US men’s basketball seeking some ways to click on offense

Jul 26, 2021, 6:39 PM | Updated: Jul 27, 2021, 7:16 am

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for Brooklyn this past season. Same goes for Damian Lillard in Portland, Devin Booker in Phoenix, Jayson Tatum in Boston, Zach LaVine in Chicago and Jerami Grant in Detroit.

At home, they’re all probably the guy with the ball when games are on the line.

At the Olympics, that won’t be the case.

Having players settle into new roles is not a new issue for USA Basketball, since virtually every team the national governing body for the sport puts together — at every level — features those who are used to being the star of their respective high school, college or pro teams. But for the U.S. men’s team chosen to play at the Tokyo Olympics, finding what those roles are and how the pieces best fit is still very much a work in progress.

“Alpha, leader, I mean, that stuff changes from game to game,” said Durant, already a two-time Olympic gold medalist. “Guys get hot. Different guys may lead us in scoring. … Everybody chips in.”

Durant’s point was clear: Someone needs to lead in every game, but it doesn’t always have to be the same someone. The U.S. (0-1) plays Iran (0-1) on Wednesday in a Group A game in Saitama, favored to win the game in a landslide by FanDuel, and it could be an opportunity for both some momentum to be formed and for roles to become more clearly defined going forward.

“It is a challenge to figure out how to stay aggressive while also playing for the team,” U.S. assistant coach Lloyd Pierce said Tuesday. “A lot of these guys are used to a lot of shots, more minutes, more opportunities and now they’re playing with a great player to their right and a great player to their left.

“So, we need them to be as confident as they always are. We need them to do it as a unit, and we need them to learn they don’t have to make the same place that they make on the NBA teams — but they need to have the same mentality and mindset.”

And that wasn’t there on Sunday.

The U.S. shot just 36% in its opening loss to France, the worst percentage from any of the 12 teams in their respective first Olympic contests at Saitama.

The 76 points by the Americans was second lowest of any team (Nigeria scored only 67) — and was the second-lowest point total in any game by a U.S. men’s team in the Olympics in the last 45 years. The Americans scored 73 in a loss to Puerto Rico to open the 2004 Olympics, the most recent one in which the U.S. did not win gold.

Durant said the Americans spent much of its practice time Monday and Tuesday working on the offense.

“Looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Emily Fox of the U.S., center, leads a string of teammates against New Zealand during their women's...
Associated Press

US forward Alex Morgan supports transgender kids in sports

Forward Alex Morgan says the U.S. national team should have internal discussions about whether to play exhibition games in states that restrict transgender kids from participating in sports. The team is currently preparing for the SheBelieves Cup, a round-robin tournament with Canada, Brazil and Japan that starts next week. Matches are scheduled in Florida and […]
15 hours ago
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football ...
Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Goodell tackles diversity, concussions

PHOENIX (AP) — From diversity to concussions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league is still looking for improvement. As for officiating, he says: “it’s never been better.” Goodell addressed those topics and more, including the Washington Commanders’ investigation, flex scheduling and international play in his annual Super Bowl news conference Wednesday. DeMeco Ryans became […]
15 hours ago
CORRECT ID TO MICHAEL SKUBALA , NOT SIMON HOOPER  - Leeds United's interim head coach Michael Skuba...
Associated Press

Man United stages fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds in EPL

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Leeds in the Premier League on Wednesday. Substitute Jadon Sancho rescued a point for Erik ten Hag’s team, which missed the chance to move level on points with second-place Manchester City. Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday. It is […]
15 hours ago
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones speaks to the media during the NFL football Super B...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Jones sets sack standard for Kansas City defense

PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Jones claims to have very little memory of a relatively benign game in 2017, when the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed the Philadelphia Eagles to Arrowhead Stadium for the second game of the regular season. Jason Kelce remembers it quite well. The veteran Philadelphia center spent the afternoon lining up alongside Isaac […]
2 days ago
Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin speaks after being introduced as the winner of the Alan Page Community ...
Associated Press

Hamlin appears during Super Bowl event to receive award

PHOENIX (AP) — Damar Hamlin made a brief appearance in Phoenix during Super Bowl week to receive the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award. The Buffalo Bills safety received the award at the Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, a little over a month after he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the […]
2 days ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes answers a question during an NFL football Super Bowl...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Mahomes says ankle will be ready for Super Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes says he’s “definitely in a better spot” when it comes to his ailing right ankle than he was for the AFC championship game, and the All-Pro quarterback doesn’t expect to be limited by it when he leads the Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. […]
2 days ago
US men’s basketball seeking some ways to click on offense