- Advertisement -
HomeBasketballNBAWho will 'save' USA men's basketball...again?

Who will ‘save’ USA men’s basketball…again?

- Advertisement -

The USA men’s national team fell one win short of the 2023 FIBA World Cup gold medal game in a 113-111 Sept. 8 loss to Germany and shortly after the final whistle blew the tropes started.

“The rest of the world is catching up.”

“The talent in the US isn’t as strong as it has been in past years.”

“The Euros play a better brand of basketball.”

The world may be catching up, but that’s not why this particular group struggled this tournament.

Coming into the tournament, the thought was that New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson would be the team’s closer. Brunson is a solid player, but that’s not a role he’s fit for. He didn’t close many games, with Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton taking his place with the closing group.

The team entered the tournament with only two true bigs: Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler. Jackson, reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was out of position as the only big on the floor for the U.S. in many of the games. Kessler played less than seven minutes a game in the tournament. Jackson and Kessler never shared the floor, when it’s clear from watching Memphis that Jackson is better when paired with another big.

The U.S. in its losses to Lithuania and Germany were manhandled on the boards. Those two teams have legitimate brutes on their roster. The last talented brute the U.S. produced is Dwight Howard. Jackson Jr. and Kessler combined averaged less than five rebounds a game. It’s an issue in the NBA too. Of the top 10 leading rebounders in the league last season, nine are foreign born.

There’s no denying the loss is a bad look for the U.S. The sky isn’t falling, though.

None of the nine U.S.-born NBA players who earned spots on the 2023 All-NBA teams suited up for team USA. Had that been the case, you would have seen a completely different group. That doesn’t even include the likes of Devin Booker, Anthony Davis for Kevin Durant.

The US will likely send its “A” team to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. The possibility exists, though, to keep the current group together and let it jell. But that can’t happen after what we saw this morning.

There’s a chance you see some of the players from this group in Paris next year, but the team should look a lot different. Here’s who I would send to Paris if I were in charge of putting the roster together.


Trae Young/Devin Booker/Anthony Edwards.Steph Curry

Edwards is the lone holdover from the World Cup team to make the Olympic squad. The 22-year-old in the tournament showed he could carry a team when needed, and filled in nicely as a secondary playmaker. Each of the other three guards give the squad playmaking and shooting, and Booker and Curry are better defenders than they’re given credit for being.


Jayson Tatum/Anthony Davis/Jimmy Butler/Kevin Durant/Jaylen Brown

This could be the most versatile group of forwards on one team in Team USA history. All five players can score and defend at an elite level. Tatum, Butler, and Durant provide playmaking at either forward spot. Davis can slide over to center for stretches too, which would allow coach Steve Kerr to play three or four of the players listed here together.


Bam Adebayo/Evan Mobley/Chet Holmgren

Each of these bigs gives the team more versatility on defense. All three can be reliable scorers when called upon, but that wouldn’t necessarily be their role on this team. While Holmgren has yet to play an NBA game, Adebayo and Mobley have shown an ability to stay on the floor. Both played more than 30 minutes in 67 games, while Jackson hit that threshold only 22 times. Jackson is a fantastic defensive player, but he hasn’t shown he can stay out of foul trouble enough to reach his full potential.

I’m sure this isn’t what the group that makes the final Olympic roster will look like, but it’s a collection of players that would most definitely bring the U.S. another gold medal.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisment -

Most Popular