LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant headline US Olympic basketball team – The Washington Post

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant headline US Olympic basketball team – The Washington Post

USA Basketball’s latest “Dream Team” is loaded with star power, experience and a renewed emphasis on size and defense.

With the Paris Summer Olympics approaching, USA Basketball CEO Grant Hill announced the program’s roster of 12 players for the Games on Wednesday: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard.

“We have a very exciting, very talented and very experienced team,” Hill said. “We’re just grateful that so many wanted to be a part of this. We had a large pool of candidates. It was not easy, far from it. We are more than delighted to have put together this team of 12 people. We look forward to the journey and the task ahead, with the goal of bringing home Olympic gold.

The list includes many former gold medalists and no major surprises. James, Durant and Curry expressed interest in playing together in October, and Hill selected only two newcomers: Embiid, who chose to play for the United States rather than France or his native Cameroon, and Leonard , a two-time NBA Finals MVP who dealt with recurring offseason health issues during his peak.

USA Basketball took heavy inspiration from its Tokyo Olympics team, which won gold in 2021, and its most recent FIBA ​​World Cup team, which finished fourth in September. Durant, Tatum, Adebayo, Booker and Holiday played in Tokyo; Edwards and Haliburton stood out at the World Cup. James will compete for USA Basketball for the first time since winning his second Olympic gold medal in 2012, and Curry, a two-time FIBA ​​World Championship gold medalist, will try to win his first Olympic gold medal.

For Hill, who succeeded Jerry Colangelo as general manager after the Tokyo Olympics, the program’s disappointing World Cup performance was proof that it needed a bigger, more physical team to compete. adapt more effectively to the best international competitions. The U.S. men will face Serbia, which could be led by Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, in the opening game of the competition.

“The FIBA ​​game is a different game than the NBA game,” Hill said. “You want players whose games translate to that stage. Defense, experience, a collective understanding of how to win, it’s a headache. You want talented individuals and players who can blend in, adapt and play certain roles you need. Defense was certainly a priority. Having guys who can lock in, keep multiple sets within a possession, emotional maturity, and then just mix up personalities. …Rebounding is something we’ve struggled with [in the World Cup].”

Davis and Embiid, who is coming off knee surgery in February, give the team a much longer and more imposing front line than the one it sported at the World Cup. Holiday and Leonard, who missed the final eight games of the regular season with knee soreness, should provide strong perimeter defense to complement a solid scoring collection.

If Embiid, Leonard or another player is unable to play due to health concerns, Hill said the team has a “contingency plan at every position” which he declined to reveal . The program chose to announce its 12-player roster before the NBA playoffs so that decisions would not weigh on the players and the group could begin a lengthy team-building process as Paris approaches.

The 12-man team was selected from a pool of 41 candidates announced in January. Jimmy Butler, Paul George, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Chris Paul were among the notable candidates who did not make the final selection. Also not selected: Draymond Green (who was not in the initial player pool) and Kyrie Irving, both of whom have faced major suspensions in recent years.

Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jaren Jackson Jr. lead the list of rising stars who were ousted from the veteran-dominated team. Ja Morant, who is recovering from a season-ending shoulder injury, and Zion Williamson were not included in the initial player pool.

“Sometimes you can have a collection of the best, but it’s more important to have the best cut,” Hill said. “We’ve been very thoughtful and intentional about this.”

Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors will coach the Americans in Paris after leading the World Cup team last summer. Kerr indicated he would leave the position after the Olympics. His team in Paris will include Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and Gonzaga coach Mark Few. The Americans won Olympic gold under Mike Krzyzewski in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and under Gregg Popovich in 2021.

The United States is one of eight teams qualified for the 12-team field in the Olympic tournament, and the Americans are expected to be among the heavy favorites. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Serbia and South Sudan also secured places in Paris. The United States will be joined by Serbia, South Sudan and a qualifier to be determined in Group C of the tournament’s first round.


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