Team USA still competitive without elite players

Brandon Shrider and Brandon Shrider

As Major League Baseball playoff races begin to wind down and weekends are dominated by football, the USA basketball team managed to make a firm statement on Sunday.

Our “B team” is still significantly better than the “A teams” that other countries deployed for the International Basketball Federation Basketball World Cup.

With recognizable stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin electing not to participate in the tournament, the USA was left with a team full of second-tier talents, headlined by a recovering Derrick Rose.

Without the premiere stars available for the USA, there was speculation that the team might falter at some point during the tournament and not capture the championship.

While doubt was prevalent, the USA never made those watching, worry one bit. The USA was able to sweep their way through the tournament winning nine consecutive games including a 37-point victory in the championship game.

“We had spurts of dominance during the tournament,” USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski once said. “Tonight we had about a 35-minute spurt.”

Maybe the team could have taken their game to another level of dominance had their best players participated, but the team was just that; a team, and they showed why the USA is still home to the best basketball players in the world.

“[This group] stayed focused on the team they were going to play next,” Krzyzewski once said. “They respected the process, and as a result the process turned out really well.”

The team averaged an age of just 24, combining for 10 all-star game appearance and zero NBA championships between the 12 players. To put this in perspective, LeBron James has yet to turn 30-years-old and has 10 all-star games appearances alone.

What this means for team USA is that without their elite players, their second-and-third tier players remain much better players than those of other countries including well-regarded, Spain.

The USA made their way throughout the FIBA tournament without much issue at all, and they will look to do the same in the 2016 Olympics whether their elite stars choose to play or not.