Although the 2020-21 NBA season is approaching its end, there's still plenty of basketball left to be played this summer, particularly in Tokyo for the long-awaited 2021 Summer Olympics. Fans missed out on the event last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it all the more exciting. Headlining those Olympics is Team USA men's basketball. With a month until the Summer Olympics begin, this is where the team currently stands.
As always, Team USA is stacked. So it's no surprise that a country of over 328 million that's the center of the basketball universe. The pool of players to choose from is endless, even when superstars LeBron James and Steph Curry pass up a spot.
All 12 Americans have secured their spot on the team. Barring any opt-outs or injuries, the roster is set for Tokyo.
PG: Damian Lillard, POR
Among the eight players making their Olympic debut is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard's one of the most complete offensive players in the entire NBA. He can handle, pass, finish at the rim, and operate out of the pick-and-roll quickly. And above all else, Lillard shoots lights out from limitless range.
Most notably, he displayed this in a game five masterpiece against the Nuggets. Lillard scored 55 with clutch shot after clutch shot, proving to be one of the most dominant scorers of recent memory. He'll put that scoring to use as one of the team's primary offensive creators.
PG: Jrue Holiday, MIL
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday became the most recent player to accept an offer to play for Team USA, per Adrian Wojnarowski. But before turning his focus towards the Olympics, he has his eyes set on his first-ever NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Holiday's had some hiccups in the postseason, but it's clear what he brings to the table. He's a respected veteran regarded as the best guard defender in basketball by some of his peers. On a roster full of offensive superstars at guard, Holiday's perimeter defense is more than necessary.
SG: Devin Booker, PHX
After missing out on playoff basketball for his first five years, Suns guard Devin Booker has been on a tear this postseason. He's scoring 29 points per game on 61.6% true shooting while flashing improved playmaking skills in the pick-and-roll. Booker's also one of the better off-ball players on this team, an important trait to have alongside so many ball-dominant stars.
SG: Bradley Beal, WAS
Bradley Beal narrowly missed out on the NBA scoring title in 2021, averaging 31.3 points per game. It's the second straight time he's crossed that threshold, becoming the 11th player to do so consecutively. His 59.3% true shooting also ranked above average despite a suboptimal situation surrounding him in Washington. And while known for his scoring, he's also a capable playmaker with the ability to capitalize on the open looks that his scoring gravity creates.
SG: Zach LaVine, CHI
One of the newer members of Team USA, Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine adds even more scoring to the backcourt. He posted career highs in scoring average (27.4 points per game) and efficiency (63.4 true shooting percentage) in 2021, en route to his first all-star game. Along with his shot creation and outside shooting, LaVine adds an exciting flair to this team. A two-time dunk contest winner with a 46-inch vertical, LaVine can rise for countless high-flying dunks when given the runway. Fans will have even more of a reason to tune in to the Olympics with LaVine on the roster.
SF: Kevin Durant, BKN
Two years after a devastating achilles injury in 2019, Kevin Durant showed the world he's still a generational player. After teammates Kyrie Irving and James Harden suffered injuries, Durant fought resiliently but lost to a superior Bucks team. Nonetheless, his combined 129 points over the final three games reminded fans of his greatness. Naturally, all arrows point to the two-time Finals MVP as the primary scorer for the team.
SF: Jayson Tatum, BOS
Jayson Tatum continued his trajectory to superstardom this year, making strides as a decision-maker and playmaker. Despite being hindered by dysfunction around him and the lasting effects of COVID-19, Tatum put together another strong campaign in year four with career highs across the board. His 26.4 points per game rank fourth on the team, and he brings extra value as a solid defensive wing.
SF: Khris Middleton, MIL
Like Holiday, Middleton's still in the midst of a championship quest with the Bucks. However, when he's hot, the crafty 3-level scorer can hit shots at will from anywhere with hands in his face. His game six performance against Brooklyn exemplified it the best. While capable of handling primary offensive duties, his willingness to play without the ball in his hands projects him to be a secondary creator for the American offense.
SF: Jerami Grant, DET
After James Harden withdrew from Team USA due to injury, forward Jerami Grant replaced him for the final roster spot. Standing 6'8" with a 7'3" wingspan, Grant provides size and length to an otherwise smaller Team USA. He'll likely contribute the most on defense but also adds extra offense at the wing. Grant upped his scoring average over 10 points from 2019-20 to 2020-21 and is more than capable of playing a secondary offensive role, as he did in Denver and Oklahoma City.
PF: Draymond Green, GSW
His box score numbers (7.0/7/1/8.9) are underwhelming, but Draymond Green's reputation as a player who impacts the game beyond the stat sheet precedes itself. He won't score the ball much, but that doesn't matter on a team filled with capable bucket-getters. Instead, he'll do the dirty work, make extra passes, play top-tier defense, and lead by example with his unmatched intensity. So far, Green and former teammate Durant are the only returning members from the 2016 Gold Medal team.
PF: Kevin Love, CLE
It's easy to forget, but Kevin Love once averaged a monster 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds in 2013-14. Seven years later, those days are over. But still, Love's outside shooting at the power forward position adds value next to two bigs who rarely shoot beyond the 3-point line. He played just 25 games in 2020-21 and is likely fresher than many of his teammates who spent time in the NBA playoffs. At age 32, he's the squad's oldest member.
C: Bam Adebayo, MIA
Bam Adebayo had the chance to play for the Nigerian national team but chose to play for the country that raised him. In many ways, the 23-year old former all-star and two-time all-defensive member fits the mold of the ideal modern center. He lacks the interior dominance of the top centers of the past but makes up for it with a smooth handle, passing vision, defensive versatility, mobility, and athleticism. As the lone center on the roster so far, Adebayo's job is crucial.
The team's future
With the roster set for Tokyo, the American team is ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the basketball world.
Team USA will enter the Tokyo Olympics as the presumed favorite to win their fourth straight gold medal. Their journey starts on July 25 against France in a group stage game.