The USA Basketball men’s national team lost to Nigeria last Saturday, 90-87, playing laissez-faire basketball against a team that was full of NBA players and hungry to make their mark on the FIBA stage.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal got the start for the Americans. As Kevin Broom noted last night, he didn’t play well on defense. And on offense, he was quiet, only scoring 2 points on 1-of-7 shooting in 25 minutes. To be honest, he was one of the worst performers for both teams, even considering that Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant shot just 4-of-13 from the field in a 17 point performance.
Once the Olympics begin in earnest, hopefully the Americans will figure out which players will be higher usage and which ones will be spot up players. Yes, the Americans have only been together for a very short period of time. However, I don’t feel like it’s been clear as to which players will play roles closer to their NBA teams and which ones will have to make adjustments.
Beal is a high usage player on the Wizards where he had a rating of 34.1 percent in the 2021-22 season. But it’s not like he and Durant and Damian Lillard can all have the ball in their hands for lengthy stretches.
Fortunately, Beal has had experience being more of an off-ball player earlier in his career. Assuming he remains in the starting lineup for the rest of Team USA’s friendlies and the Olympics, Beal will likely have to get more accustomed to being a spot up shooter (again).
But if head coach Gregg Popovich and his staff like Beal remaining a scorer like he has been with the Wizards the last couple seasons, perhaps he should come off the bench. There’s nothing wrong with that in FIBA competition, especially when the Americans play some of the strongest teams in the world like Spain and Australia later tonight.
Do you think Beal is best suited as a starter where he would presumably play alongside Durant and Lillard? Or should he come off the bench as a sixth man? Or is his role going to be further diminished once Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker comes back from the NBA Finals? Let us know in the comments below.