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Ant wasn't cool with bench role on Team USA: 'We don’t have a Kobe'

Joe Murphy / National Basketball Association / Getty

Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards almost wasn't a starter for Team USA heading into the FIBA World Cup.

The shooting guard revealed on Thursday that head coach Steve Kerr was planning on bringing him off the bench at the beginning of training camp. It's a tactic that's been used before: Dwyane Wade famously led Team USA in scoring at the 2008 Olympics as a reserve, according to The Athletic's Joe Vardon.

"I mean, of course I wasn't cool with it," said Edwards, per Vardon. "If that's what it takes, I mean, I am willing to do it, but nah, I'm never cool with that. … He (Kerr) said Dwyane Wade came off the bench when Kobe played. I was like, 'All right, we don't have a Kobe, but all right.'"

The coaching staff agreed that Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Brandon Ingram, and Jaren Jackson Jr. should start games, but deliberated between Edwards and Brooklyn Nets wing Cam Johnson for the final spot, according to Vardon.

The decision to start Edwards paid off. The 22-year-old led the Americans in scoring during exhibition play, averaging 19.2 points while helping Team USA go undefeated in friendly competition. He dropped 34 points in the squad's last game against Germany, scoring 12 of them in the final quarter.

Kerr declared Edwards 'the guy' after the win.

Team USA has gone almost 10 years without winning a World Cup, taking down Serbia in Spain to win in 2014. The Americans open up their group play versus New Zealand on Saturday and will later face off against Greece and Jordan.

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