Yahoo Sports NBA writers Jake Fischer and Dan Devine discuss the Americans advancing to the next round of the tournament following a 110-62 win over Jordan, which included a lineup shaking move by head coach Steve Kerr.
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JAKE FISCHER: The US move to 3 and 0. They had already qualified for the second round. US waxed Jordan– not Michael Jordan, the Jordanian national team.
The biggest storyline of this game, though, was the fact that Steve Kerr changed up the starting lineup for the first time. Josh Hart moved into the starting lineup in exchange for Brandon Ingram.
Ingram’s not really just, like, a stand in the corner, catch-and-shoot guy. He’s a creator type of player. And he definitely felt more comfortable in the reserve unit today. He told me that post-game.
The second unit with Tyrese Haliburton definitely has, like, a zippier, fast pace, move the ball, runaway style to it, where in the starting lineup, Ingram has kind of been a little bit lost, banished to the corner almost, watching Anthony Edwards and Jalen Brunson take turns doing high screen action with Jaren Jackson.
So Josh Hart comes in– three Villanova teammates. That synergy is definitely still there between him and Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson.
DAN DEVINE: It seems like we’re still sort of waiting for the establishment of who’s quote, unquote, “the guy.” There’s been different lead scorers every game these first three games. Anthony Edwards, obviously a big game today. He had 22 points in 19 minutes, and sort of took the step forward where a lot of people had looked at him and said, is he going to be that sort of lead wing scorer that pretty much every other American team has had in years past?
The Ingram thing, I think you’re right. Obviously, it’s the biggest functional point because it suggests a shift to how they’re going to play moving forward.
It helps the first unit make a little bit more sense, too. Like, you’re removing a guy who is used to being a number one option, shot creator. And you’re putting in a kind of connector, plug and play guy. Like, Josh Hart playing a very similar role to what he did alongside Brunson in New York.
It really– it clarifies things more. Jaren Jackson’s going to be the screen and dive guy. Mikal Bridges is going to space the floor more readily. Josh Hart is going to cut and screen and do a lot of, like, dirty work stuff. And then you’re going to have the ball in the hands of Brunson and Anthony Edwards more often than not.
And so it sort of simplifies everybody’s roles while also giving Ingram more of a chance to find his rhythm in a second unit that’s just been absolutely gangbusters so far. It seems like a really fluid Team USA.
The size question is one that I think we’re going to have to see resolved maybe a little bit more in these next sort of group stage games, where you’re looking at Lithuania and Montenegro, who have NBA-caliber bigs– or not NBA-caliber, starting NBA bigs, star-level NBA bigs. And we’re going to find out if Jaren Jackson, Jr., is sort of equal to that task.
If it’s a more of a Walker Kessler situation, Paolo Banchero as a small ball five, we’re going to find out if the way that Steve Kerr wants to play sort of smaller, zippier, switcher is going to hold up against those FIBA bigs. But I think you have to be encouraged by what you’ve seen so far, especially with this lineup change kind of getting everybody unlocked a little bit today.
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