While the Golden State Warriors won’t have any players representing Team USA in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, the national team will be led by the franchise’s four-time championship-winning coach in Steve Kerr.
Kerr was an assistant coach for San Antonio Spurs’ legend Gregg Popovich during Team USA’s victorious 2020 Olympic campaign. He officially took the reigns in December 2021, with this World Cup providing the first major opportunity for him to lead his country to a Gold medal.
Head coach Steve Kerr is already brining a distinctive Golden State Warriors style to Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup.
One of the most interesting elements of the USA’s lead up has been Kerr’s use of Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero. According to Basketball Reference, the 2022 first overall pick spent 70% of his time as a power-forward and 27% as a small-forward in his debut year with the Orlando Magic.
That projects to change for Banchero in the national team, with Kerr confirming the 20-year-old will see plenty of time as a center during the World Cup. Speaking after Team USA’s blowout 117-74 win over Puerto Rico in a warm-up game, Kerr alluded to the sort of versatility Panchero can provide as a small-ball five.
"“He’s going to play some five. One of the things we really found in the Tokyo Olympics was having a five who can push the ball and transition and create plays is very difficult for FIBA teams to handle. So he can play some four, as he showed, but he’ll play plenty of five as well”, Kerr said."
Kerr has re-invented the game with the multitude of success he’s had with small-ball lineups over his nine-year tenure at the Warriors. Draymond Green’s ability to play above his size has been key to that, with the four-time All-Star’s ball-handling and playmaking offering a nightmare for opposing defenses.
The 57-year-old will be hoping he can have similar success with Banchero over the USA’s World Cup campaign — the 6’10” forward averaged 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his rookie season.
The Team USA roster is already predisposed to playing the kind of high-tempo, fast-ball movement style that Kerr incorporates. The only traditional big man is impressive Utah Jazz youngster Walker Kessler, while Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to start at center despite spending most of his time as a power-forward for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia from August 25. Team USA has been drawn in Group C alongside Jordan, Greece and New Zealand.