The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup is set to begin on August 31st. For those unaware, the FIBA World Cup is the first official event for countries to qualify to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics. NBA players from all over the world will represent their home countries in the first step towards competing for the illustrious gold medal. For the Celtics, there are potentially seven players who will have the honor to represent four different countries in the event. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker will represent Team USA. Internationally, Daniel Theis will represent Germany, newly acquired forward Vincent Poirier will represent France, and Semi Ojeleye may represent Nigeria.
Originally, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker were the only Celtics invited to Team USA camp. After a multitude of prominent NBA players withdrew themselves from competition, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown received additional invites. Regardless of how the players received invites, a heavy Celtics presence in the FIBA World Cup will provide the team with advantages ahead of NBA training camp.
Following a disappointing end to last season, the Celtics reputation was in question. The commitments to play in the FIBA World Cup present an opportunity to restore that underlying image. With NBA superstars withdrawing from the event, it is uplifting for the Celtics players to take pride in representing their countries. Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker have each publicly commented on their participation with Team USA, and their excitement to dawn the red, white, and blue. Their overwhelming excitement and pride has instantly spun the narrative for the upcoming season. The team has seemingly ditched the underwhelming, dysfunctional attitude, and taken a positive approach to everything coming their way.
Additionally, the players will have an opportunity to promote both the Celtics’ and their individual brands. Playing for Team USA will expose each player to audiences that may not typically view Celtics games. While each player is fairly well known in NBA circles, the casual fan with vested interest in their country’s competition may now begin to root for each player. This works similarly for the Celtics brand. If audiences are impressed by each player’s performance, they may become more prone to viewing Celtics games during the upcoming season.
Perhaps an even greater advantage will come on the floor. NBA training camps won’t open until late September. This gives Kemba Walker a chance to play in real competition with his new teammates before other new acquisitions participate in camps. Through both Team USA camp and the FIBA World Cup, he can begin understand the tendencies and strengths of his teammates. This provides the Celtics with a head start in developing their on-court chemistry in actual games as opposed to simulated scrimmages.
Each individual Celtics player will also get a head start on preparing their body for the grind of the upcoming season. By the time training camp starts, each player will have about a month of high intensity training completed. Although this could be presented as additional stress on the player’s bodies, the young core of Tatum and Brown should have no problem accommodating the added work load. It presents a chance to “shake the rust off” early, and roll into camp in better shape than other teams.
A heavy Celtics presences in the FIBA World Cup could provide a major boost for team in the upcoming season. Scrimmages for Team USA begin August 9th at 10 p.m. EST. The tournament begins for Team USA on September 1st at 8:30 a.m. EST.