Team USA: CJ McCollum admits there's a 'reason to be a little worried'


After dropping its first two exhibition games ahead of traveling overseas, Team USA may be at risk of not winning the gold medal in men's basketball for the first time since 2004.

Even Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has his concerns while watching from afar. On the latest epsiode on his podcast, McCollum said there's reason for concern ahead of the Games in Tokyo.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

"Team USA has definitely struggled out of the gate," said McCollum following the Americans going 1-2 in exhibition play and before it was announced Kevin Love and Bradley Beal will not travel to Tokyo. 

The Blazers shooting guard detailed why the Americans, by-far the most talented team in the field, have struggled out of the gate. 

"The major issue is they haven't had a lot of time to practice," CJ said. "Essentially just having five to seven days to play together as a team, to kind of go through plays, from a chemistry standpoint understanding spacing, you have a lot of players on the court who are trying to get used to each other." 

CJ added the Americans are playing these Olympics after the bubble and then a heavily condensed season with little practice time, where Team USA will play opponents "who have played together for years and are used to international basketball."


"These teams are experienced and they've spent a lot of time together," Damian Lillard said after losing to Australia. "We are still working at becoming a team."

Additionally, the Americans have struggled with the physicality of the international game with numerous players on Team USA not received the touch fouls called in the NBA. 

"Not only is the basketball different, the physicality is different, the rules are different slightly and the three-point line is much closer so I think all those things have definitely played a factor," McCollum added.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports wrote Tuesday that "multiple players, from Jayson Tatum to Bradley Beal, have been staring down the officials following no-calls as they’re accustomed to receiving touch fouls or star-treatment officiating in the NBA."

McCollum can see why some may be pessimistic about the Americans failing to win the gold medal after the exhibition letdowns. 

"There is definitely reason to be a little worried because of how close the Olympics are and this situation that they're going to go through: probably not having fans during the Olympics, probably not being able to move as freely as players are used to and then also, the fact that Bradley Beal [will miss the event.]

"I think all those things will play a huge, huge, huge factor in the success or failure of the USA team."

However, CJ still thinks the Americans will be fine if the team can find its groove. It's a chemistry problem, not an effort problem.

"They have the talent, they have the coaching staff, obviously, it's just a matter of how fast can they turn the corner, how fast can they find chemistry, how fast can they get comfortable with the international game and the way it's played.

"Guys are willing to learn and grow to represent the USA to the best of their abilities."