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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Should Zion Williamson play for Team USA in FIBA World Cup?

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, Zion Williamson has been hailed as the most gifted NBA prospect since LeBron James.

The 6’7, 285-pound phenom is expected to declare for the NBA Draft soon, and the New York Knicks are in prime position to draft Williamson this June.

But before Williamson decides to declare, he must make another NBA-related decision.

Team USA will play in the FIBA World Cup this summer in China. NBA players such as Draymond Green, Paul George and James Harden are currently in the roster pool and the USA team is looking to have the best 12-man roster equipped to win the World Cup.

So if the goal is the to have the best players on the floor, it makes sense to put Williamson in the roster pool, right?

It’s been reported that Team USA is eyeing Williamson to join their 12-man roster. Williamson would be the only amateur to be considered, and the only player to not have played in an NBA game.

If offered, would it be smart for Williamson to take Team USA’s offer?

It wouldn’t be wise if he didn’t.

Williamson accepting this offer works out for many reasons. First, it gives him experience first-hand on how the top NBA players prepare for competition. Although it’s international competition, the likes of Harden and George could give Williamson much insight on how to prepare like a pro.

Second, it’s a way to gauge how talented Williamson really is among the NBA’s best. Many basketball analysts have positioned Williamson to be a top 50 player even as a college athlete. The World Cup will allow fans to see if he really does stack up with the elite.

Lastly, to paraphrase Stephen A Smith: Williamson is box office. Williamson would be a draw as fans around the world would want to see a glimpse of the phenom around NBA talent. If Williamson takes the offer, the move would pay dividends for USA basketball just as it would Williamson. With LeBron not playing this year, it allows for a potential new era to get a head start.

Williamson will be the most discussed basketball prospect since LeBron entered the league in 2013. If he plays for Team USA, it gives him a chance to see where he stacks up among the worlds best. It wouldn’t hurt for him to take in this experience, while learning from top NBA players in the process. Besides, it’s a better experience for a talent like Williamson than competing in the summer league.

But whichever way Williamson leads, the anticipation to watch him at the next level will be real. Many questions about his jump shot, athleticism, skill etc will be asked within the next few months. But it will only increase the anticipation on whether the Zion Williamson hype is legit.

This is why it’s best for Williamson to showcase his talents earlier with Team USA than his NBA debut. Because if it works out, then we will know that it will be scary for the NBA for years to come.