The FIBA World Cup Playoffs happening in China this week feature a handful of talented and cohesive teams who will contend for the title. Team USA was not one of those teams.
Many of the teams competing in this year’s tournament have been playing together for years and have gameplans that equal success in international play. The US has neither of these elements. They continue to throw together a group of young players a few weeks before the tournament and hope having a top tier coach will solve all of their problems. This team of “rising stars” had been torched by Cedi Osman, Tomas Satoransky, and Patty Mills before losing to France in the first round this morning. Chemistry plays a huge part in winning these games. Was this team talented? Absolutely, but it wasn’t even close to the talent the team normally employs for these types of tournaments.
In the last World Cup Tournament, Team USA trotted out a roster that included Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, and Anthony Davis. What the hell happened? How did we get from that team to this C-team? Ever since Paul George broke his leg playing with Team USA in 2014, players have been hyperaware of the fact that they could get injured playing “meaningless” basketball. Is the risk actually any higher at the FIBA World Cup than it is training on your own all off-season? Or do guys just need some time off? I’m not faulting any player for needing some time to rest but from what I’m supposed to believe from Instagram stories, they aren’t exactly resting. They’re still putting in work.
I’m sure Team USA tried to get the top guys, but they aren’t recruiting the “right” guys. They have plenty of wings who can guard multiple positions, but they don’t have any tough bigs or guys who can take over a game. Kemba Walker can definitely put up points but the team needs more than that. There’s more than one questionable player on this roster. Joe Harris is a starter for Team USA? Brook Lopez averaged 4.9 rebounds per game for the Bucks last year. Mason Plumlee isn’t even an NBA starter. They need to do better. They need a dominating force in the middle to compete with Rudy Gobert, Andrew Bogut, and Nikola Jokic. Andre Drummond would’ve been a great addition to this team but he dropped out to “prepare for the upcoming season”. Why didn’t Jarrett Allen make the team? He was invited to play for the USA Select Team.
Team USA needs guys who can step up and take over a game. Guys with an edge. Guys like Jimmy Butler. Like Devin Booker. Like D’Angelo Russell.
The United States needs to get serious about these tournaments because the other nations aren’t catching up to us, they’re leaving us in the dust.