Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has made a successful start to his first major tournament as leader of Team USA, with the World Cup favorites moving to 2-0 after a dominant win over Greece on Monday.
Led by 15 points from Laker guard Austin Reaves, the Americans won each of the four-quarters to come away with a comfortable 109-81 victory against a Greek team minus two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Steve Kerr can draw on his experience with the Golden State Warriors to prepare Team USA for sterner tests later in the FIBA World Cup.
Aside from the opening minutes against New Zealand on Saturday, it’s been nothing but a simple and expected walk in the park for Team USA over the first two games. They’ve won both games by a combined 55 points, allowing Kerr the opportunity to distribute the workload across his 12-man roster.
After 10 players played between 15 and 25 minutes against New Zealand, 11 players saw between 13 and 21 minutes on Monday against the Greeks. Nine players took between two and six field-goal attempts, with only Reaves (seven), Cameron Johnson (seven) and Anthony Edwards (11) taking more.
But while Kerr has had that luxury throughout the opening two games, it’s unlikely to continue once the knockout stages commence. Not only do they become do-or-die matchups, but naturally the competition gets harder and harder.
The Canadians look particularly strong with two wins by a combined 85 points. Germany and Spain are also in form with two wins, as are the Slovenians who always provide a challenge by the sheer presence of Luka Doncic.
Kerr will be tasked with ensuring his team is ready once the sterner tests come. That will include making some hard calls on players and narrowing his rotation, with frustration having already emerged from some in regard to their roles within the team.
This is where his experience with the Warriors can come into play. Sure, Golden State have never had the sort of deep talent that a World Cup or Olympic roster does, but they have had teams that were so dominant that their motivation levels waned and had to be managed during an NBA regular season.
Who can forget when Kerr let his players coach themselves during a game against the Phoenix Suns in 2018. Kerr’s famously fun-style of leadership has held the Warriors in good stead, with the franchise having won four championships and made the NBA Finals on a further two occasions over the last nine years.
Now he’ll look to balance Team USA in providing a relaxing environment where players can thrive, while ensuring they don’t receive a fatal rude shock from a dangerous opponent once the next stage begins.
The Americans will have one more group game to fine-tune their form, with a matchup against Jordan and former six-year NBA veteran Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to take place on Wednesday morning (PT).