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Previewing the Team USA Basketball Path to Olympics 2021 Gold

Yesterday, the Men’s Team USA Basketball team was approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors. The roster is pending final approval by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Team USA consists of 12 NBA stars, led by Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Damian Lillard. Gregg Popovich will try to coach the team to their fourth consecutive gold medal at the summer Olympics 2021 in Tokyo. The rest of the coaching staff have quite impressive resumes as well. Two-time national champion Jay Wright will also be on the sidelines, along with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

Let’s take a look at the full twelve-man Team USA Basketball roster.

Team USA Basketball Roster

Player (Age)NBA Team
Kevin Durant (32)Brooklyn Nets
Bam Adebayo (23)Miami Heat
Bradley Beal (28)Washington Wizards
Devin Booker (24)Phoenix Suns
Damian Lillard (30)Portland Trail Blazers
Draymond Green (31)Golden State Warriors
Khris Middleton (29)Milwaukee Bucks
Jrue Holiday (31)Milwaukee Bucks
Zach LaVine (26)Chicago Bulls
Jayson Tatum (23)Boston Celtics
Kevin Love (32)Cleveland Cavaliers
Jerami Grant (27)Detroit Pistons
Team USA in Tokyo 2020

This will be the third-oldest Olympic team in Men’s Team USA Basketball history. The average age of the roster is 28.2, so it’s fair to say Olympics 2021 might be the last time we see some players don the red, white and blue. Overall, this is a great roster on paper and should have no trouble getting going.

One addition to the team that was criticized by NBA analyst Jalen Rose was Kevin Love. Rose had said previously that Love, the only white player on the roster, was on the roster because of “tokenism.” Since then, Rose has walked back his comments, but still does not think Love should have been on the roster. Many agree, due to his numbers dropping dramatically. He shot 40% from the field while only averaging a career-low 12.2 points per game this past season. Deandre Ayton would have been a better choice.

Team USA Basketball roster olympics 2021
Credit: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Group Play

It’s pretty tough to judge the competition the Americans will be playing. In Rio 2016, the Stars & Stripes easily cake-walked to a gold medal, winning by an average margin of 22.5 points. For the Olympics 2021 games, USA is in Group A with Iran, France and a future qualifier from FIBA. The Americans open up the games playing France on Sunday, July 25th. Rudy Gobert headlines a French team that also has Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Frank Ntilikina and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. While the French will be the best team USA plays in group play, they should easily walk out of group play with three victories.

Path to Gold

Assuming Team USA Basketball wins all three of their group play games, they will enter the quarterfinals, which take place on Tuesday, August 3rd. The United States will not know what team they will be playing until August 2nd, when the drawing takes place for the quarter-final matchups. However, we do know most of the teams who have already qualified, so let’s take a look at the possible competition Team USA will have to play in the knockout rounds.

Spain: Spain is currently the second-ranked team in the FIBA world rankings, behind the United States. Their final roster has not been announced yet. However, we know that the Gasol brothers both made the preliminary list, along with Ricky Rubio. Some other names to watch in the Spain squad are Rudy Fernandez and Usman Garuba. The latter has played for Real Madrid (basketball) in Spain and will likely be a lottery pick in July’s NBA Draft.

Australia: Well, there was a time when the United States and Australia were on comparable levels in terms of talent. However, its 2021 now and that’s not good for the Australians. Before his utter meltdown in the Playoffs, Ben Simmons was pegged as the floor general for the Australians. He withdrew from the tournament, and is focusing on his shooting, hopefully. But honestly, Australia is very good on the National Level. They just aren’t Team USA Basketball good. Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Aaron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova are familiar NBA names that will be taking part in Tokyo.

Greece: Greece might be the most interesting team heading into the Olympics this summer. However, Greece hasn’t qualified yet. They will be playing Canada in a FIBA qualifying tournament. However, the man trying to get Greece to the games is a very well-known coach in the United States. Former Louisville basketball coach, Rick Pitino, will be the man in charge for the Greek National Team. Unfortunately for Greece, qualifying will be much harder than the Olympics for them, simply because their best player is still playing in the NBA playoffs (Giannis).

Biggest Threat: Our Neighbors Up North?

For about a decade now, Canada has been sending top-level talent to the NBA. Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andrew Wiggins and R.J. Barrett are all Canadian-born players. However, only two of them will be on the roster, if Canada qualifies. Team Canada will be taking part in a FIBA qualifying tournament this week. Nick Nurse will try and get the Canadians to Tokyo. If they want to get there, it’s going to have to be on the backs of R.J. Barrett and Andrew Wiggins.

Team USA Basketball Are Heavy Favorites

Heading into the tournament, the United States are the clear favorites to take home gold. The Americans opened as -360 to win gold, and it has gotten even more popular, going off at -375 today. The easy bet is to take the Americans, but if you feel like a risk taker, Greece or Canada are good options. Yes, both of them still have to qualify, but if they do, they could be dangerous.

If the Greeks qualify, Giannis will hopefully be joining them in Tokyo, making them a tough out. As for the Canadians, they have a lot of raw talent. Barrett and Wiggins are two guys who will wow you with athleticism. They can also score in bunches. The line on Greece is +2500, while the Canadians are much higher, at +7500.

All in all, this should be an easy gold medal for the Americans. We don’t need another disaster like 2004.

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