There is no denying the best basketball talent in the world is American born. LeBron James, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kahwi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and the list goes on. The problem for Team USA in this year’s FIBA World Cup was that none of the aforementioned suited up in red, white and blue. Despite an all-star coaching staff, Team USA rolled out a C-level team in China.
Coming into the tournament with a 58-game unbeaten streak, Team USA breezed through group play with a 5-0 record. They were led by the likes of Donovan Mitchell, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Harrison Barnes, Jayson Tatum, among other second and third tier NBA “stars.” Is that a roster good enough to win an international competition? Maybe. But if the big dogs were on the court, it never would have been in doubt.
USA encountered France in the quarter finals and were beaten 89-78. On paper, the talent levels match up, but the chemistry these other big basketball countries (France, Spain, Serbia, Australia, Canada) have with their teams is much better than that of the US team. In the game against France, it showed. The loss would have been more shocking if team USA had their big ballers, but they didn’t. Losing to Serbia a day later in the consolation bracket was also not very shocking given that players, at that point, were ready to go home. Can we fault this version of Team USA for not bringing home a title? Not really. Hopefully, it inspired the best of the best to put on the jersey and represent the best basketball nation in the world on the international stage next time.