PJ Tucker is the only Houston Rocket on the USA Basketball roster. Tucker also just survived the most recent round of roster cuts. Here’s to hoping he advances past the next round of roster cuts!
Team USA basketball has always been able to get star players to participate in the past as many view the opportunity to play the game they love for their country as an honor. This go-round has been quite different as nearly every star who was invited declined the opportunity. Even the Rockets own James Harden declined, in addition to Eric Gordon.
When those two declined, it seemed natural that PJ Tucker would also follow suit to focus on the revamped Western Conference. However, he decided to stay, which surprised some around the league.
It provided a good opportunity for an often-overlooked player like Tucker to get national exposure. Tucker was named to the next round of roster cuts, which saw Thaddeus Young and Bam Adebayo get cut. There will be more cuts on the 17th as Team USA goes to California for additional training next week.
Tucker is a smaller 3-&-D forward who can shoot from deep, which would bode well in the international game. He is a bit undersized to be labelled a stretch four, but his three point shooting is likely to help him make the roster cut on the USA Basketball roster, as he shot 45.6% from deep in the post-season and nearly 38% from deep in the regular season. His ability to play defense and get back on the other end is like none other, especially on the USA basketball roster this year..
Because of this ability, its expected Tucker will make the roster of the final 12. This is best illustrated by what Team USA assistant Steve Kerr had to say about Tucker when speaking to Ben Golliver of the Washington Post:
“He’s given us fits the last couple of years with his offensive rebounding and his defense. It’s much more fun to play with P.J. than against him. He’s physical, smart and a good leader and teammate. There’s always a place on any team for a guy like P.J. He’s been around the world, literally.”
Tucker isn’t unfamiliar with the international basketball landscape, as he’s played in the Israel Premier League, the Ukranian Basketball Super League, and the Sutor Basket Montegranaro league in Italy. Tucker also played overseas for the Bundeslinga German professional league in 2012, and helped his team win a championship while winning MVP of the Finals in the same year.
Tucker is the only Rockets player on the roster and is representing the Rockets well also. Hopefully his strong play continues and hopefully he will make the final roster announced on August 17th!