USA basketball is bad
Team USA's adventure at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China was the story of a young team.
It started as any good young team starts: with a group of rejects and good players who aren't quite good enough to play at the next level, or at NBA all-star level. Some of the best American players, like Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Damian Lillard, decided not to join Team USA, so the team lacked superstars.
The Americans started as a humble squad in contrast to the usual powerhouse. They struggled at first, and they lost an exhibition to Australia before the World Cup. However, the youthful team started to rally, and they won all their other exhibition games before the tournament. Even though they had a target on their backs, Team USA had enough NBA talent to be the favorites for the tournament.
Of course, the players on Team USA were getting ahead of themselves.
The warning signs started in the group stage where the Americans narrowly escaped Turkey, a team whose best players were career NBA backups Cedi Osman and Ersan Ilyasova. Team USA entered the final seconds of the fourth quarter down by two points. It only took a three-point foul by Osman on Team USA's Jayson Tatum and an overtime period in which Turkey missed four free throws for Team USA to win.
Team USA, disappointed with their efforts, were satisfied by bullying Japan and a couple other teams on their way to the quarterfinals. There they met France, and it was unclear whether they would step up against tougher competition.
The Americans could not keep up with a team with more NBA talent, and they lost in the quarterfinal by a score of 89-79. France humiliated Team USA and broke their 58-game winning streak in FIBA and Olympic competition. To make the loss worse, backup New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina outscored American star Donovan Mitchell in the fourth quarter.
The Americans then sulked to their consolation game against Serbia, and it showed when Serbia raced to a 25-point lead in the first quarter. Team USA could not come back, and Serbia guaranteed the worst ever American finish in tournament appearances. They then capped off their adventure in China with a win over Poland to secure seventh place.
Team USA's experience in China is one that most of the players will want to forget. By the standards of the teams before them, Team USA in 2019 was too young to bear the expectations of USA basketball.
It will be easier when their players grow up.