In a result that sent shockwaves through the world of basketball, and provided some vindication for the athlete Noah Lyles, Team USA were beaten 113-111 by Germany in their FIBA World Cup semi-final in the early hours of Friday morning.
A defeat which will be seen as a disaster back home, although the truth is that outside of a fantastic coaching team in the form Steve Kerr, Tyronn Lue and Erik Spoelstra, Team USA didn’t have one true superstar outside of Anthony Edwards. Paolo Banchero will be, and Brandon Ingram can be, but they were missing that top 10 in the world player.
Which is where Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns comes in, as there is no doubt he is the most qualified player in the league to redeem Team USA in future.
The setup is almost too good for Booker, who will be hoping to win his first championship this season, and who former center Tyson Chandler was recently waxing lyrical about as well. Even Drake is planning on stopping everything he is doing in the near future to really sit down and take in Booker’s game, so as to really enjoy it.
There is no doubt Booker took a leap last season, averaging a league-leading 33.7 points in the postseason. At 26-years-old, he is about to enter his prime and is already a better player right now than Edwards is. Outside of his teammate Kevin Durant and maybe Jayson Tatum, who else would you want leading Team USA at the Olympic Games in Paris next year?
Durant is now too old to be thought of as a serious candidate, but Booker’s case to be the leader for Team USA is already airtight anyway. We all know what a big fan of the late Kobe Bryant Booker is, and he can replicate what his hero did back in 2008.
Bryant joined up with his country ahead of the Olympics in China, and was named captain of the squad as well. This was done in an effort to give the “Redeem Team” a legitimate superstar to lead the way, after Team USA had failed to win gold at the FIBA World Cup in 2006. That went to Bryant’s teammate Pau Gasol’s Spain, with Gasol also being named MVP.
Team USA would go on to win gold in 2008, and the rest is history. The appeal of Booker doing the same thing has to be great for him, and bolstering your Hall of Fame case with a gold medal or two never did anybody any harm either.
The likes of Carmelo Anthony never won a ring, and although Booker has many more chances left, the future is not guaranteed. Why not then hoist your country on your shoulders, and in doing so go and get some silverware for the mantelpiece to look back on when all is said and done?
From a more practical standpoint, Booker would be a dream for Team USA to have. Offensively he can do everything, and would not be restricted in any way by the differing FIBA rules. Defensively he is diligent, and is sure to take that up another level as the Suns attempt to win it all in 2023-24.
He also has plenty of time to speak with his teammate Durant about what being a leader for his country means. There are few better players that he could learn from, and the experience of leading a team over in Paris is a one-in-a-lifetime one for a player who has just recently seen his first signature shoe drop.
Most of all though, Booker is now ready for this moment. He is entering his ninth season in the league, and has been an All-Star in three of the last four campaigns. Asking Edwards to be Superman was a lot, and although he certainly tried his best, he is still only 22-years-old.
Booker has been to the NBA Finals, and can averaging 25 points per game in his sleep at this rate. He is the face of a franchise that includes Durant, Bradley Beal and Deandre Ayton. He’s even experimented some with being a point guard, something he could do for Team USA if needed as well.
Really then Devin Booker is the perfect – and we mean perfect – candidate to help Team USA get back to the top of the mountain next year. Doing so after winning a first title, and with the memories of Kobe fresh in his mind, would make this all the sweeter. The next 12 months can be a storybook one for Booker, and they can end with a gold medal in Paris as his country’s best player.