, per Steve Carp of The Sporting Tribune. Entering the league as an undrafted player, Reaves doesn’t have the credentials of his more heralded teammates, but his performance with the Lakers caught the attention of USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill. “I was shocked,” Reaves said. “As a kid, you watch (USA Basketball) and you fantasize taking that last shot to win the gold medal. Now I’m here and with a chance to contribute and be part of it. It’s a tremendous honor personally and to also represent the Lakers.”
- Nuggets guard Jamal Murray will miss Team Canada’s exhibition games in Europe as his status for the World Cup is evaluated, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. The Canadians will play three times this week in Germany and twice next week in Spain before the actual tournament begins August 25. Canada will also be without newly signed Warriors guard Cory Joseph, who experienced an issue with his back during training camp, Kassius Robertson, who will report to his new EuroLeague team instead, and Oshae Brissett, who is rehabbing an injury (Twitter link).
- Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic tells Eurohoops that he’s optimistic about Serbia’s chances even though it won’t have NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic or new Thunder guard Vasilije Micic. “Given that it’s a relatively young team, we’ve managed well,” Bogdanovic said. “… We play a fast and attractive style of basketball.”