With the Tokyo Olympics less than two weeks away, Team USA are running out of time to sort out their issues. Although they have spent little time playing as a group, a lot more is expected from the All-Star team.
Team USA lost their first exhibition match to Team Nigeria, which counted as one of the worst defeats in their history. They suffered another loss to Australia before bouncing back against the 4th-ranked Argentina team.
Team USA will face France, Iran and the Czech Republic in Group A action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If they want to dominate and secure their quarter-finals berth, they will need to make some big changes.
On that note, let's look at five things Team USA need to address before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics tip-off.
Also Checkout: USA Olympic Basketball Team Schedule
#1 Get better defensively
Team USA have some of the best defensive-minded players on their roster. However, they failed to subdue their opponents in two of their exhibition games.
Team Nigeria converted 20 of their 42 points from beyond the arc, many of which were uncontested shots. Team USA improved defensively against Australia but could not keep up the intensity throughout the game.
If Team USA continues to defend as they did in those two losses, teams like Spain and France will hurt them in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
For a shot at gold in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Team USA need to turn up the intensity on defense.
#2 Develop chemistry
Team USA have brought together a bunch of exceptional talents like Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. However, most of them have never played together.
The players will need to work hard and fast to build chemistry as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is just around the corner. The team showed signs of good ball movement and understanding in the win against Argentina. However, a lot more work needs to be done, considering the caliber of players on the roster.
Developing synergy will go a long way in helping Team USA fire on all cylinders during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Also Checkout: Tokyo Olympics Men's Basketball Team Roster and Players
#3 Fix their roster
Team USA had six active players on their 2020 Tokyo Olympics roster before JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson were called up.
Although Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton will join after their NBA Finals contest, Team USA lost three players in under 48 hours.
Bradley Beal will not be representing his country as he entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp. With the team scheduled to leave for Japan on Monday, he will miss the opportunity to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Reports suggest that Jerami Grant has also joined Beal in health and safety protocols. However, no confirmation has been given on the status of his availability.
Kevin Love also announced that he will be withdrawing from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because he is still dealing with a calf injury.
Although replacements have been called up, the Team USA roster does not strike fear in the hearts of opposing nations as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics draws closer.
#4 Improve their shooting
The dimensions for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball court are a lot smaller compared to that of the NBA. While that should be a plus for Team USA, they have struggled to acclimatize to the new size.
Shooting from the three-point line in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is similar to long 2's in the NBA. However, players have shot airballs on occasion. The rim size is also considerably larger, which means that there is a higher chance of making buckets.
The stellar shooting that we expect from NBA players representing Team USA has been missing. Although Lillard knocked down six 3s in the game against Australia, the team have struggled to find their range.
#5 Team USA must play with energy
Team USA have taken the term "exhibition" too seriously and have been playing without any conviction. The team will be blown out of the water in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if they do not pick up the pace.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, like most international games, will be more physical than what most of the players are accustomed to in the NBA. The faster they learn to ramp up their energy, the better it will be for them.
Size is a factor that might work against Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It was visible in their second exhibition match against the Aussies, as they were outscored 44-24 in the paint.
Although hustle play will not make up for their size, it could make opposing teams think less about playing bully ball in the paint.