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Will Team USA’s Failure Fuel the Celtics?

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Boasting four players on Team U.S.A’s roster — Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart — no club was better represented than Boston’s. That also means that no other team had a greater hand in, arguably, the worst squad in Team U.S.A’s history than Boston either. 

While the U.S roster was marred with several notable withdrawals before their Las Vegas training camp and a string of injuries — including Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum — their success, or lack thereof, was still lamentable.

Those aforementioned players who withdrew; including James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, among others, presented young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with the perfect opportunity to shine. Instead, the fruits of their labor bore a seventh-place finish — arguably the worst in Team U.S.A’s distinguished history. 

In spite of those key injuries to Smart and Tatum, the four player’s international outing could prove instrumental in their success moving forward. Not only did it provide Boston’s star free-agent signee, Kemba Walker, to share the floor with three of his new teammates, but it provided Smart, Tatum and Brown the chance to operate under Walker’s stead — who will serve as the team’s surrogate leader henceforth. 

For Tatum and Brown, whose names are constantly included in hypothetical trade-conversations, Team U.S.A’s failure will be yet another motivating force. While Brown has continued to face widespread criticism for his lack of progression, Tatum’s 2018-19 campaign was nothing short of a sophomore-slump — overshadowed by the drama surrounding its former star, Kyrie Irving.

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Now, exiting the shadow of Irving’s perplexing brand of leadership, as well as losing key players like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, Tatum and Brown’s increased roles could spark a fire in the young tandem — fueled by their failure in years past. 

Moreover, with the NBA’s landscape irrevocably changed by free-agent acquisitions and trades, at an unprecedented rate, having four players work tirelessly to achieve one goal before the season’s commencement is critical. Especially when those four players rank amongst the club’s best and most reliable.

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