Jayson Tatum started the first exhibition game for Team USA against Nigeria, but came off the bench against Australia and didn’t look quite right, shooting 4-of-12 overall and 0-of-6 from 3. He wasn’t his explosive self.
Now we know why. Tatum is out for Wednesday’s exhibition game against Argentina, and is now listed as day-to-day.
Detroit’s Jerami Grant will get the start Wednesday — he started against Australia in Tatum’s place — but no Tatum leaves the Americans short of wing players. Part of the issue is two wings coach Gregg Popovich will lean heavily on in Tokyo are not with the team right now — Devin Booker and Khris Middleton are busy playing in the Finals and will catch up with Team USA when that ends.
The USA has started off an unimpressive 0-2 in exhibition games, with losses to Nigeria and Australia. While part of that is the world closing the gap with USA Basketball, taking away the American’s margin for error, this is also a team that has looked disjointed and without a focus or a clear on-court leader so far.
Tatum injuries have been an issue for Team USA in the past. His sprained ankle at the World Cup in Beijing in 2019, and that was one of several factors that led to a disappointing seventh-place finish for the Americans there.