After the World Cup fails, the American team is re-established with the Games in mind. Edwards and several others will remain with coach Kerr. Are there several stars like Curry and Durant on the way?
Error served. A team that should have brought the US national team back to the top of the world is sadly leaving the stage of a World Cup that, when things got tough, got very complicated. The first alarm bells rang in the second phase against Montenegro, only to suffer two defeats with Lithuania and Germany that will remain in Steve Kerr’s memory for a long time, interrupted by the away game against Italy. But the loss in the semifinals to a more physical, aggressive team with more attention under the basket only highlights the limitations of a team built with a clear identity by its puppet master, Grant Hill. Less inches under the basket, more versatility and athleticism to shine in the open court. A bet that didn’t pay off, however, and now Hill, Steve Kerr and the rest of the USA Basketball coaching staff must live with legitimate criticism of a group that will undergo radical changes ahead of the Paris Olympics.
Even against an incredibly disciplined, offensively disciplined Germany, the American team paid its price in rebounding, giving Wagner and his teammates their second chance in the series. A good dose of arrogance, seasoned with an approach that made the task much easier for a physical team like the Germans, condemned Steve Kerr’s team. Playing the World Cup without a true center back, with the exception of Walker Kessler, who is used sparingly and often only in garbage time and whose long-range shots aren’t exactly devastating on the rebound, seemed like a risky move even in Fiba competition without some big ones Top-level names like Jokic and Antetokounmpo. Those who were supposed to make the difference on the front line defensively have struggled mightily, starting with the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Jaren Jackson Jr., who is averaging a paltry 2.9 rebounds this World Cup, and it shows He’s a very different player than what he can do in the NBA as a power forward alongside a physical center like Steven Adams.
Not even his backup Paolo Banchero (average of 3.4 rebounds) gave important answers with his ups and downs from this point of view and thus significantly limited Team USA’s already not outstanding defense. “Germany dominated us physically,” emphasized Edwards in the semi-final, bitterly in attack, but with too many breaks in defense. After the poor defensive performance against Lithuania, the Stars and Stripes team performed even worse in the semifinals, finishing with 113 points, the most in Team USA history between the World Cup and the Olympics. Coach Kerr is also paying the price for his first experience on the American bench, joining coaches like Larry Brown, Mike Krzyzewski and Gregg Popovich who failed to win the title in their first Fiba competition. The failure of this group will, of course, place a huge burden on the future decisions of Grant Hill and the coaching staff of the USA Basketball team, which will inevitably arrive at the Paris Olympics with a fundamentally renewed roster. Prominent stars who view Paris 2024 as a Fiba-level “last dance” will most likely return, the likes of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, and the World Cup blips will also serve as a lesson in building the squad for the next round internationally. It’s hard to imagine more than a few elements seen in the Philippines, most notably Edwards, returning to Paris with coach Kerr. The road to the Olympic Games in France for Paolo Banchero himself, who next season will also have to accept the “bending” of his Orlando teammate Franz Wagner, who was decisive in the game against the USA, currently seems decidedly uphill. Team USA has failed across the board and to regain dominance they must look in the mirror, admit the mistakes they made and change their strategy. However, several superstars are expected to arrive to help the Hill-Kerr pair, who will not want to be missed in Paris.
September 8th – 10:10 p.m
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