Kevin Durant Says 'The Stars Were Kind of Aligned' for Team USA Exhibition Losses

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 15, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Kevin Durant #7 of the USA Men's National Team shoots a free throw during the game against the Argentina Men's National Team on July 13, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant isn't panicking despite the fact that Team USA lost two of its first three exhibition games before the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, KD said several factors worked against the United States and contributed to the losses:

"We're a team that's still coming together and trying to find our identity. We have so many great players that you can play so many different ways, and we are indecisive at times on defense and offense. In the midst of us figuring it out, these teams are established and they're running their sets. We're working on our sets. The stars were kind of aligned for us to lose early on."

Team USA fell 90-87 to Nigeria on Saturday and 91-83 to Australia on Monday before righting the ship with a 108-80 win over Argentina on Tuesday.

The U.S. team is stacked with high-caliber NBA players. Durant is the biggest star, but he is far from alone, as Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors are also on the team.

Most of the players on Team USA are used to being go-to guys, and they don't have much experience playing together. Durant suggested Nigeria and Australia had a leg up in terms of chemistry and the players understanding their roles:

"Let's just go down the roster of each team and you can find the answer. If you're looking for NBA talent, those teams have it. Understand where we're at as a team and then you can make assumptions for yourself. We do have all the best players in the league, but these national teams have NBA players, too, who are now No. 1 options and they're used to playing that role internationally. We're still adjusting as a team, and that's not making excuses. There's a lot of context people need to understand. We didn't expect to lose a game, but losing games happen. We'll get it right."

While Durant makes sensible arguments, it didn't make the losses to Nigeria and Australia any less shocking given the United States' dominance over the years.

Before the Nigeria loss, Team USA was 54-2 in exhibition games since 1992. The Americans have also won gold at each of the past three Olympic Games.

Team USA looked far more comfortable and synergetic in the win over Argentina, lending hope to the idea that the losses to Nigeria and Australia were little more than growing pains.

It is also important to note that a quarter of Team USA's Olympic roster isn't even with the rest of the squad yet, as Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks are still competing in the NBA Finals.

All of them have thrived during the playoffs and figure to play big roles on Team USA, especially Booker, who dropped 42 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night.

KD said nothing has changed on Team USA's end despite the losses, saying: "We knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we're prepared to go to work. Our goal [of winning gold] hasn't changed. We'll be ready."

Even with the uneven start to the exhibition slate, the United States is still clearly the most talented team in the Olympic field, and it will remain heavily favored to win gold for the fourth time in a row. Australia is next up on the exhibition slate Friday at 6 p.m. ET.