KEY POINTS

  • Julius Randle was never given a formal invite by USA Basketball, according to sources
  • An Academy Director says the current Team USA is not built for the physical brand of basketball
  • Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee were taken in as role players for Team USA

USA Basketball drew a lot of heat when they lost a couple of exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia as they prepare for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

But the woes of head coach Gregg Popovich and company did not end there.

Although they managed to get back on track with a win over Argentina, they lost a couple of players in Bradley Beal and Kevin Love.

Hence, there were two openings. The latest report is that Keldon Johnson of the San Antonio Spurs and JaVale McGee have been added.

But many wonder why they left out Julius Randle of the New York Knicks.

According to reports, the 2021 NBA Most Improved Player was heavily considered by the Team USA brain trust. However, they allegedly felt that they needed more role players.

Randle was amenable to joining Team USA. He is working out in his hometown of Dallas and is reportedly in shape.

But according to Marc Bergman of the New York Post, the one-time NBA All-Star was never formally offered a roster spot.

Adding Johnson and McGee could make sense especially considering the United States needs to realize that they need to get used to the physical brand of play of FIBA basketball.

In an exclusive interview with IMG Academy Dan Barto of the IMG Academy on the Sports For All PH podcast, he stressed that the team that went through the aforementioned exhibition games was not a physical team.

“The US team that is currently out there is not a physical team. They are not built to deal with physicality. I think that those two matchups (Nigeria and Australia) and people putting bodies on them all the time and again the US living and dying with contested shooting has made it difficult,” Barto explained to Filipino journalist Vincent Juico and Brian Yalung last July 16, 2021.

However, Barto pointed out that these were exhibition games that the USA team should win.

He also cautioned that it would be hard to pass off judgment until the final results.

“They are exhibition games, they are games that the US should win. But at the same time maybe it’s a way to create a sense of urgency so they don’t get upset at this weird Olympics that is going to go on. Popovich and these guys, it's hard to question what they are doing until the final result is there,” Barto stated.

Julius Randle Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks looks to pass the ball Photo: Getty Images | Julio Aguilar