The 3-point shot, the weight of the episodes and the incompleteness of Italy.
After a few days to settle the various thoughts and collect various other impressions, you can try to sum up the situation FIBA World Cup 2023, the second with 32 teams, played between the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. A world championship that in the final phase reserved many surprises and very tight challenges. Schroeder and Wagner’s Germany emerged victorious, magnificently directed by coach Herbert.
Let’s try to list 5 points, among manywhich can be discussed after the end of the tournament.
32 teams is still too many
Basketball is becoming an increasingly global game, talent has never been as widespread as it is today. The opening of the NBA towards the rest of the world in the early 2000s also produced growth in areas historically absent from major events, except in the role of extras. The history of South Sudan is something humanly wonderful, the passion of the Philippines is second to very few and Japan shows the desire to become something more than an extra.
But it is undeniable that among the 32 at least 4/5 teams did not have the right to citizenship in high-level basketball: Iran, Cape Verde, Lebanon and Venezuela turned out to be formations not yet ready for the meeting. We should have included Jordan in this group, but such an injustice cannot be done to those who made the participation of the vero MVP of the tournament? In a tournament with this formula, the first phase suffered from at least 10 completely uninteresting matches, drastically lowering the average quality of the competition. Wouldn’t it be better to organize a 24-team FIBA WC in 2023?
NBA basketball has arrived in the FIBA area
Take the statement however banal and deadly it may sound from an analytical point of view, the 3-point shot is the big difference between NBA and “FIBA”. Regarding the use of shots from beyond the arc, in the last 3 editions of the FIBA WC the average number of 3-point shots attempted per game has gone from 21.97 in ’14, to 24.33 in ’20’19 up to 27.63 of this edition; an almost arithmetic progression. In 9 years there are almost 6 more 3-pointers per team and Argentina, the record holder with an average of 27.7 3-point shots in 2014, would have placed just 16th in 2023. The 2-point shots, stable around 40 in both ’14 and ’19, dropped to 37 in the summer between Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
The 3-point shot took 7 shots every 100 possessions: the field is also expanding in the FIBA area. (Source: www.Basketballreference.com)
This trend should not be confused with the banal retreat of attacks towards a shot less contestable by the defenses, but as the attempt to widen the field in search of better quality shots even from 2 points (ideally those close to the basket). It cannot be a coincidence that, in the 3 editions examined, the % of 2 points went from 49.9% in 2014 to 53.9% in 2023; we are thinking of around 5.5 points more per game, a notable figure. There is a greater reliance on 3-point shooting to increase expected points per possession, both benefiting from rising 3-point percentages and emptier areas to improve 2-point attempt percentages, just like in the NBA.
Team USA is a team like any other
Fourth place is a failure. The 3 defeats in a single tournament are unique in the history of Team USA: a disaster in no uncertain terms. At the same time it is quite natural to think that very few elements will even be able to be included in the 2023 roster considerable for the 2024 Olympicsfor which let’s prepare ourselves for an atmosphere from Redeem Team proposed ad nauseum. As it stands, only Edwards, Bridges and Haliburton appear to have a chance, with Banchero and Austin Reaves among them. those who are suspended; the Lakers shooter has demonstrated excellent adaptability to FIBA basketball, but defensive doubts weigh on him, made evident by what has been targettato on defensive changes from opposing attacks (excluding Italy…).
Brunson, Ingram, Cam Johnson, JJJ: honestly too many resounding failures so as not to think that the overall design around which the roster was built was wrong. The 8 matches of the World Cup have exposed the contradictions of entrusting the contemporary task of rebounder and defensive anchor to Jackson Jr., someone who doesn’t even have 7 rebounds in the NBA and has chronic foul problems, while Ingram’s talent simply hasn’t proven functional in a basketball with different spaces compared to the NBA. All this has generated rebound problems bordering on embarrassment, while DefRtg’s figure of 134 against Germany is beyond any acceptable decency. The choices of not giving Walker Kessler a real chance (solely status reasons?), relying on Portis in Jackson’s absence, certainly disappointed all those who saw the coaching staff as the added value of this edition of Team USA.
The Paris 2024 version will probably be second to a few versions of the Stars and Stripes national team of the last 30 years in terms of physical and technical talent, but from this FIBA WC the Americans should learn how, in the absence of first choices, the roster is to study in a painstaking way, not limiting ourselves to collecting what is considered the best remaining.
Italy is not yet ready for the leap
There is a lot of discussion about how to evaluate the Italian World Cup. On the one hand there are those who remember that we reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup (most realistic competition than the Olympics) after 25 years and that before the final we had been the only ones to beat Serbia. On the other hand, it is argued that Italy’s path was greatly facilitated by much more than affordable groups and that, despite this, the defeat against the Dominican Republic then required a combination of favorable results to enter the quarterfinals.
The 3 final defeats, the resounding one in the quarter-finals against the USA and the following two in the consolation matches, certainly gave a bittersweet flavor to a tournament that the boys from Pozzecco, before the 2-pointer of Lithuania-USAthey had put themselves in a position to make it memorable. The quarter against the USA was effectively over after 15 minutes: when it was realized that our shooting percentages were not at all sufficient, the team quickly raised the white flag, also thanks to a Team USA with super laced shoes after the misstep against Lithuania.
The 3-point shot was our “story” of this World Cup: it had to be there game changing skill of Italy, the one capable of transforming an objectively limited team into a group that you would never want to find in your way in a (semi)direct elimination phase like that of the FIBA WC, but from the first match it was instead the great absent, despite the excellent performance in the preparation matches. Our World Cup probably wouldn’t have changed that much (we would still have found the USA in the quarterfinals), but probably a greater difference in the initial matches would have changed the overall opinions.
After all, it’s three weeks of basketball
This image represents a concept that should never be forgotten
FIBA WC on stake
4 seconds at the end of the quarter-final, Germany +2 on Luca Banchi’s Latvia. Bertans, someone who won contracts in the NBA for his 3-point shooting, with a well-constructed shot and a decent vision of the basket, only slightly disturbed by Bonga in desperation close out. At that moment there is nothing the Germans can do, only hope: they are not masters of their destiny.
Outcome 1: Bertans makes a mistake, Germany wins the quarter-final, surprises the world against the USA and then, led by Schroeder, also wins against Serbia and becomes World Champion with the Lakers point guard named MVP.
Outcome 2: Bertans scores, Germany emerges as favorites of the match, Schroeder (disastrous against the Latvians) becomes the scapegoat for all Teutonic regrets, adhering to the perennial label of dysfunctional player, prima donna and loser centralizer, which he will never get rid of again.
The border line between the two scenarios, so antithetical to each otherit is only and exclusively the shot you saw in the image above. It is therefore worth always remembering that we are still talking about a 3-week direct elimination tournament, which can tell us a truth, but it will only be the your. A missed or scored shot changes scenarios 360°, radically changing narratives around players and teams. Be guided by these in your conclusions narrative it will not help us in the analysis: we must accept, ultimately, that even a tournament like the World Cup has a very relative weight on the vast majority of conclusions that can be drawn.