Team USA loses in stunning blowout scrimmage against Select Team comprised of fringe NBA players
Team USA has a long way to go before the World Cup
Fear over Team USA's lack of star power heading into the upcoming FIBA World Cup of Basketball reached a fever pitch on Wednesday. Team USA, lacking the cadre of superstars that typically populate their roster, lost two separate 10-minute long scrimmages against a Select Team comprised of fringe NBA players according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. One of those games was a 36-17 blowout.
Video from that blowout surfaced late Wednesday via HoopJab. The game was fairly close until a shooting barrage from the Select Team made the score lopsided.
The Select Team, coached by Jeff Van Gundy, is not the one that trained with Team USA in Las Vegas. That group was loaded with young talent, some of which was promoted to the senior roster after a scrimmage on Friday. This group is one built around players who helped the United States qualify for the World Cup in the first place.
As World Cup qualifiers take place during the NBA season, many of the players involved were not on NBA teams. Four of the 11 players on the roster right now are signed either to G-League or foreign contracts for next season according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. The only former first-round pick on the roster is Justin Anderson, who played 48 games for the Hawks in 2018-19 and is currently a free agent.
Team USA's senior roster may not have its typical level of talent in this tournament, but they are not exactly facing a shortage either. Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton were both All-Stars last season. De'Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell are all expected to challenge for All-Star slots next season, and unlike many older incarnations of Team USA, this one has role players for almost any scenario rather than a thoughtlessly crafted group of superstars.
That group may not be perfect and may not stand up to traditional U.S. senior national team basketball powers, but it should not have had any trouble against a group of players struggling to make it into the NBA. Yet they were blown off the court once and lost another battle with that Select Team.
Westgate currently lists Team USA as a -225 favorite in the World Cup, but those odds have fallen significantly in recent weeks as players have dropped out. Fortunately for the Team USA, other countries are struggling with dropouts as well. Serbia, Team USA's primary competition, just lost Milos Teodosic to an injury that is expected to keep him out of the tournament. Canada will not have Jamal Murray, RJ Barrett, Kelly Olynyk or Andrew Wiggins. Spain will not have Pau Gasol. The Dominican Republic will not have Al Horford or Karl-Anthony Towns. The list goes on and on.
On paper, the USA would appear to have enough depth to weather that sort of storm. Most nations lack that luxury. But these scrimmage losses are concerning. Team USA needs to improve quickly if it wants to defend its crown in China.
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