USA Basketball has had a rough few months, going from an all-out stacked and star-studded roster, to at leats 10 players dropping out completely from the team.
Drop-outs include Damian Lillard, Paul George, Andre Drummond, Zion Williamson, Kyle Lowry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kevin Love, Tobias Harris, Eric Gordon, Bradley Beal, and others.
Now, as we have feared, it seems their play reflects their sudden lack of top-tier talent.
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein and The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the USAB American National Team just lost to a team reportedly comprised of borderline NBA level players in a secret scrimmage held earlier today.
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.
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.
A scrappy squad of players featuring some who played in @FIBAWC qualifying for @usabasketball and are being coached again this week by Jeff Van Gundy just took it to the USAB senior national team in a scrimmage open at the end to the media. Final score: 36-17
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 14, 2019
The young team apparently also had players who are not currently signed by an NBA franchise, obviously lending a hand in the concern.
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.
Obviously, this news is concerning, and efforts to hide the defeat have obviously been foiled. Still, with guys like Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and others leading the way, it’s hard to think Team USA will not be in better shape by the time the real competition starts.
Until then, though, there will continue to be concerns.