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A look at the USA basketball team for the Tokyo Olympics led by Kevin Durant

The USA basketball team is expected to blaze their way to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics with the assets available at their disposal.

Kevin Durant USA

Kevin  Durant is leading the USA basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics (Source: Stack.com)


Ananth Narasimman

Updated: 14 July 2021 8:37 AM GMT

The USA basketball team enters yet another Olympics as a perennial favourite with a squad that features All-Stars such as Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Devin Booker. Despite a disappointing performance at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the team is expected to blaze their way to another Gold with the assets available at their disposal. Anything but Gold would be considered a failure hence putting a target on their backs, fortunately, stars such as Durant are used to the pressure and expectations that come with it.

Legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich has handed the responsibility of getting the best out of his team and proves to be the perfect candidate to replace Mike Krzyzewski, who led the team to three consecutive Golds and plans to retire. "Pop" as he is commonly referred to, will not find it hard to manage the big egos of these stars in the league, with experience coaching legends such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

Ably assisted by a brilliant group of staff headlined by Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Pop is expected to add another Olympic gold to his long list of achievements.

After a couple of difficult seasons with the pandemic and the bubble, players were not that enthusiastic to enter into another bubble which would most likely be the case with the Olympics. Pop used his relationships with players such as KD and Dame to help them feel comfortable with the idea of coming on board, hence giving them the best chances of winning.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that a collaborative effort by Pop and his superstars to recruit players was a major reason for team USA to put out a strong squad despite players such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry backing out.

Team USA kicked off their quest with a shocking exhibition game loss to Nigeria, who managed to hold them to a mere 87 points. This result marked the first time that Team USA had lost to an African nation, proving just how global the sport had become, and why the team cannot afford to be complacent despite the plethora of talent available at its disposal.

Teams such as Spain, Argentina, Slovenia and France each have extremely talented pools of players to select from with an added advantage of having better chemistry since they have played with each other for a longer time. Players such as Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert would be itching at a chance to knock them out and stamp their mark. Few key factors could play a huge part in the quest for gold.

The KD Factor

Kevin Durant (Source: Pinterest)

It was not too long ago that Kevin Durant suffered a horrible Achilles' injury that had kept him from competing in the finals and put him out for a long time. Getting back to rhythm was never a doubt for a star of KD's level but the goal was to stay focused and at the moment. He eased his way back in and played a key part for the Brooklyn Nets in their playoff run before they eventually fell to Giannis and the Bucks.

KD promised his teammates that he was back and that he would want to make the most of the opportunity after being out for that long, according to reports by ESPN. Team USA would be extremely difficult to stop with a healthy KD destroying teams at will. Being one of the senior-most players KD has a key role as a leader of this team and can make history by gaining his fourth Olympic gold medal.

Chemistry Issues and Schedule

The last two years have been a rollercoaster ride for everyone and it is no different for the players. Having to finish the season in a bubble while being away from their family during a pandemic would have had its effect on the players. Wear and tear are natural in sports but the time between seasons and the Olympics was a lot lesser than the players would have liked. Despite these mounting obstacles, the players still wanted to represent their country and hence committed.

To help them gain chemistry in such a short time is no easy task despite having world-class assets at your disposal hence the defeat to Nigeria came as no surprise. Parallels can be drawn to the legendary Dream Team who had huge expectations but had to be humbled by a group of college kids for them to truly realize their potential and put the team first. This might catalyze the team and get the chemistry right but the players will have to sacrifice and accommodate each other to go all the way.


The USA basketball team (Source: AP News)

The USA had a long-standing firm grasp of the sport due to the popularity of the National Basketball Association and its players. This factor allowed the team a luxury like none other due to their deep talent pool.

Things got a lot easier with NBA players being allowed to play post-1992, since, the Olympics has been graced by legends such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Times have changed, and the sport has become more global with highly talented players from countries that are not known to be Basketball powerhouses.

Stars like Luka Doncic of Slovenia and Rudy Gobert of France, have managed to impact the game at a high level and leave their mark. Team USA will have a target on their backs for sure with well-oiled machines like World Cup winner Spain, hunting after them despite lacking the talent to compare. They make up for the lack of talent with experience since they have played with each other since their U-19 days.

The road to Gold has its obstacles, but the summit tastes sweeter when the journey is difficult.

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