He says that, while Team USA’s advantage is gone, it’s really not surprising.
“It just shows you the growth of basketball internationally, how good these players have gotten,” Drummond said on “SiriusXM NBA Radio” on September 8. It’s no knock against USA. These guys at the international level have gotten so much better, their teams have gotten so much better. So it’s no surprise to me.”
Drummond was speaking after Team USA’s loss to Germany in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Semi-Final on September 8. Team USA would go on to fall to Canada in the third-place matchup against the Canadian National Team, failing to medal for the second consecutive tournament.
Germany won the tournament with an 83-77 victory over Serbia.
Drummond was a member of the 2014 team that brought back the second FIBA gold in a row for Team USA. It was also the last American team to medal at all in the tournament.
The Bulls’ big man averaged just 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in that showing, seeing fewer than 6.0 minutes per contest in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. But he saw it first-hand then, and it has become as evident as ever over the last two tournaments, though the belief is that the US will have its top stars for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.
Team USA Could Bounce Back in Olympics
Team USA has fared much better in the Olympics, winning four straight gold medals. Their last medal was won back in 2020 when Bulls guard Zach LaVine was a member of the team, coming back with a great appreciation for the entire experience.
“It was really us versus the world,” LaVine said on “The Best of The Volume” in February of 2022. “And for me, being my first experience over there, it was incredible.”
One thing that seemed to be of issue, at least for Brandon Ingram, was his role on the team.
“Winning trumps everything,” LaVine said. “Nobody asks how many minutes you played. Winning trumps everything. And everybody was happy with the role that they had, and that we got to celebrate with the gold medal.”
Ingram tried to make the best of his time but he was one of several players to sit out the final game against Canada. While Drummond – the self-proclaimed greatest rebounder ever – is likely not going to be an Olympian at this point in his career, LaVine could have a shot to bring home once again.
LaVine and the Bulls were part of the NBA’s Paris game last season, a publicity tour that also set the stage for the Olympics in 2024.
More importantly, he could have a leg up due to his previous time with Team USA.
Zach LaVine Could Land on 2024 Olympic Squad
“Zach LaVine was very good for Team USA in Tokyo,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” on August 7. “I know he didn’t have the greatest year last year. But if you got equity with the team, you’ve got a leg up.”
He’s made it clear that he would like to go.
LaVine finished last season strong and a fast start to the 2023-23 campaign could very well cement his place on the next Team USA Olympic roster. He is an electric scorer on or off the ball and showcased that he knows how to use athleticism on defense while in Tokyo during his first Olympic stint.