Team USA, led by Gregg Popovich, yup the 5X NBA championship-winning coach of the San Antonio Spurs and his title-winning staff which features Steve Kerr (who’s won five rings including two playing for Pop) has some work to do.
That staff also boasts George Clooney “aka” Jay Wright the 2X NCAA title-winning coach of the Villanova Wildcats. Former Hawks head coach, Lloyd Pierce is part of the braintrust as well.
And then they have players named Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, and Bradley Beal just to name a few.
So how does a team with those caliber of players lose to Nigeria and Australia?
Easily, by being unprepared, uninterested. Most teams in the Olympics now have NBA players, which has lessended the myth of the unbeatable USA squad to some degree.
This roster was thrown together and let’s be honest there’s plenty of talent to go around, and the team is still waiting for Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to arrive after they’re done battling for the Larry O’ Brien trophy against the “The Valley of the Sun.” They will trade in their “Cream City” attire for Red, White & Blue jerseys.
But again this team wasn’t constructed correctly. In my opinion, it has too many guys who wanna score and not enough guys to set guys up to score easily.
Not enough grit and toughness. Holiday will help immensely in that category, but he can’t bring it all by himself. They also have Draymond Green, and he’ll provide some of that for sure over in Tokyo.
But why did they choose Kevin Love? I mean DeAndre Ayton is the perfect rim-protecting, rim-running Big along with Bam Adebayo.
The whole notion of Love providing this stretch four skillset is a joke and they don’t need that. What they need is size, strength and physicality in the middle and Ayton is all of that. As Jalen Rose says, that Kevin Love pick was all about “White Tokenism.”
Now back to the losses to Nigeria and Australia. Both teams do have NBA players, and Nigeria is being coached by the well-respected and battle-tested Mike Brown.
His teams always compete and play with grit as we saw them do in their 90-87 win over Team USA. As far as the Aussies go, they’re led by Patty Mills (Spurs), Joe Ingles (Jazz), and Matisse Thybulle (Sixers), and just think they should’ve had Ben Simmons as well, but he opted out to rest and prepare for next season.
Notice, I mentioned nothing about Simmons working on his shooting (free throws and outside of 5-7 feet) which is the biggest flaw in his game, and the only thing keeping him from being basically unstoppable.
I’m on record as saying that Team USA is not guaranteed to win the gold medal in Tokyo even though we are prohibitive favorite. However, I still believe they’ll be right there and should win it.
But it won’t be easy and the rest of the world no longer fears them.
The pressure is on them solely, while the rest of the globe is playing with house money.