It’s official: Durant, Lillard headline Team USA roster for Tokyo Olympics
There are no surprises or changes from what was reported last week, but now it is official:
Team USA is STACKED heading into the Tokyo Olympics. USA Basketball announced the official 12-man roster heading into training camp, and it is loaded with talent (the kind that did not travel to the World Cup in 2019):
• Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
• Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
• Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns),
• Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
• Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons)
• Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
• Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)
• Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
• Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
• Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
• Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
• Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of the USA Men’s National Team, talked about the formation of this roster in a press conference. Here are some notes from his press conference.
• Colangelo acknowledged that the team could have just nine active players from this roster through training camp and the exhibition games — maybe even the first game in Tokyo (against France) — because Middleton, Holiday, and Booker all could be participating in the NBA Finals. If the Finals go to a Game 7, that game is scheduled for July 22, the day before the Olympic opening ceremonies.
Colangelo said arrangements are being made to get the players from the Finals to Tokyo on a private jet after the series ends — “they can sleep on the plane” — and all three are fully committed to lay in the Olympics regardless.
• The most eyebrow-raising addition to this roster was Kevin Love, who has battled injuries and played just 25 games for the Cavaliers this season, and hasn’t played at an All-Star level for a few seasons now. Colangelo said Love’s international experience earned him the roster spot, plus Love’s rebounding, passing, and outside shooting fit the international game well. Colangelo said the Knicks’ Julius Randle was “right there” in consideration for that roster spot.
• Colangelo said Chris Paul testing positive for the coronavirus, combined with the Suns’ deep playoff run, kept him from joining the team.
• Among colleges, UCLA has the most players on this roster with three (LaVine, Holiday, and Love). Kentucky has two with Booker and Adebayo.
• Colangelo said Tatum’s enthusiasm helped win him a roster spot: “I think he’s very important to this team. He was one of the early players who reached out to me, I mean months ago, to express his commitment and his desire to participate on the Olympic Team.”
• Colangelo on Beal being included on the team: “I always had a lot of interest in Bradley Beal, and he is a classic case of a guy who has gotten better and better each year.”
• Colangelo on why Holiday made the roster: “Great guy, terrific defender… and I think he’s a contributor, he’ll do whatever is asked of him. He’s that kind of player.”
• Colangelo on his call to let LaVine know he made the roster: “He almost jumped through the phone he was so excited about the opportunity. And I love that.”
• Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff have some work to do to pick a starting five. \ Durant is a lock for one spot, and it makes sense to have Adebayo’s defense and rebounding at the starting center spot. But with the backcourt, Popovich could go all offensive firepower — Lillard and Beal — or use a more defensive-minded lineup with Holiday in one of those slots.
The Olympics start July 23 in Tokyo and can be watched on the NBC family of networks and streamed on Peacock and NBCOlympics.com.