Jaren Jackson Jr Smartly Dodges The Question Of Why His Rebounding Has Been Absolutely Atrocious At The FIBA World Cup

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For the second consecutive FIBA World Cup, Team USA let America down. A horrific and worst finish in their history 7th place in 2019 and then a potential 3rd/4th finish in 2023. Not great, regardless of what level of "team" you think the US sent over. There are plenty of reasons why Team USA is in this position and not competing for Gold in this tournament. Some of it is Kerr and how he performed during their run (not great), but there are also some issues when it comes to player production.

Take rebounding for example. If you watched these games you know that maybe the most glaring issue that Team USA had to deal with was teams with size and teams that crash the offensive glass. That's an issue that falls squarely on the team's bigs. Jaren Jackson Jr, the reigning DPOY, Bobby Portis, Paolo Banchero, they were all heavily exposed in that area. 

Most notably JJJ. Now rebounding isn't exactly his strong suit, even in the NBA. He's coming off a career high of 6.8 this past season, and part of that of course is playing next to Steven Adams. That's going to cut into your rebounding totals as you're playing more of the 4. But on Team USA, JJJ had to move to the five. Given the spacing and paint rules in FIBA, rebounding is more important than ever. Teams with size who play a more traditional style tend to give Team USA fits. 

JJJ has responded by averaging 2.9 rebounds a game. 

So what does he have to say about it? Not a godamn thing

Very smart move by JJJ here. Everyone is clowning Team USA right now given what happened yesterday, the media is just waiting for you say anything about a topic we're all discussing as a main reason why your team lost. That's the most obvious no comment situation I've ever seen. There's nothing you can really say to defend 2.9 rebounds a game from your 6'10 starting center. I know he had somewhat of a roamer role defensively at times, but so what? Crash the glass. Be aggressive. 

What I find fascinating about this is JJJ was one of Team USA's best players early. He looked dominant in the tune up games and early in the Group stage. But as the World Cup has gone on, he's seeminly been worse and worse. Can't stop fouling to save his life, isn't hitting jumpers. most certainly isn't rebounding, it's been tough.

I'm sure there will be some out there that are now down on JJJ as we head into the season, but to me that would be foolish. We can't exactly pretend his 2023 season didn't happen 

and now having a Smart/Jackson pairing is going to suffocate offenses. 

But it's also true he had an overall terrible World Cup run and if he's going to be in the mix for the big boy team in Paris, something has to be figured out with that frontcourt because I don't think we can expect JJJ to rebound at a high enough level in these international competitions.