USA Basketball has it’s roster for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Tokyo Olympics will be the swan song for Team USA Managing Director, Jerry Colangelo.
Colangelo helped rebuild Team USA after some disappointing results in International competition. With all the credit Colangelo deserves, the change truly happened with players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. were willing to make multi-year commitments to the national program.
Grant Hill will replace Colangelo.
We’ve seen that wane a bit especially in the FIBA World Cup where Team USA had problems getting commitments from high level players for various reasons. Team USA finished 7th.
The Olympics selection process has been different. Despite having some superstars pull out because of injury, for the most part, the league’s better players have been on board. The question will be roster construction.
More and more countries have NBA players on their roster. The globalization of the league has taken away what used to be Team USA’s biggest advantage.
Once again, Team USA is going with one point guard (Damian Lillard) and no true centers. This is a stark change from the post-1992 Team USA teams. Those teams had true centers like Shaq O’Neal etc.
What Team USA has chosen to do is use players who can do a combination of things. In the back court, instead of having a second true point guard, the roster has combo guards (Bradley Beal and Devin Booker) who can also handle the ball.
The roster have four players who will bring defense to the team. There’s no doubt that Jrue Holiday and Jerami Grant will have the assignment to get after their opponent’s best perimeter player. Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green fall into the flexibility model Colangelo is using. Both players can guard wing players and paint players. The major question is, will teams take advantage of their size in the paint and on the offensive glass. Kevin Love’s presence will not have the impact that it has had in the past. Love has been hampered by injuries and questions about his effort.
The wing players might be where Team USA is the strongest. Jayson Tatum is back after a strong season. His ability to hit the International three pointer along with getting to the basket against physical opponents with serve the team well. Khris Middleton provides knock down shooting while Zach Lavine’s ability to run the lanes and get to the front of the rim will be key.
But head and shoulders, this Olympic team will be known as Kevin Durant’s team. Durant is the most gifted scorer in the world along with being a legitimate weak side rim protector. Durant’s rim protection isn’t a discouraging one like Rudy Gobert but Durant has a knack to get to the right place with his athleticism. There should be concern that Durant still could be impacted by his injury but when you have one of the best players in the world, you’ll be in the conversation for gold.