USA Basketball went 5-0 in the exhibition games it played prior to the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. In all five of those games, the Americans trotted out the same starting lineup: Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges, Brandon Ingram, and Jaren Jackson Jr. It’s been reported in the past that Steve Kerr didn’t originally have that as his starting five, as Johnson had Edwards’ spot in the first scrimmage Team USA played against the Select Team.
Edwards came in for the second scrimmage and has been in that spot since, although it’s interesting that he came off the bench at any point, as the case can be made that Edwards is the team’s best player. In a new piece by Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Edwards looked back on the conversation we had with Kerr, who tried to sell him on the role by mentioning that Dwyane Wade came off the bench for the 2008 Olympic team because Kobe Bryant had a starting role.
“I mean, of course I wasn’t cool with it,” Edwards said. “If that’s what it takes, I mean, I am willing to do it, but nah, I’m never cool with that. … He said Dwyane Wade came off the bench when Kobe played. I was like, all right, we don’t have a Kobe, but all right. But it was cool.”
Edwards certainly rewarded the decision by having a performance reminiscent of the best days of Wade or Bryant, as he helped the U.S. come from behind against Germany with a 34-point outing.