When I first came up with the intention of writing about the United States Men’s Basketball Team, they were just getting ready to play in their 1st of 4 exhibition games in preparation for the upcoming Olympics. Now we are a few days away from the opening of the 2020 Olympic Games where the U.S finished 2-2, one loss coming from Nigeria. On top of those results, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love are now off the roster and won’t be playing in Tokyo. With this, the medal the United States could win might come in a different color than gold. So for those who have been following basketball for a long time, this ain’t the Dream Team. The US won’t have players like Kobe, Garnett, Harden, Kyrie, etc. Thus, if the US wants to continue with its winning ways, they’ll have to watch out for these 3 teams.
Let’s begin with the 1st team the United States will face in Tokyo: France. If the United States wants to win the gold, they’ll definitely want to start on the right foot by beating a team they lost to in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Quarter-Finals. A nation that has Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, and other great professional ballplayers won’t make beating them an easy task. Referring to the stats put up in the 2019 FIBA World Cup tournament, the US averaged about 87 ppg, a little more than France’s 84 ppg. However, France nearly had a field goal percentage of 49% compared to the United States’s 45%. Without players like Stephen Curry or LeBron James to improve the team’s offense and not allow other teams to shoot as well, this United States team already has a lot of work that needs to be done.
The Super Spainards
A nation well known for producing some of the best soccer players ever has also been known for having world-class basketball players. The first 2 players from Spain that must be mentioned are the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc. As Pau isn’t playing like his NBA self, Marc has been phenomenal for Spain as he averaged 14 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds per game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup tournament, which the nation ended up winning gold in. Other Spaniards like Ricky Rubio and Willy Hernangomez make this squad even more talented as they look to finally end their streak of winning silver medals and upgrade to gold.
Luckily, history is on the American side as the US is a perfect 12-0 vs Spain in the Olympics in men’s basketball. Three of the wins resulted in gold medals for the US. In addition, the United States won their last exhibition game against Spain. However, things change as time goes by, and that loss could possibly help Spain look back at the game and figure out what to improve on when facing the United States in Tokyo. With this, the U.S needs to keep its foot on the pedal and never let its guard down.
Down Under, Coming Up
Finally, in my eyes, the most underrated and talented team playing in Tokyo for gold in men’s basketball are the Australians. Many of you are probably wondering why I’m not talking about Slovenia. I mean other than Luka Doncic and Mike Tobey (who’s been, on average, matching/out playing Luka), there’s not much else that’s eye-popping or interesting of the team. But as for Australia, there’s Patty Mills, Aaron Baynes, Matisse Thybulle, Joe Ingles, and Josh Giddy. Four great NBA players and a star in Giddy who averaged 11 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds a game during the regular season in Australia this year. Most definitely worth noting this team since they handed America one of their 2 losses, winning 91-83 in mid-July. To sum up, out of the 3 big opponents, the United States needs to find answers when possibly coming up against Australia in the future.
Even though this ain’t the Dream Team or any United States men’s basketball team as we’ve seen in past years/Olympics, this is still a team full of NBA stars. Not to mention having one of the best coaches in NBA history in Greg Popovich will certainly make adjustments as the games go on. Especially after the exhibition games the team just played. Also, now it doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed gold, but the US is -400 favorites to win in men’s basketball. Nevertheless, as the now Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett once exclaimed, “Anything’s possible!” In conclusion, this ain’t the Dream Team but as always, go the U.S.A.!!