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Paris Olympics: Options for Team USA’s Final Roster Spot

Olympics Rings beside USA flag ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics

With the Paris Olympics beginning on Jul. 26, Team USA has revealed its choices for 11 of the 12 roster spots, per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski:

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid; Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton; Minnesota Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards; Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo; Suns guard Devin Booker; Celtics guard Jrue Holiday; and Lakers hybrid big Anthony Davis.

The final roster spot is up in the air, but keep in mind that Team USA is looking to put the best possible roster on the floor after a fourth-place finish in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The U.S. and NBA are still seen as the premier basketball country and league. Nonetheless, there’s now enough international talent for the U.S. men’s basketball team to take these competitions seriously. To that point, with all due respect to Austin Reaves and Cam Johnson, there’s no way that they’re supposed to be on a roster that represents the best players in the United States.

Analyzing Potential Option’s for Team USA’s Final Roster Spot

Looking at the players that were left off of Team USA’s initial roster, several intriguing options come to mind for the final spot.

Kawhi Leonard

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is without a doubt the top U.S. player not listed. A two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and six-time All-Star, Leonard is also the most accomplished player not on the roster.

In 2023-24, Leonard averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game. A gifted technical scorer, Leonard shot 52.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3. It’s his second consecutive season shooting above 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3.

Leonard would be the best two-way forward on the Team USA roster. However, he’s been particularly concerned with his physical health for several seasons. Even if offered a roster spot, he may turn it down in order to keep his mileage down.

Alternates: Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Jaylen Brown

Kyrie Irving

One has to wonder whether Kyrie Irving’s controversial stances on myriad topics unrelated to basketball have anything to do with why he wasn’t listed, especially after expressing his desire to play for Team USA. After all, Irving will be on a world stage representing the country. Yet, regardless of Irving’s beliefs, he’s as thoughtful and caring as he is free-spirited.

Irving’s also an NBA champion responsible for one of the most memorable shots in Finals history.

When comparing his accomplishments to other active point guards, only James Harden and Russell Westbrook —former league MVPs —can argue that they’ve accomplished more. However, Harden’s been a malcontent when he doesn’t get his way on the court. Westbrook is past his physical prime, a problem for a player that relies heavily on their athleticism.

Furthermore, Irving has the best chance of picking up Curry’s scoring slack in the event of injury or underperformance. Damian Lillard is more similar stylistically but he’s streaky, shooting below 43 percent in two of the last three seasons. In 2023-24, Irving averaged 25.6 points and 5.2 assists per game on 49.1-41.1-90.5 shooting splits.

Alternates: Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Jalen Brunson

Chet Holmgren

In international competition, frontcourt size matters more than it has in recent years. To that point, though Embiid, Adebayo and Davis are on the roster, they could use additional big man depth. This is particularly true when considering Embiid and Davis’ injury histories.

Enter Oklahoma City Thunder center Chet Holmgren. Talented enough to represent Team USA but young enough not to be too bothered if he’s listed behind any of the aforementioned trio on the depth chart.

A pivot that’s on the slimmer side at 195 pounds, Holmgren may play power forward in certain lineups. However, he’s tougher than his frame suggests. At 7-foot-1, he’s also long enough to alter quite a few shots, averaging 2.3 blocks per game as a rookie.

Alternates: Draymond Green, Zion Williamson, Myles Turner


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