Knicks’ Bobby Portis calls for Bulls guard Zach LaVine’s inclusion to Team USA pool
New York Knicks power forward Bobby Portis is a huge fan of Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine’s talent and for good reasons. In fact, the former is already calling for the latter’s inclusion to Team USA’s selection pool for the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China.
— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) August 3, 2019
USA Basketball has seen a disappointing response from players who were initially invited, namely Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard, among others. From a 35-strong list of names, the world’s basketball superpower, as of this writing, expects 29 players to show up when training camp commences on Sunday, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Even Julius Randle and Landry Shamet have both begged off, leaving Jerry Colangelo and co. to tap the services of Denver Nuggets swingman Torrey Craig. No disrespect to Craig, but at this point in his career, he’s not the ideal Team USA talent that everyone’s used to seeing.
Meanwhile, LaVine is coming off a banner year where he averaged 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. He has morphed into a reliable scorer and, yes, shooter who’s capable of hitting 46% of his shots from the field and 37% from long distance.
Those days of LaVine being known as a pure high-flyer are long gone. Although he still has a lot of ground to cover in terms of individual and team defense, the former UCLA Bruin has shown the work ethic that promises to maximize his insane physical abilities.
NBA stars have harped about the impact that Team USA has brought to their career. LaVine, if given the golden opportunity, could take another leap next season. Besides, coach Gregg Popovich’s roster could use more firepower.