Team USA may have arrived back home empty-handed after a disappointing showing at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, but that doesn't mean that the experience the players gained playing for their country in one of the most prestigious international basketball tournaments there is isn't helpful. In fact, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is excited for what's in store for Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart in the upcoming NBA season after representing their country during the summer.
Speaking with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, the Knicks head coach explained that there are more pros than cons when it comes to suiting up for Team USA, and that both Brunson and Hart will be much-improved players and people coming off that life-changing experience.
“The benefits far outweigh whatever negatives there might be. No one is being taxed to the point where he’s playing 40 minutes. You’re playing roughly half a game. And every player on your team is a great player, so you’re practicing against the best,” Thibodeau said.
As the old adage goes, “iron sharpens iron”, so playing against fellow Team USA representatives in training could have only brought out the best in both Knicks guards. Tom Thibodeau remembers what playing for the national team in 2010 did for his former mentee, Derrick Rose, who peaked in the NBA the season after he won the gold medal with Team USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
“I think it’s great for younger guys when you look at the history with the Olympics, the World Cup and Team USA. When Derrick Rose came back, that year he won the MVP. He was 22 years old,” the Knicks head coach added. “You can learn from playing that way and playing against international players. It allows you to hit the ground running in training camp, too.”
With the Knicks bringing back most of the pieces of the team that went on to push the Miami Heat, the NBA Finals runner-up, to seven games in the second round of the playoffs, more improvements from Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart could help elevate the Knicks from a middling playoff team to a legitimate championship contender.