August 26, 2023, 10:29 pm
Imagine being an NBA player: Waking up at the crack of dawn and getting some weightlifting in, going to practice followed by hours of meetings and then back to getting mentally and physically prepared to play one of the most physically and athletically draining games to ever be created…and then to do it all over again for (hopefully) 8 months straight.
I wouldn’t know because I like to gamble.
Well that’s just what I was thinking the other day. NBA players have to keep up this routine for nearly 8 months, but in the offseason they get more time for leniency.
Unless you get the opportunity to play for your home country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
So you’re telling me that there are players that play in the most competitive basketball tournament in the world during the break that these players finally get to take after a long season? Absolutely, because the love for basketball runs deeper than just 82 games.
The real question is how does this affect their play in the following season and what kind of things can we expect from the players that participate in the tournament this season?
2023 USA FIBA World Cup Team
In order of age:
Paolo Banchero, Anthony Edwards, Walker Kessler, Tyrese Haliburton, Jaren Jackson Jr, Austin Reaves, Brandon Ingram, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Josh Hart and Bobby Portis.
We have a mix of players who are starters on their team or role players, proven and unproven, on the prowl for greatness and All-Star nominations. What this team has in common with each other is that they’re younger than most teams that Team USA has put out in the past.
This mix of players gets to learn a lot from playing with each other as well as getting the opportunity to work with some of the best coaches the country has to offer. The experience that they gain from playing this tournament can take them a long way.
What can we expect from them in this year’s group of players in this upcoming NBA season following the tournament?
Well for that we’re going to have to do some research on seasons past.
2014 USA FIBA World Cup Team
In order of age:
Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Demarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried, James Harden, Demar Derozan, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and Rudy Gay.
After researching the roster and crunching the numbers, we’re going to be taking a look at the seasons of Anthony Davis, James Harden and Demar Derozan before and after their FIBA World Cup games.
Name 2013-14 Fantasy Points 2014-15 Fantasy Points (=/-) 2013-14 Games Played 2014-15 Games Played (=/-) Anthony Davis 2806(15) 3219(5) +413(+10) 67 68 +1 James Harden 2995(10) 3722(1) +727(+9) 73 81 +12 Demar Derozan 2724(-19) 1882(67) -842(-48) 79 60 -19
After his first All-Star appearance, Davis elected to play with Team USA for the summer and that did wonders for his game moving forward. At this point, we know Anthony Davis is dominant, but we didn’t know how high we should be setting the bar. After the summer, he went on to average 24 PPG, while keeping up with his high IQ defense and stellar rebounding, after only averaging 20 in the season prior. That set a new normal for him and since then he has not looked back. Injuries held him back but if he got the full workload of the 82-game season in 2014-15, Davis would have scored nearly 3,600 fantasy points and finished at number 2 on the season. Anthony Davis would have finished number 1 in the 2014-2015 season if it weren’t for this next guy.
Harden dominated the season after the FIBA tournament as the number one fantasy-scoring player in the league. Do I need to say more? He took one of the biggest leaps that I’ve seen with a nearly 800-point differential. He upgraded every single aspect of his game and the difference showed on the court as he continued to dominate for years after this summer.
Derozan got the short end of the stick. He got hit with the injury bug and took a step down averaging fewer points on a lower efficiency. This is what happens from time to time, players do tend to have a higher chance of getting hurt when they overwork themselves and he was one of those players.
2019 USA FIBA World Cup Team
In order of age:
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Donovan Mitchell, Myles Turner, Derrick White, Marcus Smart, Harrison Barnes, Joe Harris, Khris Middleton, Kemba Walker, Mason Plumlee and Brook Lopez.
After researching the roster and crunching the numbers, we’re going to be taking a look at the seasons of Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown, and Kemba Walker.
Name 2018-19 Fantasy Points(Rank) 2019-20 Fantasy Points(Rank) (=/-) 2018-19 Games Played 2019-20 Games Played (=/-)* Jayson Tatum 2227(50) 2544(15) -317(+35) 79 66 -13 Jaylen Brown 1592(124) 1817(61) -225(+63) 74 57 -17 Kemba Walker 3320(12) 1842(58) -1468(46) 82 56 -26
*will not be putting weight on the games missed due to COVID
The point total doesn’t show for it but Tatum went from averaging 15.7 PPG to 23.4 PPG and took over as the leader of the Boston Celtics this season. He only played two games for Team USA, but he is a product of his environment so if he didn’t get this opportunity to experience it, he wouldn’t have taken off the way he did. Jayson would have ended with nearly 2,800 fantasy points with a top-10 fantasy finish compared to finishing at 15.
Brown must’ve taken everything that Tatum took from that experience because he also took a step forward from averaging 13.0 PPG to 20.3 PPG. He got a full workload during his time there and you can see how that helped him as he improved his efficiency. If Jaylen had played up to par with games that were played that season, he would have ended with 2,300 fantasy points with a top-30 fantasy finish.
This is where things take a turn. Kemba Walker went into the 2019 summer with Team USA and killed it. He led them in scoring and was the leader of this squad. The sights were set on the NBA season and though he was great in the games he played, this was the start of the unraveling of Walker. He racked up injuries this season that would start his decline as the 2019-2020 season was the last he was an All-Star. The extra work that he put into the offseason could have been more of a factor than people think and to this day we are going to wonder what could Kemba have been. Kemba still finished in the top 60 with his ceiling finish in the top 30.
Here are the trends that I’ve been able to pick up on after doing these studies.
Want to get access to Arnold’s key insights for this season and beyond? You’ll need to have a FANTASYPASS membership. Click here to learn more and sign up!
Premium Access Required