Wizards

Should Beal start for Team USA in Tokyo?

Wizards
Bradley Beal picks up a lose ball in the playoffs against the 76ers

The NBA's have made their commitments to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and the Team USA roster has taken shape. 

With that, it's close to that time to start imagining how this team overflowing with star power will be utilized on the court by head coach Gregg Popovich. 

More importantly, will Bradley Beal, the first Wizards player to represent the franchise on Team USA at the Olympics, start on such a loaded squad? The answer to that question is complicated, to say the least. 

Team USA roster as of June 22, 2021

Guards: Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday

Wings: Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine Khris Middleton, Jerami Grant

Bigs: Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Kevin Love

Lock starters: Durant, Lillard

These two are probably guaranteed to be in the starting five pretty much every game they're healthy. They're the two veterans on the team with the best NBA resumes, so it's reasonable to just pencil Lillard in at point guard and Durant anywhere else depending on the matchup. 

That could leave Beal competing with roughly three other players for three spots in the starting lineup 

On the bubble: Beal, Tatum, Adebayo, Booker

It's hard to know what Popovich is thinking with his center position, but if Team USA is in a matchup where it has to match its opponent's size down low, Adebayo would be the easy choice to play the five assuming nobody is added later that's better than him. 

If that's the case, the final two spots could go to two of the league's best scorers. Beal could get the nod over Tatum and Booker because he's the older, more experienced player. Tatum could get it because he played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup in 2019, and Booker could get it if the Suns go on to win the title and his status raises substantially over the next month-plus. 

 

What could open things up even more is if Popovich goes with Durant at center. That way, Adebayo comes off the bench and the U.S. plays small ball with a ton of shooting, length and skill. That's a way all three of Beal, Booker and Tatum could get into the starting five and create a lineup full of bucket-getters. 

Lineup predictions

Based on the current roster, there are two lineups that make the most sense for Popovich to deploy. One opts for size with Adebayo at center, and the other features Durant at the five as discussed earlier. 

Lineup No. 1

Lillard-Beal-Tatum-Durant-Adebayo

Lineup No. 2

Lillard-Booker-Beal-Tatum-Durant

Time will tell what Popovich wants to do, but he certainly has a lot of options that should yield him a gold medal. And even if Beal doesn't start, he deserves to be one of the first players off the bench.