After flipping and only seventh in the last World Cup in 2019, the Americans this time built a stronger team that includes several NBA stars. Without a doubt, they have by far the most talent among all the participants in the Olympic tournament. However, this does not mean that they will win in Japan – if at all – without problems. Friendly matches lit the first warning light. The American team in Las Vegas surrendered first to Nigeria 87:90, then Australia 83:91. On Tuesday they beat Argentina 108:80, giving American fans some optimism. The final test will be the weekend’s confrontations with Australia and Spain, which in the 21st century have been a team capable of challenging the United States even in the strongest team.
The results of these matches, of course, will not completely remove doubts about the potential of the team led by coach Gregg Popovich, because all the teams know that in early July and August (or indeed at the beginning of August in the knockout stage) more important matches will be held in Tokyo. On the part of the opponents of the Americans, there is no additional fill in the sparring against a strong opponent, it is just another prep match. The Australians, having won a few days ago, gave their children and went out to the locker room. A friendly victory against the American team of NBA players (presented in 1992 before the Olympic Games in Barcelona) no longer causes such euphoria as it did in 2004, when Italy did it for the first time. In 2002-2006, the Americans ended up without gold in three consecutive championships, but since 2007 they have been unbeaten for nearly 13 years. They only died in 2019 – first with Australia and then twice at the World Cup. However, this team can be considered average, there were even players in it, by the standards of the NBA, on average.
Now there is no such, but there are many problems and question marks. The most dangerous may be the lack of a suitable low-cost category, in which it is difficult even to blame the American employees for their wrong decisions. The last Olympics were played by DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, who were at the peak of their careers at the time. Currently, the aliens dominate the best midfield in the NBA. Only one American, Pam Adebayo, was included in the top 10 performers of the season that was about to end, and was in the Tokyo squad. Due to his versatility and defensive skills, he could become a key player in the Olympic Games.
The good news for the United States is that Nikola Jokic is not named the best player in the current league. Serbia dramatically failed to win the qualification, also because Jokic did not participate in it. Due to the absence of their teams, Cameroon’s Joel Embiid, Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas and Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic will not play. It makes no sense even to mention the Swiss Clint Capella, because his team is the third European League. In this case, the biggest challenge for Adebayo and his teammates – in the first match on July 25 – will be Frenchman Rudy Gobert. In 2019, at the World Cup, it turned out to be a serious problem in the quarter-finals.
Americans traditionally complain that their representation is not as well coordinated as others who have played for many years in a similar rating. This argument is more difficult to use compared to Nigeria, but it is significant in Australia, Argentina, France or Spain. During the aforementioned recent period unbeaten, efforts were made to eliminate it by focusing on the team’s continuation. Right now, it’s hard to talk about, and it’s odd in this situation to call up three players (Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday) who can fight in the NBA Finals until July 22. Middleton is one of two athletes who participated in the 2019 World Cup, only two others to appear at the 2016 Olympics.
Kevin Durant has the most acting experience, as it’s his fourth summer with the team. He has two Olympic gold medals and one World Cup. He never failed in the national team, he was the leader even with his strongest teammates. This brilliant winger for the Brooklyn Nets seems to be the team’s greatest hope in tough moments in Tokyo. Yes, there are also other great individuals in the squad, like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, but Durant will be the best player in the tournament after Luka Doncic. Next to the Slovenian there are many weaker players, although they perfectly understand their roles, which should not be obvious in the American team … And yet Slovenia is not the most dangerous competitor to the Americans – Australia, France and Spain are considered.