It’s a Sunday deep in the middle of the offseason when players are taking some time to recharge their batteries and prepare themselves for the upcoming Suns season, which happens to be pretty important to get ready for.
Star shooting guard Devin Booker declined an invitation to play for Team USA while they compete in the FIBA World Cup this summer. Booker is one of more than 10 players who politely bowed out of participation in Team USA this summer because the competition is relatively weak and the US is more interested in looking great at the Olympics a year from now. Also, Booker seems to be prioritizing his health after multiple small setbacks last season as he’s entering into his five-year max extension.
Now, Team USA is still talented enough to easily finish top two among the seven North American, South American, and Caribbean teams (Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, United States, and Dominican Republic). Most of those teams have also suffered some attrition due to retirements, NBA commitments, and injuries. And if something wild happens and the United States really falls apart, there’s a last-chance tournament before the Olympics next summer, at which point the stars could come out and clinch a spot fairly easily, one would imagine.
In fact, the United States is still the overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup, even with this stripped-down roster. The senior men’s team hasn’t lost a tournament game since 2006, when the U.S. finished third under Mike Kyrzyzewski in the reboot tournament after the embarrassment of the Athens Olympics in 2004. Serbia and Spain are Team USA’s biggest rivals for the title, and since Giannis Antetokounmpo has announced he will play for Greece, you can’t count out the team that beat the Americans in 2006. But yes, USA Basketball is the huge favorite, even without Harden, Davis, Lillard, and everyone else.
We do have a Suns connection, though. Mikal Bridges will join the USA Select squad of young players to practice with the senior team in early August. Bridges is the fourth Suns player to join at this level, the prior Suns being Booker, Miles Plumlee and Robin Lopez.
Meantime, we here in Suns land have nothing going on. So, let’s remember some of the best of 2019-20 with the highest scorers who are returning for next season!
First up, let’s watch Kelly Oubre Jr. in action:
Oubre Jr. will likely be the Suns’ third-highest scorer next season. He averaged 16.9 points per game in 40 games with the Suns, and signed a two-year contract this summer. The energetic forward also put up 20 points per game over his final 12 outings in a starting role.
Next, the 21-year-old big man Deandre Ayton:
I’m expecting Ayton to top 20 points per game next year thanks to new point guard Ricky Rubio’s creativity, pick-and-roll mastery and post feeds.
And finally, my favorite one of all. Watching Booker to tune of a pair of the best ever Queen songs was just about the best highlights of the year for me:
We all agreed last time that Queen makes everything better, and you all asked for it — so here it is. The greatest song ever played over Devin Booker’s 50 point masterpiece. He isn’t Mercury, but he’s a damn bright shining Sun. @DevinBook pic.twitter.com/Ik8ewiWJea— Andrew (@AndrewLeezus) March 28, 2019
You can find the talented Andrew Leezus on twitter here: @AndrewLeezus.