In their first official exhibition game leading up to the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, USA Basketball beat Spain 90-81 at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday.
A lot has been made about Team USA’s talent, or lack thereof, over the last few weeks and criticism of the team hit in all-time high when it was reported that they lost to a team of G League players at practice on Monday. While neither team was going at full speed, Team USA looked sharp and Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma looked especially good.
Through 17 minutes for USA Basketball, Kuzma tallied 7 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a team-high +13 box plus-minus. While he did have some mental lapses, Kuzma played a pretty clean game overall.
The thing that stood out the most about Kuzma against Spain was his willingness to move the ball. Of course, Kuzma was moving off of the ball and trying to get open for a shot, but when the shot wasn’t there he tried to make the right pass. That’s a pretty stark contrast from last season.
Additionally, that improved defense fans have been hearing so much about was on full display. There were times he was simply overpowered because of his size at the power forward position, but his footwork was good and he looked decent defending in space. It’s a small sample size, sure, but it’s all we have for the time being.
USA Basketball will hop on a plane to Melbourne, Australia, where they’ll train before taking on Australia on Thursday. No cuts are going expected to be made before then.