In the second full day of FIBA World Cup action, several Minnesota Timberwolves players took to the court to represent their countries. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Team Canada secured a big win over Lebanon, while Karl-Anthony Towns and the Dominican Republic took down Italy.
But the biggest story of the day was concerning Rudy Gobert. Despite his nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks, Team France was upset by Latvia 88-86 in the first round of play. The loss eliminated France from medal contention at the World Cup.
France will play Lebanon next, but there will be far less motivation for the team with their ultimate goal of a gold medal now out of reach. However, this could end up being a good thing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
France’s loss could give the Minnesota Timberwolves a boost.
Heading into World Cup play, one of the biggest narratives was surrounding Rudy Gobert’s health. The big man missed a handful of games due to injury last season, and many wondered if his participation in Eurobasket in 2022 may have contributed to his slight dip in production during the 2022-23 NBA season.
This naturally led to speculation about whether he should be playing for France at all this summer. Many fans of the Timberwolves hoped that he would sit World Cup competition out to preserve his body for the upcoming NBA season.
When Gobert announced that he would represent his home country once again, some worried that he would once again be putting additional strain on his body before a grueling 82-game NBA schedule. But with France now eliminated, those concerns have shrunk significantly.
Now, not only will Rudy theoretically be in better physical shape heading into his season with Minnesota, but he will also have a chip on his shoulder. France was supposed to be one of the main challengers to the US at the World Cup, and Gobert will have some extra motivation to show out with the Wolves this season.