The medals had barely been hung on the necks of the German, Serbian and Canadian teams when news broke that the savior of Team USA was assembling an Avengers-style group of colleagues to defend American basketball at the upcoming Olympics to back up.
LeBron James is eager to play in Paris next summer and bring the NBA’s best American players with him to make up for the disappointment of a fourth-place finish at the FIBA World Cup, according to sources not authorized to speak publicly. told The Times.
The other names interested in participating in the 2024 Olympics are mentioned in Reports: Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green. More gold winners from the 2020 squad like Devin Booker and Bam Adebayo could add to the talent on the US roster.
After missing the last international competition (and in some cases the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics), why should they all necessarily play now? What does it say about the team that took part in the World Cup? And will that ultimately matter?
The appeal of these Olympic Games is obvious. Patriotism is one thing, but patriotism in one of the best cities in the world for an Olympic Games, which should attract tons of attention and provide tremendous marketing opportunities, is another. With a much more pleasant time change (Paris is six hours ahead of New York, nine hours ahead of Los Angeles) than Tokyo (which is 16 hours ahead of Los Angeles) and the assumption that the COVID-19 restrictions from Tokyo will no longer be in place A more “normal” Olympic experience is an easy sell to everyone – both consumers and athletes.
In James’ case, the Olympics would be an international farewell as he nears retirement. He’s sure to have a summer of good wine, winning basketball and global admiration ahead of him. And you can bet there were cameras rolling the entire trip, a ready-made documentary he could package and sell whenever he wanted.
Team USA officials have been privately strategizing a James pitch for months, and his recent signals (including an “eye” emoji on a post suggesting an all-star Team USA roster would be on the way). him) suggest it might not be that hard to sell, assuming he’s healthy.
And that’s not a guarantee. James finished that season with the effects of the torn tendon in his foot, with discomfort from the injury undoubtedly being an issue during the Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals.
For weeks, the version of Team USA that competed in the World Cup was quite the story. While a roster full of NBA players is hardly considered plucky underdogs, the roster has only had four All-Star appearances overall.
Austin Reaves, who went undrafted two seasons ago, averaged 13.8 points on 56.6% shooting and became the team’s second-leading scorer behind former No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards. However, the problems lay primarily on defense, where Team USA was regularly too small.
However, the NBA prefers centers who can stretch the floor and provide space. So it’s not like there are a lot of American-born bigs in the league ready to dominate the team. Rookie Walker Kessler was added to the roster in part for this reason.
While they still had more top-tier talent than anyone they played, they didn’t have the best players in the tournament. And even with James, Davis, Curry and Durant on board, that will likely still be true.
After Tony Parker finished fifth in NBA Most Valuable Player voting in 2012, the Americans finished in the top five of each of the next five MVP votes. But since the 2019 vote, Americans have finished in the top five overall just 10 times, with international players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic dominating.
Embiid, who holds French and U.S. citizenship, would be a coup for Team USA and could be the safest bet to solve Americans’ physical problems in international play. But in the long run, the lack of U.S. players at the top of the league’s top honors speaks to the problems Team USA will face in the future.
The best American players are either too old, too injured (Zion Williamson) or too unpredictable (Ja Morant) to be fully relied upon, compounding the problem that international competition seems to mean more to other nations .
A group of stars led by James will not solve the big problems. The game is becoming increasingly global and the best talent is coming from places outside the US. But the Americans can still assemble a team so full of talent that it can mitigate the other problems it faces.
They are no longer a lock, that has been true for some time, but one last hurray for a James-led group could give the US their best chance in Paris.