After the US won Olympic gold again, Kevin Durant said this on Twitter: “Talk about they catching up to us. Are you serious? This skill is unmatched.”
He’s right about that, mostly anyway. The other teams are less talented but spend a lot more time together and build tremendous cohesion. We saw that a lot when less gifted opponents still got a lot of backdoor plays against the deeper and more talented Team USA. We certainly saw it when France beat the US in the first game in Tokyo and wasn’t too far from doing so in the gold medal game.
As we’ve mentioned several times lately, other national teams age out. Not the U.S. The U.S. could send three or four different teams that would all be capable of winning a medal. That would be true even if you leave out the guys like Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who for their own reasons, chose not to play.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allan Robinson followed up was Durant said with this: “I agree lol they not ready to deal with Trae young Zion and the crew lol“
That’s also true. Williamson in particular would be a shock to a lot of the guys who don’t play in the NBA. Highlights can’t begin to portray what an agent of chaos he is.
Worse for the other teams, he doesn’t need a structured situation to cause that chaos. Pop a rebound loose and dunk? No problem. Steal and dunk? Okay. Block a shot out of nowhere? You got it. Lead the break? Why not?
In one way, the player he most resembles is 5-3 Wake Forest legend Muggsy Bogues. Why? Because he’s completely unpredictable and you have to constantly look to see where he is and what he’s doing. Because otherwise, he’s going to kill you.
We were hoping he would be on this year’s team but obviously that didn't happen.
But back to Durant’s and Robinson’s point: As a thought exercise, what about this as a roster in 2024?
- Zion Williamson
- Trae Young
- LaMelo Ball
- Bam Adebayo
- Scottie Barnes
- Cam Reddish
- Davion Mitchell
- Jalen Suggs
- James Wiseman
- Ja Morant
- Paolo Banchero
- Chet Holmgren
This would obviously be a very young team, with the last two not even in the NBA yet, but consider what it offers.
Outside shooting? Young, Reddish, Suggs, Banchero, Holmgren.
Rebounding? Williamson, Wiseman, Banchero, Holmgren, Adebayo.
Power? Williamson, Adebayo, Banchero.
Ballhandling? Young, Suggs, Morant, Holmgren, Mitchell.
Defense? Adebayo, Barnes, Mitchell, Suggs, Wiseman, Reddish, Williamson if he’s motivated.
Point guard? Ball, Morant, Mitchell, Suggs, Reddish and Williamson can all play point.
Guys who can defend big guards, something Coach K realized was critical? Williamson, Reddish, Barnes, Ball, Suggs.
Guys who can run the break? 1-12.
The main thing is that a group like this offers immense versatility. Our feeling is that this team could put immense pressure on the others and would turn them over a lot. And once you got this group on the break, there’s not a team in the world, not even in the NBA, that could contain them.
So yes, the world is vastly improved. The best player in the world is Greek and the best player in the Olympics was from Slovakia. But Durant is still right: the skill level is unmatched.
The key is to put the right group together and give them time enough to build chemistry. And Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic or Rudy Gobert would have a very tough time stopping a group like this.