Why are the United States suddenly finding it so difficult to breeze through their opponents in the Olympic Games? One meme suggests it could be Harrison Barnes, although it does so relying on people knowing the facts, and not just reading numbers and referring only to them.
Barnes is the unwanted player on this Olympic squad, playing in the two opening blowout games against China and Venezeula, while not getting a minute against Australia, Serbia and France. In terms of basketball ability and performance, the NBA Finals were the worst possible thing for him, yet it didn’t stop him from landing a max contract with the Dallas Mavericks, so he has that going for him.
In any case, Barnes or not, the United States can’t feel too confident as they head into the knockout stage. They won their last two games by 3 points only, and their 10 point win over Australia helps some forget they trailed for most of the first half. The physicality, ball movement and slower pace they’re facing has thrown them completely off rhythm, and they haven’t been able to generate some rare shooting performance in these games. Two individual performances saved them stood out, with Carmelo Anthony against Australia, and Klay Thompson against France.
But the fact remains is that the ball movement hardly exists, the defense seems confused for most of the game, and there’s no real game plan, or not a good execution of one. This isn’t necessarily a weaker team in terms of talent than previous editions in the Olympics and world championships, but it’s certainly the most disjointed looking group in terms of on court chemistry and accountability since the 2004 Olympics, which are the only event in the Dream Team era without the gold medal going to the United States.