Team USA's World Cup odyssey came to a merciful end Saturday with a win over Poland and a 7th-place finish -- the worst finish for Team USA in a major event.
Donovan Mitchell, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown & Co. were looking to pull off a FIBA World Cup three-peat, which has never been done in the 69-year history of the event, but NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and France dashed those dreams with an upset in the quarterfinals.
Team USA roster: FIBA World Cup
Players to withdraw: Marvin Bagley III (Kings); Bradley Beal (Wizards); Anthony Davis (Lakers); Andre Drummond (Pistons); De'Aaron Fox (Kings); Eric Gordon (Rockets); James Harden (Rockets); Montrezl Harrell, Clippers; Tobias Harris (76ers); Kyle Kuzma (Lakers); Damian Lillard (Blazers); Kevin Love (Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Raptors); CJ McCollum (Blazers); Paul Millsap (Nuggets); Julius Randle (Knicks); P.J. Tucker (Rockets).
FIBA World Cup schedule (all times ET)
Sept. 1: USA 88, Czech Republic 67 (Shanghai, China)
Sept. 3: USA 93, Turkey 92 OT (Shanghai, China)
Sept. 5: USA 98, Japan 45 (Shanghai, China)
Sept. 7: USA 69, Greece 53 (Shenzhen, China)
Sept. 9: USA 89, Brazil 73 (Shenzhen, China)
Sept. 11: Quarterfinals: France 89, USA 79 (Dongguan, China)
Sept. 12: Consolation round (Dongguan, China)
Sept. 13: Semifinals (Beijing, China)
Sept. 14: Consolation round (Beijing, China)
Sept. 15: Bronze medal game (Beijing, China)
Sept. 15: Finals (Beijing, China)
Team USA exhibition schedule
Aug. 9: Team Blue 97, Team White 78 (T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas, Nevada)
Aug. 16: USA 90, Spain 81 (Honda Center | Anaheim, California)
Aug. 22: USA 102, Australia 86 (Marvel Stadium | Melbourne, Australia)
Aug. 24: Australia 98, USA 94 (Marvel Stadium | Melbourne, Australia)
Aug. 26: USA 84, Canada 68 (Qudos Bank Arena | Sydney, Australia)
Team USA finished World Cup play with a win over Poland to finish seventh, their worst finish ever in a major event. Now what? Will superstars come to the rescue next summer in the Tokyo Games? Don't be too sure.
Team USA will play for seventh place Saturday in Beijing. It will be the worst finish in a World Cup for the country -- and that positioning is probably about right. That's right where the Americans belong in this event. Had they pulled off the win over France, they likely didn't have the horsepower to win two more.
FIBA's promotion of Friday's World Cup semifinals came with the tagline: "The throne is empty." Let's translate that: The king is dead. Since leaving for Australia to play a three-game exhibition tour, this group is 7-3. Had Turkey not botched several chances to beat them last week, Team USA would be 6-4.
For all of their starry absences, the U.S. will be the favorite to retain their FIBA World Cup when the 2019 edition tips off in China. But an upset isn't that difficult to imagine. We're breaking down Team USA and all its challengers.
Gregg Popovich's squad ranks just eighth among the 32 teams at the World Cup in points per game and a woeful 20th in field goal percentage. So why can't this edition of Team USA score?
Rui Hachimura, the Wizards' prized prospect, has gone from a nice little story to a full-fledged sensation in the Far East.
As one of two all-stars on Team USA, and the only member of the roster to change teams this offseason, Kemba Walker is taking time to enjoy the moment.
Donovan Mitchell is savvy about his place and his goals. He wants to be a big star, and on an American team without many there's no doubt he smells opportunity. Gregg Popovich is helping him with that opportunity by entrusting a leadership role in the 22-year-old Utah Jazz guard.
A third-place finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics wasn't just viewed as a failure -- it forced USA Basketball to rethink everything.
Team USA has won five straight gold medals, with its last loss coming in 2006. But with many of the league's stars sitting out this summer's tournament, there is talk that Team USA is ripe for an upset. That kind of talk, though, has become motivation for the players who are preparing to represent the United States in the World Cup.
The shifting Team USA roster over the past several weeks enabled Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to earn invites. Jayson Tatum was already on the roster, and Kemba Walker had committed before he signed with the Celtics in free agency. It all created an unexpected chance for the established Celtics to get time together with their new teammate.
What does Gregg Popovich have left to prove? Putting together this team is a big lift. Leading it to an undefeated run and a world championship is a big ask, even for a living legend with an impeccable record and solid gold reputation. The risk/reward ratio is off. So why is he doing it?