How important is the gold medal for Team USA?

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12: Bradley Beal #4 and Kevin Durant #7 help up Jerami Grant #9 of the USA Men's National Team during the game against the Australia Men's National Team on July 12, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

For more than one decade, Team USA has been the biggest force in international basketball. Led by Mike Krzyzewski, the Americans won three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and two World Cups.

However, after Coach K’s departure, Team USA looks lost. The staff is making many mistakes, and the fourth consecutive gold at the Olympics seems far away. The problems started at the 2019 World Cup, where the Americans finished in 7th place after losing to France and Serbia.

Last week, Team USA lost to Nigeria and Australia, who exposed its weaknesses. As it wasn’t enough, Bradley Beal had to leave the camp due to the safety protocols while Kevin Love withdrew from the team. The strange thing is that they were replaced by Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee. I am not saying that Johnson and McGee aren’t good players, but the US has much greater athletes.

The problem is that some of the young superstars became upset for not being selected initially. For example, Trae Young tweeted a short video from the famous ‘The Last Dance’ where Isiah Thomas was complaining about not being selected into the team that won the gold at the Olympics in 1992.

Other players like Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are still playing the NBA Finals so they will join Team USA only after the conclusion of the season. Also, Jayson Tatum got hurt and is listed as ‘day-to-day, while Jerami Grant entered health and safety protocol.

It is a very difficult situation to manage for Gregg Popovich, and their opponents will take advantage of this. Currently, Team USA is in third place in the FIBA Power Ranking, but it is possible that they won’t even get on the podium.

*photo: Ned Dishman/Getty Images