Will the real Team USA please stand up?
"Players are better all over the world. Teams are better, and it's not easy to win a World Cup or an Olympic game.”
That’s what Team USA coach Steve Kerr said after eventual champion Germany eliminated the Americans in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup. Still, Team USA supporters and NBA fans around the world are sticking to their guns. For them, USA basketball’s failure to send its creme de la creme is the sole reason why the American hoopers left Manila empty-handed. Yes, they’re stubborn like that.
But hey, it’s not easy dismiss their claim. For next year’s Olympics, USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill will undoubtedly pull out all the stops to avoid another letdown. The first step he must take is to form the best Team USA possible.
With that, here are the players that he should be targeting for Paris 2024:
Point guards: Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, De’Aaron Fox
The greatest shooter in the history of the game happens to be an American who has yet to win an Olympic gold. Of course, Team USA should channel Vito Corleone and make Curry an offer he can’t refuse. Solidifying the American contingent at the point would be Lillard and Fox. Lillard is really Curry-like in terms of dropping long bombs, while Fox has that youthful energy and explosiveness. Just like Dame Time, the Sacramento Kings ace is a cold-blooded shot-maker. He was named Clutch Player of the Year last season in case you forgot.
Shooting guards: Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Anthony Edwards
The shooting guards are called shooting guards because they’re tasked to get buckets. D-Book and Spida have scored 70 and 71 points, respectively in a single NBA game. Edwards, fresh off a mythical five performance in the FIBA World Cup, has said before that he wants to wear USA on his chest for a long time. He should get his chance for redemption.
Small forwards: Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum
With KD and JT, the skill level of Team USA’s wing department will be unmatched, just as everyone saw in the Tokyo Olympics. They are two guys who can pile up the points, whenever and however they please. Their length and athletic prowess can also cause problems on the defensive end.
Power forwards: Anthony Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr.
For sure, JJJ is seeking redemption as well for his shortcomings in the FIBA World Cup. Following AD’s lead, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year will probably find the vindication he’s looking for. That’s because at any given night, the Brow can play like he’s the best big man in the game. If he imposes his will, especially on defense, it’s a wrap for the rest of the world.
AD’s got to stay healthy, though.
Centers: Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen
The Americans got roughed up inside the paint in the FIBA World Cup. Yes, JJJ and Paolo Banchero fought valiantly but it was clearly not enough. Team USA needs legit centers like Adebayo and Allen in international competition. With the Miami Heat All-Star manning the paint and the Cleveland Cavaliers slotman backing him up, USA's frontline will look like a fortress in the Olympiad.
By the way, Adebayo has been playing on a whole different level recently. Peep some of his highlights from the 2023 NBA Finals.
Members of the LeBron James army across the world might nuke us for excluding The King. After all, he went on Instagram and commented eye emojis on a Team USA poster with his image on it. But hey, what does that mean? No one really knows but LeBron. What’s certain is he’s going to be 39 next year. By that time, he himself might think that he’s too old to suit up for the Summer Games.
Nonetheless, the players who made the cut should be more than enough for Team USA to conquer Paris 2024.