America’s basketball players are also world title favorites without NBA stars

America’s basketball players are also world title favorites without NBA stars

In an exhibition game in early August, top scorer Anthony Edwards (No. 10) will be guarded by Puerto Rico’s Tremont Waters. Edwards excelled for Team USA in preparation for the World Cup.Field Getty Images

A great team can be assembled from star players who rejected the tournament in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines: Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Jamal Murray (Canada), Denver Nuggets, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) and super talent Victor Vembanyama (France). are some of the biggest names in the American NBA.

They did not participate for various reasons. Jokic, 2.11m and the world’s best basketball player, said he was “mentally and physically exhausted” from his Serbian stable, saying Murray and Antetokounmpo were recovering from injuries and wanted to focus on 19-year-old Wembaniyama. In his long-awaited NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs in the fall.

While other sports are looking forward to the World Championship, many of the world’s best basketball players are turning their noses up at the competition. Only six players are among the top thirty scorers in the NBA. The explanation is simple: the American season, where they make millions, is demanding, injuries lurk, and, after all, the Olympics have a high value.

Done by the author
Koen van der Velden suggests D Volkskrant About sports in America. He lives in New York.

It doesn’t help that FIFA, the world basketball body, has organized the World Cup exactly a year before the Olympiad since the last edition. A bite into two summers away from a well-deserved summer vacation? A lot of basketball players don’t like that. So the choice between the World Cup and the Games is soon made.

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Curry for Paris?

The absolute front-runners aren’t the only ones left. Neither are eligible NBA players like Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia), Andrew Wiggins (Canada) and Japanese Rui Hachimura. The latter focuses on his club, the Los Angeles Lakers. A video surfaced on social media this week in which he played tennis with his celebrity compatriot Naomi Osaka.

The U.S. lacks older, established superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry who have played for their country in the past. In a year, it will become clear whether they are ready for the final joint adventure in Paris. Curry, who has never competed in the Games, has previously hinted that he might be interested in an Olympic debut.

In Southeast Asia, played mainly by basketball-mad Filipinos, Americans have to opt for the B-decor. A ‘sorry-ass group’ sounded the harsh verdict of former basketball player and podcaster Gilbert Arenas. Useless, he thought.

None of the twelve basketball players had World Cup or Olympic Games experience. There is no one on Tokyo’s gold team.

Dream team

However, there is a lot of talent. In a group full of youngsters in their twenties, six players averaged 20 points or more last NBA season. In particular, Minnesota Timberwolves’ dynamic top scorer Anthony Edwards (22) has shown himself in production. “He’s definitely the guy with us,” said coach Steve Kerr, a nine-time NBA champion as a player and coach. Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans) and Jalen Brunson (New York Knicks) are the other leaders on the list.

Fear has long since stopped motivating the American team. The era of the dream team is over. That was enough to win gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games, when it featured players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley. Shaken, the opponents retreated.

The current team is currently ranked 2nd in the FIBA ​​rankings. Defending world champions Spain edged out the Americans at the end of last year, although they narrowly won the Olympic final against France. This is the first time that a country other than the United States has topped the list since then.

Exit from 2019

This was mainly due to a dramatic 2019 World Cup, where the team finished seventh. Even then cancellations rained down, but no one took into account in advance two painful defeats against France and (in the consolation round) Serbia. Before the match in China, the team had won 58 games in a row.

With bookmakers, the inexperienced and thin USA are still the top contenders for the World Cup title, but experts see strong contenders in France, strong Canada and defending champions Spain. They know: America is in control. American team players are not feeling well. “We all know how we’re viewed,” playmaker Tyrus Halliburton said. ‘It really annoys us.’

The best player of the tournament will not be found in America in advance, but in Slovenia. Dallas Mavericks’ strong playmaker Luka Doncic (2.01m) has already helped his country to the European title and fourth place at the Tokyo Games. French player Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves) earns $41 million annually in the World Cup.

Still, the pressure will be on America. In their home country, early elimination is considered shameful, and winning the match is almost certain. This could be another reason why the American stars leave: they can only lose in the World Cup.

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