About the only cruising USA Basketball has experienced the past week or so has been aboard the Silver Cloud ship which is housing the team instead of the Olympic Village where the other athletes reside.
Just two days after a three-point win over Serbia, Team USA looked uninspired and at times uninterested squeaking past Tony Parker-less France Sunday to reach the quarterfinal round where they will face Argentina on Wednesday.
Yes, the team Jerry Colangelo helped assemble is unbeaten but something is missing.
Actually, it’s a number of things according to former 1992 “Dream Team” member and Valley icon Charles Barkley.
“Watch all those guys,” Barkley told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Tuesday. “They all need the ball. You take away DeAndre Jordan, every guy on that team is a ball-dominant guy and you see them playing a lot of one-on-one basketball. That’s the thing I notice more than anything.”
Barkley believes the latest version lacks roll players and team-first veterans who don’t mind pulling back offensively to help pick up the slack at the other end of the court–an Achilles heel for the 2016 version who have stumbled to close wins as the competition has improved.
The offense hasn’t been immune to criticism, either.
“I think they’ve been really stagnant offensively,” he explained. “They’ve got a bunch of good players but they all want the ball.”
Turn back the clock.
“I don’t understand why we have to send our best players over there all the time,” he asked. “There’s no reason for Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony to be there on their third Olympic team…let’s send some young guys.”
The Suns Ring of Honor member suggests having the top rookie class to compete in the Olympics. He believes playing against older, proven veterans would help expedite the learning curve so many first-year players experience transitioning to the high level of play in the NBA.
For now, we’ll have to hope the current group can bring home the gold as all expect.
Barkley doesn’t seem too optimistic.
“It’s not a good team to put together,” he said. “I don’t think they did a good job.”
Sir Charles calling it like he sees it.
Some things never change.