Team USA finished seventh in the 2019 FIBA World Cup – the Americans’ worst-ever finish in a major tournament.
Why did the U.S. fare so poorly?
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had sharp words for the many stars who withdrew. But that’s not his only explanation.
Colangelo, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
“I believe that if we didn’t have those injuries, we would have won,” said Colangelo. “The injuries were just too much to absorb.”
Those players – especially Tatum and Smart, who occupied a roster spots – would’ve helped. But even with those two, the Americans were vulnerable. Australia beat them in an exhibition, and Turkey nearly upset them in the first round. France and Serbia clearly outplayed them in the knockout phase. Team USA just lacked its usual talent.
Perhaps more top Americans will play in the 2020 Olympics. That will make the biggest difference.
If USA Basketball had attracted more stars for the World Cup, it likely could’ve withstood a few injuries. This roster allowed little margin for error.