On Sunday morning, the 2023 FIBA World Cup wrapped up after Team Germany beat Serbia 83-77. Heading into the World Cup, most pundits didn’t expect Germany and Serbia to play in the championship game. Instead, they expected the United States, France, and Canada to have the best roster – leading to dominating play. Team USA finished fourth, falling off the podium, and didn’t receive a medal. That result was surprising given that Grant Hill, Team USA’s managing director, compiled a very deep team from the coaching staff to the players.
Team USA’s roster depth was evident. Whenever opposing countries would rotate in their bench, and the U.S. did the same, there was a stark contrast in abilities on both ends of the floor. However, despite the Americans going 5-0 during their Basketball Showcase, the way the team was playing was far from perfect. They had team-wide issues shooting the ball, accumulated many turnovers, and could not control the glass at times. Thus leading to their underwhelming end to the tournament.
Team USA didn’t meet their championship expectations. However, they still earned a spot in the 2024 Olympics, which will take place in Paris. Over the years, the American fanbase has been spoiled with how prolific the rosters representing their country are. And with that comes high expectations. Every U.S. player plays a significant role this year on an NBA team. No other country can say that. Yet, the team still fell short of their goals despite how talented they were.
America’s roster had some incredible depth, and the bench looked better during stretches than the starters. However, Anthony Edwards had the most impressive showing. He was his country’s most reliable and dominant scorer – averaging 19 points on 45.5% from the floor.
Above all else, the most positive thing to come out of the World Cup for Edwards is the national media spotlight he received. This isn’t a new concept; many star players who play for small/mid-market teams typically have a more challenging time reaching NBA fans nationally. Even though we live in 2023, and worldwide news is available at everyone’s fingertips, some still think the only way for a star player to receive the national attention they deserve is by heading into a larger market.
That couldn’t be further from the truth, especially for someone as likable as Edwards. Sure, the Timberwolves should’ve been featured on more than nine nationally televised games, but that doesn’t mean Ant can’t thrive and build a legacy in Minnesota.
Edwards’ World Cup showing was a step in gaining that national spotlight. Going into the World Cup, it could have gone one of two ways. Either Ant would underperform, and the casual NBA fan would have changed their positive outlook on him. Or Ant would rise to the occasion, and the entire NBA world would be talking about his performance and how he is ready to lead a team to a deep post-season run. The ladder ensued.
Of course, the American crowd was disappointed to watch their country underperform late in the World Cup. However, you can’t lay the blame at Edwards’ feet. Not only did the 22-year-old guard help lead a star-studded Team USA, but he could also turn heads at a national level and further develop his popularity while, most importantly, staying healthy.