Alright, this is getting out of hand now.
I’m getting major 2004 vibes from this year’s USA Olympic basketball team. And they need to get this thing straightened out. ASAP.
They lost again last night in an exhibition match against Australia, 91-83, in Las Vegas. That makes them 0-2 in the exhibition period, and now the entire country is giving the team a collective watchful eye.
This is something that we’ve never seen before in the history of United States men’s basketball. Since 1992, when the U.S. sent professionals to play internationally for the first time with the advent of “The Dream Team,” the program had only lost two exhibition games.
They’ve lost two exhibitions in three days now.
Here are facts:
1. The world’s competition is getting better year to year.
2. Team USA is still trying to find a rhythm with each other.
3. Head coach Gregg Popovich is still missing a few key guys who are currently in the NBA Finals.
Another fact: Other countries have no business defeating the United States even with all of those factors that I just presented! Australia and Nigeria could both be good Olympic teams in Tokyo, but if you’re telling me that those teams are good enough to beat Dame Lillard, Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, and a host of other All-NBA level talent, you’re sadly mistaken.
Patty Mills led Australia with 22 points, and Joe Ingles gave them 17. Matisse Thybulle and Chris Goulding combined for 23 points off the bench. The Australian team shot nearly 53 percent from the field.
In the loss against Nigeria, the Nigerians made 20 three-pointers and posted 21 assists as a team.
I understand that offensive chemistry will have to come with this team because they lack traditional playmakers and are really heavy on scoring talent in guys like Jayson Tatum, Zach Lavine, and Beal. Having a guy who could break down the defense consistently and get everyone involved would be beautiful for this team.
Lillard could do it, but it doesn’t come as naturally as scoring does for him.
In the meantime, they have to crank it up on defense, while coach Pop tries to figure out what offense to run with these players. Twenty-plus assists and over 50 percent shooting just shouldn’t happen against this USA team.
They are too long and too versatile to not be able to switch and guard multiple positions on the court. The breakdowns are far too glaring.
It should be reiterated that this is not 1992. The teams around the world are considerably better than they were nearly 30 years ago, but it’s clear from the backlash this team has received that the standard for United States hoops is still super high.
So it’s time for these players to rise to the challenge, and meet it.