Power ranking the best players on Team USA FIBA World Cup roster

As Team USA gears up for the FIBA World Cup tournament play in a few days, let’s power rank every member of the 12-man roster. 

2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men's National Team v Puerto Rico
2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men's National Team v Puerto Rico / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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Jaren Jackson Jr., Team USA
Jaren Jackson Jr., Team USA / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

3. Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jaren Jackson Jr. won Defensive Player of the Year. He is 23 years old. Safe to say, the future is bright.

Jackson will start at center and anchor Team USA's defense. He's arguably the best rim protector in the world, blessed with elite mobility for his size and a sky-scraping 7-foot-4 wingspan. Jackson covers more ground than any other defender in the NBA, with the possible exception of Team USA absentee Bam Adebayo. Jackson can switch one through five. He rotates quicker than a camera shutter, constantly lurking on the weak side while Memphis anchors the paint with Steven Adams.

Unlike with the Grizzlies, Jackson will frequently be the only big on the floor for Team USA. It's a debatable approach from Steve Kerr, as many international teams run two-big groups and prioritize muscle in the paint, but Jackson will seal off the rim. The question is, can he hold up on the glass and avoid foul trouble? If there's one real drawback to Jackson's whirlwind defensive presence, it's his propensity to commit fouls. We may ultimately see a lot more of the young Kessler than expected as a result.

Jackson's defensive excellence coincides with a dynamic offensive presence, too. Jackson boasts deep range on his 3-point shot. As the lone big in the starting (and closing) lineup, he's going to test a lot of slow-footed 7-footers who aren't comfortable defending in space. Jackson has improved exponentially as a face-up scorer who can beat closeouts and score proficiently on drives to the rim.

Other stars on Team USA's roster are better at creating offense from scratch, but USA can only let a handful of stars play traditional star basketball. Role players are a necessity and Jackson is the ultimate role player, capable of feasting on off-ball scoring opportunities and doing a metric ton of heavy-lifting on defense.