The players who chose not to be a part of this year’s USA team assembled for the FIBA World Cup were a bigger topic of conversation than the players who were actually a part of it. All summer, good players withdrew with regularity, and heading into the tournament, it was clear this was the least-talented USA team to enter international competition in quite some time.
That’s not to say that they were not talented, of course. Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker are superstars in their own right, even if they aren’t James Harden or Russell Westbrook. But it ultimately didn’t matter as France handed Team USA their first international loss since 2006 and knocked them out of the FIBA World Cup earlier than expected by the score of 89-79. Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier led the way for the French.
Given the lack of star power and the fact that Team USA has a permanent target painted on their backs in international competition, this doesn’t come as a massive surprise. Still, their roster was more talented top-to-bottom than any other country, and it remains a disappointment.
The Olympic team for 2020 will look quite different from this squad, but they’ll be coming into the competition with something to prove for the first time in a long time.