4 Reasons why Team USA has shown vulnerability at Rio 2016
Who could of predicted that Team USA would of began by severely underperforming at Rio 2016? I surely could of because it seems that every Olympics we are discussing how poorly they start the tournament. However this time around its different. Sure we haven’t lost a game yet but we haven’t played up to expectations either. We definitely don’t want a repeat of what happened in 2004. I believe there are a couple reasons that have contributed to our average start.
1. Poor Team Play
If you need a good example of team play look no further than Team Australia. Led by Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, and Andrew Bogut this team is the epitome of beautifully played basketball. In fact it’s the exact opposite style of what Team USA plays. Australia likes to move the ball around and get all of their players involved beginning with Bogut. Bogut is used for hard screens and has actually been dishing out some nice assists to his teammates. Not only that but the players on Team Australia are constantly moving around the court in order for the team to be able to find an opening and score easily. If Team USA wants to win this tournament we will have to get rid of some of our isolation play because honestly it is way too much. Sure we have many players which thrive in isolation situations but if we don’t move the ball we will have a hard time winning ball games. Not only that but our players are standing still when one player is dribbling the ball. We need to be moving around the court, running plays(other than isolation) and going for cuts to the basket because that will open up our offense for easy points. We can’t afford more hero ball.( I’m looking at you Carmelo)
2. No True Leader
You might think I’m crazy when I say this but I just don’t think this team really has a true leader. Looking at previous teams we have had the likes of LeBron James, Cp3, and Kobe Bryant leading our teams to victory. Currently we really don’t have a floor general. Who’s our leader now? Durant? Carmelo? Neither of them have ever been seen as great leaders in the NBA. Durant obviously preferred to let Westbrook handle that role while he was in OKC and Carmelo has constantly been criticized for his leadership skills.
Chauncey Billups said on “The Knicks Blog with Anthony Donahue” radio show. “Melo’s a good friend of mine, one of the best players I ever played with, but he’s not the guy who’s going to stand up in the locker room and give this rah-rah speech and get the team to rally. That’s not who he is”
“One thing he is, he’s going to come to play every single night, he’s going to practice every single day. He is who he is, He’s not that guy [who leads vocally]. But for who he is, he’s great. You’ve got to find another guy to make speeches, and another guy to do most of the leading. [Carmelo’s] going to most of the time lead by example. He’s not going to be vocal, he’s not going to rock the boat.”
Now these two guys are both great players and they will give it their all on the court but I wouldn’t really consider either as a great leader. This isn’t a shot towards either players game and if had to crown someone MVP at this point it would easily be Carmelo.
3. Uninspired Defense
If you know anything about the NBA you might recognize some of the players pictured in the above photo as some of the best defenders in the NBA. However our Team USA defense has clearly been slacking. We are constantly letting teams run backdoor cuts to the basket and score easy layups. Not only that but we are also being slow to defend 3 point shooters which is a recipe for disaster. Don’t forget that the FIBA 3 point line is 2 feet closer than the NBAs therefore seasoned shooters will easily make open shots from behind the arc. There is no reason why this should be happening with the personnel on this team. Team USA should be crushing other teams defensively but lately they haven’t. Why? This leads me right into my next reason.
4. Lack of Effort
I believe that our defense has been so awful lately because we have been underestimating our opponents and have been simply lazy on the defensive end. Some of this blame should surely go towards Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski however he has been dodging most of the criticism on the team recently. Many players most likely think they could just turn it on in the 4th quarter and win every game. However it seems they are realizing now that they can lose if they do that.
When asked if he thought the Olympics would be easier, Kevin Durant said: “I thought so. We wanted to strive for greatness.” And Paul George similarly said: “I thought personally we were going to dominate these games and they were going to come easy.”
I believe after these guys have seen how close the last three games were they will become more serious and give better effort early on in the game. I mean for crying out loud we beat France by 3 points and they didn’t even have Tony Parker, a 4 time NBA champion suit up for them. They have to understand that these teams will indeed put up a challenge.
Even with Team USAs inconsistent play we will take the gold medal home. This team just has way too many talented players to settle for anything less. As long as they lock in, play better defense, and start moving the ball there should be no scenario in which this team loses moving forward.