Of course, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and several other stars are not participating in this summer’s Rio Olympics. Yet, as evidenced by recent bouts versus Serbia and Australia, the U.S. might not be as far ahead of the pack as we (you know, the royal we) thought.
Nevertheless, bookies aren’t tweaking the lines, and as great as international competition is, it’s hard to envision entering an Olympics where the U.S. isn’t favored to win gold in basketball.
With no disrespect to the rest of the world (nor any belief that the United States will actually stop sending its best guys), here’s what my 25-U Team USA would look like for Tokyo 2020. For sake of discussion, only current NBA players (including rookies) were considered.
Zach LaVine, Devin Booker, Justice Winslow, Bobby Portis, and Myles Turner
The A-team is fire-and-ice, a galvanizing guard duo and a fear-inducing frontcourt trio. There’s no pure point, but this lineup offers exceptional size, speed, shooting range, and versatility.
D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Stanley Johnson, Jabari Parker, and Aaron Gordon
The B-team brings L.A.’s young backcourt, an undaunted defensive-minded wing, a small-ball 4 who allegedly put the Bucks in Buckets, and Air Gordon. Pairing Russell and Parker might force a heavy burden onto Ingram, Johnson, and Gordon on D, but I like this group enough to throw them in the blender.
Jahlil Okafor, Jaylen Brown and Tyler Ulis
There’s no telling what any of these guys (or most of the players in this piece, honestly) will be four years from now. However, low-post scoring, heady, pass-first playmaking are both undeniable needs on this theoretical team, and you can never have too many athletic wings. I know that 12 men is the limit, but I figured I’d throw a Sixer, a Celtic, and a leprechaun in there for good measure, plus I figured maybe if the U.S. is showing mercy by restricting itself to 25-and-under, the world will allow them to carry one extra player.