USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said he believes the U.S. would have won the 2019 FIBA World Cup had it not been for injuries.
"I believe that if we didn't have those injuries, we would have won," Colangelo told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. "The injuries were just too much to absorb."
Kyle Kuzma was forced to withdraw due to injury after the team's first exhibition game, while Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart also missed time in the World Cup with injuries. Others, like Kyle Lowry, were forced to withdraw from the team much earlier in the process.
Colangelo also expressed frustration with players who said they would play before backing out, most choosing to rest their bodies for the upcoming NBA season.
"The disappointment I feel is not from the guys who said they wouldn't play," Colangelo said. "It's those that said they would, and then backed out."
James Harden, Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard are among the players who were healthy but chose to not suit up for Team USA. Colangelo said he plans to deal with the withdrawals "individually" as it comes to the 2020 Olympics.
While Kuzma and Tatum were a pair of floor spacers who could have helped Team USA's shooting woes, it's hard to see this team finding a way to win gold in the World Cup. They lost in an exhibition to Australia before dropping games against France and Serbia. While those teams were talented, all three losses came against non-medal teams.
The United States did not play a team that medaled in the entire tournament. For Colangelo to say injuries were the difference between seventh and gold is a pretty far stretch given the level of play we saw from the U.S.