John Wall's chances of making the USA men's basketball roster for the 2016 Olympics just improved with an assist from Chris Paul.
The Los Angeles Clippers star and the top NBA point guard of his generation won't be part of the 12-player squad headed to Rio this summer. Paul, a member of the 2008 and 2012 gold medal-winning teams, made the revelation to SI.com.
After more than a decade of contribution to USA Basketball, Paul told SI.com on Monday that he is withdrawing from consideration for this summer’s Olympic team, likely ending his international career. “I feel my body telling me that I could use the time,” he said.
No doubt Paul was a lock for 2016 if he wanted in. If he doesn't, then a spot is open, which brings us back to Wall. The three-time All-Star and Wizards teammate Bradley Beal were among 30 players named as finalists for the upcoming Olympic team. Wall admitted he didn't have high hopes for making the team at the time of the January announcement. The point guard position is stacked even beyond the three clear frontrunners: Paul, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. Wall, Kyrie Irving and Mike Conley are the other options among the finalists along with Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers' leader initially passed on being part of the team, but was added to the working roster in February.
Having three point guards is common practice and good business. Even though the recent versions of Team USA lacked ball hog-itis, having a pass-first playmaker like Paul helped the talented ship sail smoothly. Wall is third in the NBA in assists (10.2) behind Rajon Rondo and Westbrook. Irving is certainly more shooter than passer, but he's also a former player at Duke under Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski
Odds remain against Wall making the team simply based on the depth available, but they're better than they were before CP3 told the world his plans.