It is well known that the FIBA World Cup doesn’t ever fully motivate the USA’s basketball team. After the gold medals in 2010 and 2014, the teams they have taken to recent tournaments are proof of that.
In the 2019 edition, they finished seventh, and in the one that has just ended they had to settle for fourth place.
Neither of those two squads were star-studded, with few All-Star players or members of the NBA’s best teams of the season.
Even coaches of the prestige of Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr could not lead the team to the podium.
But, the Olympic Games are something else. The five hoops do attract attention.
Since Barcelona 1992, when professional players were allowed to play and the original and unique Dream Team was allowed to play, the Americans have only failed to win gold in Athens 2004.
For the 2024 Olympics, it is to be expected that they will once again put together a formidable team trying to win another gold.
The gap to Team USA has narrowed
And, Team USA had better bring their brightest stars. The gap between the Americans and the rest of the world has narrowed.
Some of the best players in the NBA are now foreigners, for example Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
“There’s still respect, but there’s not the same kind of fear that there was 27 years ago when they were playing us,” said Grant Hill, USA Basketball’s executive director and a member of the team that won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Building a blueprint for the 2024 Olympics
The executive said many of the players on the US team that played in the FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines would be at the Paris Games.
“They are young, they are good and they are hungry,” he said.
“When LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade went to the 2006 World Cup, they were not the players they became later. We are building something.”
That said, there will be calls for more talented veterans to go to Paris, players like Jayson Taytum, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.