Bharat Sports – All the Latest Sports News, Scores, and Live Streaming


A key number stands out from Team USA’s two second-round games at the 2023 FIBA World Cup: One. That’s how many rebounds starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. — reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year — has pulled down in the win over Montenegro and loss to Lithuania combined. One. 

After cruising through the group stage with an average margin of victory of 36.3 points, the Americans have run into some trouble in the second round. They escaped against Montenegro, but weren’t able to pull off a comeback against Lithuania after trailing by as much as 21 points in the first half. The common denominator in both games was the Americans getting bullied on the glass, on the defensive end in particular. While that certainly doesn’t fall all on Jackson, his ineffectivness as the team’s starting five-man stands out. 

Here’s a look at the numbers:

Vs. Montenegro

Teams Off. Rebounds Rebounds Second-chance points









Vs. Lithuania

Teams Off. Rebounds Rebounds Second-chance points









“The concern is turnovers and rebounds,” head coach Steve Kerr said on Friday. “If we stay even on the possession game, I feel great about our chances against anybody. The way teams can beat us is if they get extra possessions and force a lot of turnovers and we’re not sharp and we’re not boxing out. And I’ve told our guys that. … It’s not really a secret.”

While repeatedly getting crushed on the glass certainly wasn’t by design, it is to an extent a result of Team USA’s roster building. Jackson is best suited as a power forward, and the only other true bigs on the team are Bobby Portis, another power forward, and Walker Kessler, the second-youngest player on the team. In the current starting lineup, Jackson is the only player taller than 6-foot-6. As a result, they are often at a severe size disadvantage, especially against some of the European teams that use more traditional frontcourts. 

Take this play from the opening minutes of the Montenegro game, when Nikola Vucevic grabbed two offensive rebounds. On both occasions, Jackson has been pulled away from the rim, which leaves the likes of Jalen Brunson and Anthony Edwards to try and deal with Vucevic under the rim. The final result is no surprise. 

There have also been instances of the Americans simply getting outworked, however, such as the final play of the third quarter against Lithuania. All five Americans were in the paint, yet Mindaugas Kuzminskas came up with the loose ball after a number of tips and scored a crucial basket at the buzzer. 

Team USA’s small-ball approach gives them a significant advantage in many areas, but in order to win this tournament they’re going to have to rebound. That starts with Jackson. Even though he isn’t known for his rebounding, he has to help set the tone in that department as the starting center. But when he’s not around the rim, either because he’s guarding someone on the perimeter or has challenged a shot, the rest of the team needs to help pick up the slack. Plays like the Kuzminskas one cannot happen. 

It’s also fair to wonder if it’s time to give Portis or Kessler some more extended minutes. Based on the 2022-23 NBA season, they are statistically the team’s best rebounders, yet they rank 10th and 12th on the team in minutes, respectively. That’s understandable considering how Steve Kerr wants to play, but if Team USA continues to have trouble rebounding the ball, then a personnel change may be necessary. Portis, in particular, has been in tons of big games, can space the floor, and is always going to give all-out effort. 

The Americans’ first chance to make some improvements on the boards will come on Tuesday when they take on Italy in the quarterfinals. While the Italians have scraped by at times in this tournament, they enter as the second-best rebounding team remaining, and have averaged 11.4 offensive rebounds per game. 

Team USA is going to have a talent advantage against every remaining team, but as we’ve learned time and again through the years in international tournaments, that only means so much. In shorter games on smaller courts, against more experienced and battle-tested opponents, you have to do the little things to win. And perhaps no little thing is bigger than rebounding. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *