This year’s Team USA has been receiving their fair share of criticism from fans and pundits alike, for not only allowing clearly inferior teams to play them close, but for failing to play the captivating style of basketball that dazzles fans worldwide and leaves the opposition at a loss on how to stop it.
As Americans, home of basketball’s most prestigious and (by far) best league, we expect to not only blow out every team that gets in our way, but do it while playing a fast-paced and awe-inspiring style, just how Team USAs of the past have done it.
The 2016 team hasn’t lived up to expectations based off its predecessors, not even close.
Their isolation-heavy offense is not only boring and ineffective, but it’s allowed teams like Australia, Serbia, France and Spain to play them uncomfortably close.
Take a look at these highlights from the 2008 Olympic squad.
7 straight minutes of quick passing, sharp movement, powerful dunks and a lethal transition game.
How many plays from the current team this tournament would even make the cut for this highlight reel? 2 or 3?
There’s only been a handful of dunks through six games and even less instances of effective man and ball movement, a direct result of their static offense and unwillingness to even try and right the ship.
The confidence of the players is ultimately their downfall on the offensive end. They feel as if they can win the gold medal on talent alone, and therefore rely completely on their individual talent rather than trying to play off each other to maximize their effectiveness, something that previous teams have done so well.
But it’s not only the offense that’s been a total letdown, but the defense, once touted by some as the best in the United States’ history has also been a mess.
They’ve been exposed time and time again by teams that actually move the ball, and should consider themselves fortunate to have gotten to this point unscathed, as they were thoroughly outplayed by Australia, and were on the verge of choking their once sizable leads against Serbia, France and Spain.
Even if the United States captures the Gold Sunday afternoon, this team should still be considered a failure.
Even with some of their best sitting this tournament out, the US still possessed the most talented squad by a distance, and their failure to play as a unit has led to dragged-out and ultimately boring games, despite the close scorelines.
The once aesthetic and thoroughly entertaining style of United States basketball is gone, replaced by a team that plays down to its opposition and plays a tedious style of hoops. Hopefully this radical shift isn’t here to stay.