LAS VEGAS -- Playing for the USA national basketball team is an opportunity, especially this year with so many veteran players opting out. The door is wide open for a group of fresh players to step in and become the new face of the national team.
Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox is on the frontline of that potential turnover. A last-minute invite to the festivities, he was a topic of conversation when USA National Team managing director Jerry Colangelo spoke to the media.
"Well, it's happened before," Jerry Colangelo said when asked about Fox's potential to make the leap from the Select Team to the one that will represent the USA in the FIBA Wold Cup in early September. "It'll probably happen a lot more in the future. It's just the nature of our business right now. When players can come for the select group and move up, that's encouraging for them that they have a legitimate chance."
Colangelo cited a similar roster turnover in 2010 when 12 young players, including Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry joined the team just two years after the 2008 Olympic games in China.
The experience paid huge dividends long term for both Team USA, the players and their NBA teams back home. All four of the players mentioned above went on to win MVP awards following their time with the national team. Colangelo sees some potential similarities with the current crop of invites.
"Some of the young players here are in that same boat," Colangelo said. "They have the opportunity to showcase … Donovan Mitchell, (Kyle) Kuzma, Fox, whoever they may be, it's kind of exciting. Because, if you're looking at them today, on the first day, there's a lot of good talent here."
Colangelo wasn't the only one to notice the level of talent and competition on the first day of camp. In his first opportunity to run the show, head coach Gregg Popovich had similar remarks about the players.
"This is a wonderful group," Popovich said. "I thought they were very excited. Very upbeat and played very well on the first day after summertime. I was impressed with the group."
Fox has entered the week as a surprise entry. Out of necessity, he was added to the national team roster from the Select Team as camp opened on Monday. He now has a golden opportunity to earn a spot and travel the world representing his country.
The 21-year-old point guard is coming in with the right attitude. He's sought counsel from those around him in Sacramento and he's walked into the camp with a fresh perspective and a hope for improvement.
"Just to get a different understanding of the game," Fox said of the experience. "I talked with everybody in our organization, especially Luke (Walton), and he was saying every player that he's either played with or coached who went to USA Basketball has come back much better, a lot better of a leader, so that's what I want to get out of this.
"Of course, if I make the team, help the team win a gold medal."
For the Kings, this is a perfect situation. If he makes the team that travels to Australia and then China, there is hope that it will have a lasting impact on his development.
If he misses out on a roster spot, you would expect Fox to use the experience as motivation and bring that attitude to Kings training camp in late September.
Either way, they have handed their young leader over to some of the best coaches the league has ever known. He is getting the opportunity to play against top notch competition and he is getting exposure that players don't often get playing in Sacramento.
The Kings can't worry if Fox might come into camp tired or risk injury. They need him to take another giant leap both as a player and a leader and this experience might be the catalyst for that development.