II: Four Timberwolves players are competing this year
Even if the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to harbor reservations about Rudy Gobert’s participation, it’s awfully difficult to harness his aspirations to represent his native country of France, while three other Timberwolves players are competing for their countries this year.
Why allow anyone to compete? While it may seem unimportant to fans, the opportunity to compete on a national team is one of the highlights of any player’s basketball career. Hearing family and friends cheering them on as they compete for national pride, honor, and respect, is something that many cultures and ethnicities still cherish.
But what about the Timberwolves organization? Are there any benefits to the team going forward?
Don’t discount the benefits of motivated players
While you may not immediately think about it, motivation is a difficult force to harness for an NBA team among the players. Oftentimes, fans tend to view the money earned as motivation. But does it really serve that purpose? In my career, money only motivated me when I was already discontented with my job and wanted to seek new opportunities.
Motivation for NBA players comes in many forms, but the key ingredient is opportunity. The opportunity to compete with fellow countrymen for international recognition is a huge motivator. But beyond that, there is more at play as well.
NBA players, like actors and musicians, tend to be cast into roles that everyone recognizes and is familiar with. But on the international stage, players have new coaches, and new opportunities, and can reshape their roles into unfamiliar areas. Rudy Gobert could work on and demonstrate a perimeter shot. Anthony Edwards may become a secondary ball-handler who can play as a point guard in a pinch. International competition can expand and develop basketball players in ways that the NBA cannot.