Once again, it’s Gold Medal or best for USA Basketball heading into the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
In almost everything the United States does, it’s mandatory they are the best, especially in sports. And that sentiment rings the utmost true in basketball more than anything else.
The US has dominated basketball in virtually every major tournament, at every single level since the sport’s inception – whether it be the Olympics or the FIBA World Cup. But that dominance has wavered in the last 20 years; no more recently than in the 2019 World Cup. So it’s safe to say, this year the pressure is certainly on.
In 2019, the USA was supremely disappointing; they lost to France in the quarter-finals, then Serbia in a classification round, before beating Poland to finish 7th. To be fair the roster wasn’t one of immense quality. The team only boasted two players who had previously been NBA All-Stars; those being Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton, but this still wasn’t an excusable result. This time around the US has a stronger squad.
For this 2023 FIBA World Cup squad, the United States has five players who have previously been NBA All-Stars (Anthony Edwards, Brandon Ingram, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrese Haliburton). The star man of the team seems to be Edwards, who is primed for a breakout NBA season.
The squad also includes other non-All-Star standouts like Austin Reaves, who was a top NBA playoff performer, and last season’s NBA Rookie Of The Year Paulo Banchero. On top of that, their head coach is Steve Kerr. This team is actually pretty good, but is Team USA still a true favorite?
Is the US still that much better than everyone else?
Whether Americans like it or not, the NBA is a global game, and while the US has the greatest pool of players to pick from, other nations have made the gap between themselves and the USA a lot smaller.
In this Tournament, America is not sending anything close to its strongest roster. In fact, might only one player on this team make their roster if they fielded their strongest. But for this World Cup, and this team, it definitely won’t be easy.
The US is placed in Group C to start the tournament. At first glance, it looks like a simple group, but it might be harder than it looks. New Zealand is a team filled with NBL players which is quite a high level, don’t sleep. On the other hand, Greece is filled with Euroleague and Eurocup players, and possibly the best basketball player in the world named Giannis Antetokounmpo. Luckily for The States, Giannis is likely out due to a knee injury earlier this summer. As for the other team in the group Jordan, this one should be straight forward win for America.
Outside of their group, there are plenty of teams that will pose mighty challenges for them. Other than the US, Canada has the most NBA talent; with players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murray, and RJ Barrett. France is another strong team who gave the United States a run for their money in the 2020 Olympics and knocked them out in 2019.
Germany also has a strong group of NBA and Euroleague guys. Lastly, Spain, the raining FIBA World Cup winner of 2019, and Eurobasket winner of 2022 always gives America a fight.
The United States is still the heavy favorite of this tournament, rightfully so, but it’s nothing like 30 years ago. No team in this competition will roll over, and almost every squad has someone with NBA experience. Will the US get it done and bring home the Gold? We’ll just have to wait and see.