What is the Answer for USA Basketball? – Team USA is normally known as the surefire favorites to win the gold medal every four years in basketball, but this year, they look anything but unbeatable early on.
They shockingly lost to Nigeria to kick off the exhibition games, and then followed that up with another loss to Australia.
Thankfully for them, they were able to blow Argentina out to get their first win of the exhibition games, but there are still several issues the entire team faces as they head into Tokyo.
They were outrebounded by a significant margin in their losses to Nigeria and Australia, but when you look at the USA roster, it’s not hard to see why.
The tallest player on this roster is Kevin Durant, but he’s not going to focus his energy on being the guy hustling for boards and boxing others out.
Bam Adebayo stands as the only true center to get any meaningful run on Team USA, but he stands just 6-foot-9 and isn’t going to be able to out rebound the opposing team all by himself, especially when they have 7-footers he’ll have to deal with.
In the modern NBA, you can have smaller guys rebound the ball with the 7-footers serving as box out men and playing small ball, but in international competition, you’ll still see a more traditional setup.
Another thing that Team USA needs to do a better job of is creating chemistry. Everyone looks like they’re playing like they’re just a bunch of individuals instead of making the extra pass and communicating on the floor.
Most guys on this roster are All-Star caliber players, but when you get in between the lines, hard work tends to beat talent unless the talent is just too much to overcome, which is far from the case this time around.
Nigeria and Australia are just two of many countries that play with pride and actually look like they want to represent their country. Part of it might be their underdog DNA and knowing that they have to earn each and every victory since the talent disparity is apparent, but Team USA needs to find that same energy and not play down to their opponent.
Team USA will obviously miss LeBron James for a second straight Olympics and won’t have Olympic legend Carmelo Anthony this time around, but this presents a perfect opportunity for Durant to go out there and show that he’s the best basketball Olympian of all-time.
LeBron and Melo had much better teams to work with in the past, so if Durant can carry this Team USA squad to a gold medal and prove they can overcome this rough stretch, then you can feel pretty comfortable crowning KD as the best basketball Olympian of all-time.
Team USA can’t control that they don’t have the size to out rebound and make life tough offensively for the opponent, but they can control getting good shot selection, making the extra pass and hustling for loose balls, among other intangibles.
The gold medal is still Team USA’s to lose, but they better wake up before another country catches them off guard again.