Cade Cunningham was without a doubt one of the best players in the Team USA and US Select Teams’ practice scrimmages for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
The youngster and his Select Team were so good that they beat the USA Team in scrimmages twice.
Which has led some to question why Cunningham isn’t in the A team to start with.
The 21-year-old suffered a season-ending shin injury last season so he’s prioritising getting his body right instead, he explained.
“They go over and there’s so much traveling, there’s so much, you know, like real schedule, like team practice and everything,” Cunningham told The Athletic. “I wanted to dedicate my summer to really make sure that as an individual, I was ready for the season coming up physically and mentally. I think that was really the deciding factor. I didn’t want to join the Team USA World Cup team and still have to go to rehab and not fully be a part of everything that was going on.
“I know everybody that’s on the team is ready to go 100 percent. That’s why I wanted to be on the select team, to be a part of it but also you know keep my summer and keep my routine going.”
The Pistons point guard played only 12 games in the 2023-23 season before getting injured, so he was largely unable to build upon his impressive rookie campaign.
Other players on the USA team, like Tyrese Haliburton, Brandon Ingram and Cam Johnson also missed chunks of last NBA season but are set to be in the team’s lineup when they face New Zealand in their first FIBA game on August 26.
“Load management and stuff, I mean, guys who do that for themselves, then that’s what they got to do, but with me, I just think I want to play as much as I possibly can,” Haliburton said. “I’ve had a really good summer, so I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world.”