Timberwolves bigs outplayed Team USA bigs
Despite the underwhelming performance of Team France center Rudy Gobert, it’s pretty obvious that the combined performances of Rudy Gobert and teammate Karl-Anthony Towns outclassed the four bigs on Team USA. In fact, Karl-Anthony Towns’s performance for Team Dominican Republic was better than the four-player performance of Team USA alone.
That should not come as much of a surprise, as Team USA’s head coach Steve Kerr is also the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, a team that has ridden the small ball roster to multiple NBA championships. But it does come as a surprise that even without a big-centric head coach, the rotations of Team USA’s centers and power forwards seem to evaporate quickly against stiff competition.
Team USA bigs depend on team schemes
In terms of the NBA performances, it’s clear that the players who were drafted to compete for Team USA were deserving of the honors. But their underwhelming performance serves to remind NBA analysts that many players in the NBA benefit greatly from the scheme and strategies run by their respective teams. Rookie center Walker Kessler is the most obvious example. His debut in the NBA was marked with a better-than-expected season for the Utah Jazz.
But when given the opportunity to compete for Team USA in the 2023 FIBA World Cup tournament, Kessler was practically invisible throughout the event. While that may or may not be connected to his ability for one game, that has been a consistent theme for Team USA throughout the 2023 FIBA World Cup tournament.
Compare that underwhelming performance to that of Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, and it’s clear that Kessler’s rookie success is entirely dependent on the scheme deployed by the Utah Jazz.