SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team

The non-Americans seem to work the ball inside out and outside in and play help defense.

The Americans try to will their talent to win, and their talent is considerable enough that they should win the gold medal. 

That said, I agree with the pundits, most prominently Charles Barkley, who offered that whoever constructed this team failed to do a good job, because with the exception of DeAndre Jordan the team is populated with players who need the ball to be effective.  And because of that, you do not see a lot more than isolations and one-on-one play.  You certainly do not see the off-the-ball movement that the other international teams show or that, among others, the Warriors and Spurs have shown over the years.

The team also lacks leadership.  LeBron can coax, cajole and even coerce his teammates to greater heights, if for no other reason than he takes care of the little things and nothing seems to be too little not to warrant his attention.  The team seems to defer to Carmelo Anthony as its leader.  I'm sure Carmelo has his bright points, but he also has a reputation for being a shoot-first player whose defense is not his strong point.  I thought that Paul George might have played more of a leadership role, but clearly there is something missing.  Call it team defense, call it movement without the ball, call it sharing the ball, call it focus, call it something.  These players come from the best league in the world, and yet they are eking out victories against teams with much less talent. 

Will they win the gold?  Probably?  Is this a huge deal?  Probably not.  But it does go to show you that when you craft a team, it's a good idea to get some players better suited to international play and to the basic concepts of ball movement and team defense. 

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