Since the Dream Team, USA Basketball made their perch on the tree of exceptionalism-and rightly so.
Nearly 30 years after selecting NBA players for international play in the Olympics, their missions, way more often than not, have been accomplished in gold medals and in dominating form. That is until this iteration of USA Basketball lost two back-to-back exhibition games before breaking through with a 108-80 route of Argentina Tuesday night.
Lately, the whispers of concern for this Olympics squad have turned into roars. Some people believe that the concerns are justified. Others think the concerns are overreactions. I think both sides can be true and the concern is valid. To me, the concerns are only valid in the sense of the composition of the roster.
Look who is on this roster! There’s Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Damian Lilliard, Devin Booker (after the Finals). This is a squad that’s choked with offensive-minded, iso-heavy players. The Warriors’ Draymond Green and the Heat’s Bam Adebayo provide the majority of the defense at this point.
Defense and even the meshing of all of these iso-based styles are worth monitoring, because other countries such as Nigeria and Australia have NBA players and coaches. These same players and coaches have intel on the US squad due to playing them in the league.
Yes, the US squad has kinks to iron out before Tokyo, but they will eventually iron them out. As they continue to play with each other, they will find a flow that works for everyone involved. They are too talented not to figure it out. On defense, coaches Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr won’t let them struggle on that side of the ball for long.
In the games that matter, the US will be ready and will win. At this point, the cause of concern is minor. This squad, as talented as they appear to be on paper, will realize their potential and win the gold.