This year’s USA Basketball team hasn’t been especially successful to date. They have faced an amusing series of drawings and lost in a scrimmage to a Jeff Van Gundy-coached mishmash of fringe NBA players.
It would still be astonishing if they fall short, given the star power remaining on the team and the depth of starting-level NBA players. But the team is noticeably weak. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics almost a year away, USA Basketball will hope some superstars commit to playing.
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Here’s an interesting theoretical for next year, If every eligible American basketball player is healthy and willing to play in Tokyo 2020.
So, let’s make an Olympic 2020 version of the Dream Team. There is one crucial difference between now and 1992, Some of the league’s best players now aren’t from the United States, so we have no Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, or Joel Embiid to choose from, among other players. I’m still confident this team would beat the ‘92 team handly because that’s the way things go.
U.S. Team Rosters Listed
Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving. I’m carrying three-point guards because I couldn’t bring myself to leave any of these guys off. Steph will start for this team, and both Lillard and Kyrie will get minutes off the bench because a Curry-Harden backcourt is weak defensively.
Walker and Russell Westbrook are the two notable snubs here, but I don’t feel too bad about leaving them off because it’s clear that Curry, Lillard, and Irving are the class of the position. Maybe Trae Young will break out with an All-NBA season and throw a wrench into this discussion.
James Harden, Klay Thompson. It is far from a guarantee that Thompson will make an appearance in Tokyo 2020. He may want to avoid putting too much strain on his torn ACL after a possible late-season return to the Warriors, and he already has a gold medal in his trophy case.
But in an ideal world, Klay is here because he is the perfect shooter and low-key personality to have around on a team like this. Harden can also shoot, obviously, and is probably the best scorer in the world now that Kevin Durant is rehabbing a long-term injury. There is no way that Harden is not the starting shooting guard on this 2020 team.
If I had to replace one of these two, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, Devin Booker, Middleton, CJ McCollum, and Mitchell would be in the conversation.
LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. This is a fun and versatile group. If we wanted, we could play these guys all over the place, even all together at the same time. Imagine facing a team with all three of LeBron, Kawhi, and George. You’re not scoring, and you’re not going to have enough defenders to keep up with them.
The starting lineup will have to be configured so that LeBron and Kawhi can both start. But as with the original Dream Team, the starting lineup doesn’t matter too much. They’re just fun thought exercises.
Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green. An important caveat: I’m going to want AD to play center a good bit because we already have 11 players and thus can only afford one more. Davis at the 5 unlocks a number of combinations that include as well as one or two of the above trio. Draymond can play the five too, in smaller lineups, so we have some nice versatility.
I imagine Draymond as the Charles Barkley of this team: an undersized, outgoing power forward who commands attention. Draymond will score less than Sir Charles but make a huge impact on the defensive end.
Among the forwards, Jimmy Butler was the toughest omission. He was close and would’ve made it as another forward if we didn’t have three-point guards that I didn’t want to leave off. I could have included Al Horford and Blake Griffin, too, and you never know if Zion Williamson forces his way here.
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