I don’t know the reasons behind the absence of Brandon Ingram, Paolo Banchero, and Jaren Jackson Jr. but one might think this stems because of their potential bronze finish.
While other teams would kill for a third-place medal, they perceive this as the ultimate “L.”
Yes, Ingram has prior respiratory issues but I think the other two have other issues.
Playing devil’s advocate on Banchero and JJJ but first up, I can’t see why these two can’t just swallow their pride if they aren’t injured. For JJJ, I know he gets flak for always getting into foul trouble but as one of three natural bigs in the squad, it’s impossible for him to stay away from the infractions. Yes, the team also has Bobby Portis and Walker Kessler but the latter is just in his second year (as of next season) and the other isn’t as defensive savvy as Jackson.
This is why Banchero is the other main big of the squad.
With that said, it’s even graver for Banchero because he chose Team USA over Italy because of the greater chance to win a medal. Yes, Team USA won against Italy but man, talk about kupal moves.
So without Ingram, Banchero, and Jackson, Team USA finished their monumental fall by losing the bronze medal match against the Canadians, 127 to 118 in overtime.
And of all people, they were torched by Dillon Brooks.
Disowned by the Memphis Grizzlies and now with the Houston Rockets, Brooks played 42 minutes and finished with 39 points, 7-of-8 from the three-point area, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Team Canada also got 31 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and 23 from RJ Barrett. Meanwhile, Anthony Edwards continued his top form with 24 points with Austin Reaves checking in with 23 and Mikal Bridges adding 19 – including two to send the game into overtime.
I bet this team would get dismantled in time for the 2024 Paris Olympiad.
With that said, do they have the right players to combat the top players who are also playing big in the league?
And yeah, Steve Kerr is right. Gone are the days when the rest of the world was afraid of the Americans. With that said, they might need to tinker with how they are in the NBA at the moment. I don’t know where they can train their seven-footers to be dominant big men but playing positionless basketball and big men throwing three-pointers are things that will not work in FIBA-based ball unless the team is familiar with each other.