Alright, alright, let’s cut to the chase. You’re here to see who’ll be on Team USA men’s basketball roster for this upcoming Olympics. Maybe your NBA team is out of the playoffs, maybe it’s not looking good for them in the first round, or maybe you’re just a fan of seeing big-bad Team USA beat up on the little guy (if so, you probably are also a big fan of Cobra-Kai, Regina George, and Draco Malfoy). Team USA released 57 finalists in March but that is nowhere near specific enough as only 12 will make the final roster. We, of course, can’t just take the 12 best American players either because a number of guys will opt out due to injuries, age/recovery, other commitments, etc. Given all that, what will the final 12 man squad look like?
The average age of the 2016 Team USA squad was 26.8 at the conclusion of the Olympics and the Dream Team’s average age was roughly 29. I think this year we will see an even younger average as players have had to deal with the rigors of the 2020 bubble and the delayed 2021 NBA season that might not end until July 22. This is more than a month past usual and only one day prior to the Opening Ceremony of the 2020/2021 Olympic Games. Older players, the injured, and those who make deep NBA playoff runs will be more likely to opt out or be forced out due to injury. So, that likely leaves a younger, unproven (in Olympic play) squad unless Team USA Olympic Demigod Carmelo decides to give it one more run at 37 years old. Never say never when it comes to Carmelo and the Olympics.
- Steph Curry, GS Warriors / Davidson – 33 YO
- Dame Lillard, Portland Trailblazers / Weber State – 30 YO
- Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz / Louisville- 24 YO
The guards are very offensively focused, but the bigs will cure a lot of their defensive deficiencies. And who are we kidding? This is the Olympics… we want to see dudes drop an alley-oop on some dude from Lichtenstein (or in the case of these guards pull up from half court). Curry is the elder statesmen of this group at 33 years old but he does not have an Olympic Gold under his belt. The Warriors also did not make the NBA Playoffs this year after losing the play-in tournament. Seems like the time is ripe for Chef Curry to stir the international pot. Dame is similarly on the older side but also does not yet have an Olympic Gold. Mitchell is a young gun who’ll likely jump at the chance to play as long as he’s healthy and he was on the 2019 World Cup team. He could get booted if Kyrie decides to play but he’s already got a gold medal and the Nets look likely to play in the Finals.
- Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers / SDSU – 29 YO
- Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns / UK – 24 YO
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards / UF – 27 YO
- Zach LaVine, Chi Bulls / UCLA – 26 YO
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics / Duke – 23 YO
Again one clear elder statesman in Kawhi, but he has already stated that his plan is to play in the Olympics this year. And it is looking more and more likely that his Clippers will make an early exit from the playoffs so he will have time enough to rest and rehab prior to the start of the Olympics. The rest of this group has no Olympic experience either and likely will not make deep runs in the NBA playoffs (aside from perhaps Booker). The Celtic’s Jaylen Brown would have made the cut here but he’ll be rehabbing a torn ligament in his left wrist.
- Zion Williamson, NO Pelicans / Duke – 20 YO
- Andre Drummond, LA Lakers / UConn – 27 YO
- Myles Turner, Ind Pacers / Texas – 25 YO
- Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat / UK – 23 YO
Drummond has a chance to make the NBA Finals so he could opt out. However, he’s young enough that he could play both and he left the 2016 Olympic running amid some uncertainty after playing on the 2014 World Cup squad. Something tells me that he has not scratched the Olympic itch quite yet. Zion and Bam are no brainers here. Turner is a great defensive addition and was also on the 2019 World Cup team so it seems he’d be inclined to play.
Team USA Make-Up
The above roster would have an average age of 25.9, probably below any other USA Olympic basketball team since they started playing NBA players with the original Dream Team. (I’m not really sure, I didn’t bother to look up all of the ages). The team would also have no Olympic experience but they will have two of the more seasoned point guards alive in Steph and Dame. I don’t think that the rest really matters when the talent gap between them and the rest of the world is so large. This would be a fun squad for Coach Pop to mold with the mix of the youth and would be able to shoot the lights out of the gym. This could go down as the best shooting Olympic squad of all time.
I’m sure that the final Team USA roster will not look exactly like this. One or two of the old-guard like Harden, Durant, Butler, PG13, or Kyrie will probably opt into playing. One or two of the projected guys will probably opt out due to a deep playoff run, injury, recovery, etc. Guys like Steph and Dame who are older but have never played in the Olympics maybe just don’t want to?
Team USA Depth Chart
This would make the starting five (not that it really matters for Team USA) look something like this:
In which case the depth chart would be:
This is, of course, Team USA we’re talking about here. They could go big or small if they have too. For pure small-ball point barrage Beal could easily get the start at the two and push Zion or Bam to the bench depending on minutes. They can really do whatever they want. We will find out how this all shakes out by late July!