No World Cup For Team USA? No Problem For Utah Jazz Fans
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – No World Cup medal for Team USA? No problem if you are a Utah Jazz fan. The Jazzmen who played on national or international teams all had promising performances.
USA basketball fans watched Donovan Mitchell and the team lose their last two games 89-79 to France and 94-79 to Serbia in Team USA’s worst-ever finish in the tournament.
“To see them getting high-quality basketball play in the off-season like this, I can’t think of a better way to prepare for the upcoming (NBA) season,” said KSL Sports contributer Sam Farnsworth on the latest Jazz Notes podcast.
Donovan Mitchell was the bright spot for the US in their loss to Rudy Gobert and France. He scored 29 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, dished out 4 assists. He even added a few steals.
He didn’t fare so well against Serbia, scoring 9 points and only shooting 4-12 from the field. Mitchell still needs to find consistency in his shot but Farnsworth and Cleon Wall, host of Jazz Notes, believe this could be a springboard for Mitchell.
“Would Donovan have had the experience he needed to have if (the biggest NBA stars) had shown up?” posed Wall. “Or do you just kind of say to yourself, we’ll take a hit right now if you are a Jazz fan (and Team USA fan) and we’re looking at the future of Donovan Mitchell and it’s good he got as much playing time as he did?”
Farnsworth agreed that this not only helps Donovan this next NBA season but also puts him in a great position for Team USA in the future. Will Donovan be on next year’s Olympic team?
“Maybe it’s a bias opinion, but I have no doubt,” said Farnsworth. “I don’t see how there are that many better players than Donovan Mitchell to put on Team USA’s roster. Everything that (USA Coach) Gregg Popovich has learned about him this summer, he trusts him. We are starting to see an international star in the making.”
Wall is not sold yet that Mitchell will be on Team USA in Tokyo next summer since guys like Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and James Harden could all be willing and able to play.
“If Donovan Mitchell can be this guy, can be this type of a leader and scorer and the type of guy we’ve seen in this tournament, I can see (the Utah Jazz) make the NBA Western Conference Finals,” Wall declared.
Rudy Gobert scored 21 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and blocked 3 shots in his team’s victory over the Americans. One of his blocks was on his Jazz teammate Mitchell late in the game that helped seal the victory.
“Rudy showed why he is so valuable for this (Utah Jazz) team,” said Wall. “He is so valuable on defense and you saw that against Team USA. They didn’t have a guy who could match up with him.”
Wall said Rudy is probably not going to give you anything close to 21 points a game every night and may even struggle against certain teams with small lineups (like the Golden State Warriors), but Gobert is going to save a lot of baskets on the other end of the floor.
“They (Utah Jazz) can become the top defensive team in the NBA if the rest of the team just plays competent defense out on the perimeter,” Wall stated.
“He’s just a total game-changer. I’m still a believer that if the Jazz needed him to be a scorer, he could become a scorer,” Farnsworth added.
Farnsworth also liked the way Joe Ingles has been playing for the Australian national team. All in all the Jazzmen who have played in the FIBA World Cup have fared well.
Top 5 Jazz Forwards
The duo also dove into the top 5 small forwards in Utah Jazz history. They were split on who should be number one.
Wall chose Andrei Kirilenko because of all the great things he could do for the team.
Farnsworth chose Adrian Dantley for his scoring prowess and helping Utah get into the postseason for the first time.
“If he could have had a humility check when they decided Karl Malone was going to be the future scorer here…and you had those two with Stockton, maybe they could have shot up the playoffs charts earlier than they did in the ’90s,” Farnsworth said.
The guys both listed Gordon Hayward at number three, but Wall thinks he could have been number one if he would have stayed in Salt Lake City.
Find out the entire top 5 list from both Wall and Farnsworth on the latest Jazz Notes podcast.
The Jazz Notes podcast drops at least weekly and can be found at KSLSports.com, the KSL Newsradio App, Apple Podcasts or other podcast providers.