Long delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are now just a month-and-a-half away. The games are scheduled to begin on July 23 and will run through August 8.
With the Olympics around the corner, USA Basketball will soon have to determine which players will make its preliminary roster, then will have to pare that group down to 12 players for Tokyo.
Team USA announced an initial pool of 57 players in March, so there are seemingly plenty of options to represent the country at next month’s Olympics. However, many of the names on that list may be off limits.
As Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes, Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to skip this year’s Olympics in favor of letting their late-season injuries recover. Other players on that list of 57 names, such as Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, Pacers center Myles Turner, Heat guard Victor Oladipo, Spurs guard Derrick White, and Knicks center Mitchell Robinson were also dealing with injuries when the season ended and probably won’t be prepared to suit up this summer. LaMarcus Aldridge has retired.
Meanwhile, players who could be poised for deep playoff runs, such as Nets stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, also may be off the table for Team USA, since the NBA Finals could run as late as July 22. Olympic training camps will begin well before then.
Jazz guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, Sixers forward Tobias Harris, Hawks guard Trae Young, Suns guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, and Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are among the other players who may not be inclined to participate if they’re in the playoffs until July, or even late June.
Still, there are several intriguing names potentially available for Gregg Popovich‘s squad. Vardon hears that Warriors guard Stephen Curry is “50-50” on participating, while Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is thought to have strong interest in playing. Vardon also suggests that Celtics forward Jayson Tatum could be a headliner for Team USA.
Among players whose NBA seasons are over, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Knicks big man Julius Randle, Wizards guards Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, and Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are among the most intriguing names. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, Warriors big man Draymond Green, and Kings forward Harrison Barnes were members of the 2016 Team USA squad that won Olympic gold and could be considered again.
If Team USA’s top choices opt not to participate, there are plenty of other intriguing names on the list of 57 candidates, including up-and-comers like Jarrett Allen, Jerami Grant, Christian Wood, Duncan Robinson, and Fred VanVleet.
We want to know what you think. Taking into account the players who are unlikely to participate for health reasons or due to deep postseason runs, what would your ideal 12-man USA Basketball roster look like?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your picks!