Team USA basketball team taking shape as NBA stars look to Australia

The list of NBA stars firming to take on Australia in two matches in Melbourne later this year is beginning to take shape.

Team USA, to be coached by legendary San Antonio Spurs mentor Gregg Popovic, won’t be short of star power when they make the trip down under.

According to New York Times reporter Marc Stein, multiple NBA All-Stars are likely to join the team for their FIBA World Cup warm-up games.

While Aussie basketball fans are unlikely to see the likes of LeBron James or Steph Curry visit our shores, former MVP and Houston Rockets guard James Harden headlines Stein’s list of players who could be available.

NBA stars Anthony Davis, James Harden and Kemba Walker are among several other high-profile players likely to suit up for Team USA when they visit Australia later this year. Pictures: Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Utah Jazz combo guard Donovan Mitchell and even projected number one draft pick Zion Williamson have been touted as potential players.

The aforementioned five players are all massive names in the US – but if you aren’t familiar with all of them, here is a quick breakdown.

James Harden – shooting guard, Houston Rockets

The reigning league MVP and 2018/19 scoring champion went on a near unprecedented tear during the regular season.

Known for his bulky frame for his position, his handles and his ice-cold step-back three-point shot, Harden is the most prolific scorer in the NBA today.

He might not have boast the insane shooting percentages the likes of Steph Curry can point to, but Harden is a walking bucket who gives even the best defenders nightmares.

In addition to his all-round scoring ability, Harden is a good rebounder and an excellent passer.

The Rockets superstar averaged 36 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists per game this season.

Anthony Davis – center, New Orleans Pelicans

Davis dominated headlines this season after a messy attempted separation from the Pelicans, but don’t let that distract you from what he can do on the court.

‘The Brow’ is a modern day monster, a beast for defenders to handle around the basket, but also a player who boasts some finesse around the perimeter.

The former number one draft pick can hit three and has a nice mid-range shot, but where Davis really shines is in transition.

His speed and agility for his size are virtually unmatched in the NBA – making him one of the toughest players on the planet to guard.

Though he may find himself with a different NBA team by the time Team USA touches down in Australia, Davis is not a guy you want to mess with.

Kemba Walker – point guard, Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte are perennial underachievers, but that shouldn’t be counted against ‘Cardiac’ Kemba.

Walker shot to prominence as a college player, with his electrifying play and vicious step-back guiding UCONN to the NCAA championship in 2011.

Though it took him a couple of seasons to find his feet in the NBA, Walker is a three-time NBA All-Star with a deadly three-point shot and handles to match.

The Hornets superstar is due for a big payday as a free agent, and is sure to have the interest of several NBA teams – particularly those in need of a point guard.

Donovan Mitchell – combo guard, Utah Jazz

Second-year NBA player and NBA teammate of Aussies Joe Ingles and Dante Exum, Donovan Mitchell was one of the surprise packets of the 2017-18 season.

As a rookie, Mitchell fought his way into the Jazz’s starting lineup, eventually sparking an interesting debate (and somewhat petty feud) with Ben Simmons as to who would win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.

Though the Australian star prevailed, Mitchell proved he was no one-hit wonder this season.

Showing very few signs of second-year blues, Mitchell’s versatile scoring and capable defence helped the Jazz to the playoffs for a third straight season.

Seen by many as the future of the Utah Jazz, it will be interesting to see if the playful Mitchell will stir up the likes of Ingles and Exum.

Zion Williamson – power forward, Duke University

Williamson is all but certain to be selected first in the NBA draft by the Pelicans, who won the first pick in the draft lottery in May.

Few players in history have attracted the kind of hype Williamson has in his lone year at college – only the hysteria surrounding LeBron James would compare.

The Duke standout is seen as a generational talent.

He boasts a one-of-a-kind physical frame and a bruising playing style that truly made him look like a man amongst boys in college.

We don’t know much about how Williamson’s game will translate to the NBA level, but we know this – if he’s going downhill, get the hell out of the way.

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