A crucial number sticks out from Team USA’s 2 second-round video games at the 2023 FIBA World Cup: One. That’s the number of rebounds beginning center Jaren Jackson Jr— ruling NBA Defensive Player of the Year– has actually taken down in the win over Montenegro and loss to Lithuania integrated. One.
After travelling through the group phase with a typical margin of success of 36.3 points, the Americans have actually encountered some problem in the 2nd round. They left versus Montenegro, however weren’t able to manage a resurgence versus Lithuania after routing by as much as 21 points in the very first half The common measure in both video games was the Americans getting bullied on the glass, on the protective end in specific. While that definitely does not fall all on Jackson, his ineffectivness as the group’s beginning five-man stands apart.
Here’s a take a look at the numbers:
” The issue is turnovers and rebounds,” head coach Steve Kerr stated on Friday. “If we remain even on the ownership video game, I feel terrific about our opportunities versus anyone. The method groups can beat us is if they get additional ownerships and require a great deal of turnovers and we’re not sharp and we’re not boxing out. And I’ve informed our people that. … It’s not truly a trick.”
While consistently getting squashed on the glass definitely wasn’t by style, it is to a degree an outcome of Team USA’s lineup structure. Jackson is finest matched as a power forward, and the just other real bigs on the group are Bobby Portis, another power forward, and Walker Kessler, the second-youngest gamer on the group. In the existing beginning lineup, Jackson is the only gamer taller than 6-foot-6. As an outcome, they are frequently at an extreme size downside, particularly versus a few of the European groups that utilize more conventional frontcourts.
Take this play from the opening minutes of the Montenegro video game, when Nikola Vucevic got 2 offending rebounds. On both events, Jackson has actually been retreated from the rim, which leaves the similarity Jalen Brunson and Anthony Edwards to attempt and handle Vucevic under the rim. The outcome is not a surprise.
There have actually likewise been circumstances of the Americans just getting outworked, nevertheless, such as the last play of the 3rd quarter versus Lithuania. All 5 Americans remained in the paint, yet Mindaugas Kuzminskas created the loose ball after a variety of pointers and scored an important basket at the buzzer.
Team USA’s small-ball method provides a considerable benefit in numerous locations, however in order to win this competition they’re going to need to rebound. That begins with Jackson. Even though he isn’t understood for his rebounding, he has to assist set the tone in that department as the beginning. When he’s not around the rim, either since he’s safeguarding somebody on the border or has actually challenged a shot, the rest of the group requires to assist choose up the slack. Plays like the Kuzminskas one can not occur.
It’s likewise reasonable to question if it’s time to offer Portis or Kessler some more prolonged minutes. Based upon the 2022-23 NBA season, they are statistically the group’s finest rebounders, yet they rank 10 th and 12 th on the group in minutes, respectively. That’s reasonable thinking about how Steve Kerr wishes to play, however if Team USA continues to have problem rebounding the ball, then a workers modification might be essential. Portis, in specific, has actually remained in lots of huge video games, can area the flooring, and is constantly going to offer full-blown effort.
The Americans’ very first possibility to make some enhancements on the boards will begin Tuesday when they handle Italy in the quarterfinals. While the Italians have actually scraped by sometimes in this competition, they go into as the second-best rebounding group staying, and have actually balanced 11.4 offending rebounds per video game.
Team USA is going to have a skill benefit versus every staying group, however as we’ve discovered time and once again through the years in worldwide competitions, that just implies a lot. In much shorter video games on smaller sized courts, versus more skilled and battle-tested challengers, you need to do the little things to win. And possibly no little thing is larger than rebounding.