Without LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Can Steve Kerr’s Young Team USA Dominate Against ‘Greatest’ Italy Side?

Published 09/04/2023, 9:19 PM EDT

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The USA’s loss against Lithuania has put a question mark on the team’s title aspirations. After conceding 31 and scoring just 12 in the first quarter, the current team’s mettle is now under the radar. The inexperience of the squad compared to the experience of their opposition has now come to the foreground. The fact that these European squads have players meshing together for many years has put the USA in a quandary.

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To deepen their challenge, Italian men will be awaiting them. Will this young squad be able to keep up against the boisterous Italian squad?

Without LeBron James, a huge test for the struggling Team USA

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Overall, in the FIBA World Cup, Italy and the USA faced each other 14 times, with the USA winning 12 of those battles. They last met in 2006 FIBA WC when the United States of America defeated the Italians 94:85 behind a resounding 35-point performance by Carmelo Anthony

LeBron James had just eight points, whereas Chris Paul dished six assists. Dwight Howard was a non-factor and had zero points and just one rebound. Therefore, Anthony carried the team for most parts.

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These players were around the same age bracket as the current USA players, and in fact even more inexperienced. Fast forward to 19 years, while Howard is out of the NBA, Paul and LeBron need not compete as Team USA players, as they are proven winners.

Now it will be up to the struggling first unit of the USA to get it together. In almost all games thus far, the opposition has outplayed them early. Only Anthony Edwards has had some consistency as a starter. In the last game, since Paolo Banchero and Austin Reaves didn’t fire, the second unit couldn’t rescue them during the humiliating loss. It will be interesting to see what adjustments coach Steve Kerr makes for the next game.

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Therefore, if they don’t sort out their early woes, they can dig a steep hole. The current Italian side also has a wealth of passing options like Lithuania.

The current Italy squad has a lot of pull

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Like the USA, Italy also has one loss. However, their loss came in the first round, unlike the USA, which had it in second one. For them, Utah Jazz swingman, Simone Fontecchio is leading the way, averaging over 18 points. They have two solid playmakers, Marco Spissu and Alejandro Pajelo, both averaging over five assists. Spissu, Fontecchio, Ricci, Datome, Tonut, and Pajola have outside shooting abilities, but this team does most of its damage from the inside.

Having a multi-purpose big man like Nicolo Melli gives the team a unique dimension. too. Since Italy doesn’t have the same shooting skills as Lithuania, the USA can concentrate inside. However, that can be fatal too because this is a streaky team and has some great playmakers at multiple positions. Despite their loss, the USA will enter as favorites, but they will need to be a much better rebounding unit.

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Will they be able to contain an Italian side that has been regarded as the greatest? Both teams have been vulnerable to multiple accounts.

Watch This Story: After Thrashing Greece in FIBA World Cup, Stephen Curry’s coach heaps praise on $80,900,000 rich NBA star for team’s success: “he gets the 30-70 balls…”

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Written by:

Shubham Singh

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Shubham is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He became a fan of the NBA in late 2000s and his interest skyrocketed after Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in Six Games during 2011 NBA Finals. He loves looking into playing styles of different players and teams while also trying to analyse what circumstances shape a typical NBA game.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe

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