After winning the last 3 Olympic Gold Medals, the US looks to take it’s 4th straight Gold Medal for the first time since 1968. But as history shows, that might not happen. In the 2004 Olympics, the US Men’s basketball team was on a 3 Olympics win streak and brought a lackluster squad compared to the previous years that we have seen. Something similar is brewing up in Las Vegas this year.
Who Is Playing for the US Men’s Basketball Team?
There are 12 interesting and unique players that have been selected to play for Team USA, with many previous winners and some first-timers. It will be interesting to see Gregg Popovich making his first international Head Coaching experience.
He has been an assistant coach under Larry Brown and Mike Krzyzewski for nearly 2 decades and now has the chance to lead the US in the Olympics. Another title to add to his illustrious coaching career.
Kevin Durant – One of the greatest scorers in this generation gets to play in his 3rd consecutive Olympics, and will most likely be the team captain and leading scorer.
Bam Adebayo – A bright young star for the Miami Heat who was not invited to the US Men’s Basketball team camp back in 2019 for the FIBA World Cup. Now, after having a great start to his NBA career, gets the chance to be a huge defensive anchor at the five spot.
Devin Booker – Another great young player, who has an exceptional ability to score and make plays for his teammates. Getting his first taste of international basketball, he will be coming off of an NBA Finals appearance, so his health and legs may still be a bit worn down.
Jerami Grant – A very underrated forward in the NBA, has broken out onto the scene in Detroit this past season putting up 22.3 points per game, setting a career high for him.
Draymond Green – One of the few players from that 2016 Gold Medal winning squad. Green has been an exceptional defender his entire career, he has the ability to score and make plays for his teammates. He will be a leader for this team as they head to Tokyo.
Jrue Holiday – One of the best perimeter defenders at the point guard position in the NBA, has exceptional athleticism that can help him explode to the paint. His legs will also be a bit worn down as his team is still in the Eastern Conference Finals, and looking to advance to the Finals.
Zach LaVine – The most athletic player on this team, he has developed his scoring from outside the arc as well throughout his time in Chicago. This first-time all-star is a great scoring asset that can help this team off the bench.
Damian Lillard – The 2nd best scoring guard in the league behind Stephen Curry, this guy can get it done on the offensive end. He’s in range as soon as he steps over the half-court line and he’s not afraid to let it fly. Also one of the best closers and clutch performers in the league, definitely expect him to have the ball in his hands late game.
Kevin Love – An interesting pick here because he really has not played that much basketball for the Cavs since LeBron James left again in 2018. I guess he was selected for his veteran leadership since he is also the longest-tenured player on this team alongside Kevin Durant.
Khris Middleton – A very, very inconsistent player who at times looks like he’s the best player in the league and almost immediately after looks like he’s a role player. I don’t expect him to be all that great in the Olympics considering he will be in the same spot as Jrue Holiday when it comes to fatigue and freshness.
Jayson Tatum – Another bright star in the league today who is an exceptional 3 level scorer. What he brings to this team is similar to Zach LaVine and Damian Lillard, they can all get buckets when it counts.
Bradley Beal – Second in the scoring title race this season for the Wizards, definitely underrated throughout his career because of his team. Easily a top 3 scorer on this team who is eager to get back into international basketball and represent the US team on the big stage.
Why They Won’t Win
I know you might think I’m crazy for saying that the US might not win, but hear me out. In 2016, that team looked like they weren’t a sure bet to win it all. There were times where they looked beatable and there were a few close scares during the group and knockout stages.
If these players have that same mindset that the 2004 team had, where they think they can cruise to the gold medal game because they’re the United States. They are in for a very rude awakening.
There is so much NBA talent that are representing their countries and many of them have already qualified for the Olympics or are playing in their respective qualifying tournaments.
As of right now the United States are selected into Group A for the group stages in Tokyo. The other two teams that have been placed with us are France and Iran. The last spot belongs to the winner of the Canadian FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Currently, the last four teams left in that tournament are Canada, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Greece.
The big-name player for Greece is obviously Giannis Antetokoumnpo, but because he is still playing in the NBA season the only way he can play in the Olympics is if his team can win this tournament without him, which might not happen.
Canada is the best team in this bracket because of all their youth and NBA talent sprinkled across their roster. RJ Barrett, Lu Dort, Andrew Wiggins, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker lead this team in terms of popularity and skill. Many stars are not playing because of either choice or injury, such as Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Turkey will most likely give Canada a run for their money in this tournament as they have a great team that plays international basketball and a few NBA talents including Cedi Osman and Furkan Korkmaz.
The US Basketball team could very well lose in an upset fashion to Canada/Turkey and France in the group stages. Sorry to Iran, but I don’t think they realistically stand a chance against them.
Canada is led by Nick Nurse who is an NBA Champion and one of the best coaches in the NBA today. France is one of the best teams with the most star studded roster, they have the reigning DPOTY Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Frank Ntikilina, and Nicolas Batum. All of these guys have plenty of international experience and actually gave the US a run for their money back in 2016.