Rio Olympics 2016: 5 weaknesses which can cost Team USA the Gold
Carmelo Anthony must have had flashbacks from a decade ago when he led Team USA in scoring against Greece in the FIBA Championships. He had a game-high 27 points then, but to no avail, as Greece eliminated USA from gold medal contention.
That team comprised of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. That team lost 101-95 to Greece. The current team is inferior to that for sure.
Now, Anthony saw his team trailing to Australia for great portions of the game in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He wasn't going to have a repeat of 2006, and his daggers from downtown helped Team USA stave off the Australians. Kyrie Irving's 19 points helped as well.
Team USA is by no means invulnerable, as Australia showed when they almost defeated Team USA before the latter escaped with a victory. They were nearly taken to the cleaners by Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes. None of those players will be seen in the all-star game come February.
Here are five weaknesses which can cost Team USA the gold medal:
1) Lack of a pure point-guard leading to isolation offence
Against Australia, Team USA fielded a starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. That is a lineup to be reckoned with, but it's no secret that Irving is more of an excellent scorer rather than a playmaker. Even the presence of LeBron James would have helped with the playmaking duties.
In the past, guards such as Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Chris Paul have orchestrated the offence for Team USA, and all of them have averaged over 10 assists per game for multiple seasons.
The highest Irving has averaged is 6.1 assists per game for a season. Not to say that he isn't valuable, he's among the top 3 point guards in the league currently. But this team clearly lacks a playmaker, and there will be many other occasions when Team USA's offence will boil down to an isolation.
Even the backup point guard Kyle Lowry has career averages of 5.7 assists per game. Against Australia, the isolation offence bore fruit but barely. Irving and Anthony combined for 26 of Team USA's 28 points in the fourth quarter. The problem with isolation offence is that the shots have a higher degree of difficulty. You can't rely on them for the entire course of a tournament.
Unless Team USA can orchestrate an offensive system which doesn’t result in bailout possessions, they could be in for trouble.