Despite the tight window between the NBA Finals and the Olympics, Team USA basketball is stacked with talent.
Team USA is (almost) always a wrecking crew in the Olympics. Ever since the Dream Team in 1992, Team USA has been a force in international basketball once every four years.
Aside from an embarrassing bronze medal finish in 2004, the United States has dominated the Olympics, winning gold in the last three Summer Games. That should be no different in Tokyo this time around as Team USA brings a star-studded roster.
While other countries like Canada Basketball are scratching and clawing in an Olympics Qualifying Tournament, Team USA already has its spot in Tokyo. Let’s take a look at the roster, schedule, and some of the possible contenders Team USA might face this summer.
Team USA Roster & Schedule
Team USA's 12-man roster for the Tokyo Olympics:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2021
Due to the time constraints facing Team USA this year, they already have a 12-man roster for the Olympics. Of course, this is somewhat fluid considering the fact that three players on the roster are still playing in the playoffs.
Kevin Durant is the biggest star on this team and he’s a two-time gold medalist with Team USA. The superstar committed to the Olympics shortly after the Nets were bounced from the playoffs. His teammate, James Harden, also committed but was forced to withdraw due to a nagging hamstring injury.
This Olympics roster is unique because of the number of first-timers. Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Bam Adebayo, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Jerami Grant are all going to be playing in their first-ever Olympics for USA Basketball.
It’s fitting that Team USA is full of fresh faces. This follows the trend we are seeing in the playoffs where young stars are taking center stage.
Let’s take a look at the full schedule for USA Basketball this summer:
|Date||Pre-Olympics Traning/Exhibitions||Time (ET)|
|July 6-18||Training Camp at UNLV||—|
|Saturday, July 10||Exhibition game vs. Nigeria||8:00 PM|
|Monday, July 12||Exhibition game vs. Australia||8:00 PM|
|Tuesday, July 13||Exhibition game vs. Argentina||6:00 PM|
|Friday, July 16||Exhibition game vs. Australia||6:00 PM|
|Sunday, July 18||Exhibition game vs. Spain||9:00 PM|
|Date||Summer Olympics matchup (Saitama, Japan)||Time (ET)|
|Sunday, July 25||USA vs. France||8:00 AM|
|Wednesday, July 28||USA vs. Iran||12:40 PM|
|Saturday, July 31||USA vs. TBD||8:00 AM|
|Tuesday, Aug. 3||Men’s basketball quarterfinals||TBD|
|Thursday, Aug. 5||Men’s basketball semifinals||TBD|
|Friday, Aug. 6||Men’s basketball Gold Medal Game||TBD|
|Saturday, Aug. 7||Men’s basketball Bronze Medal Game||TBD|
No World Cup Sadness
If nothing else, Gregg Popovich will be motivated to avenge USA Basketball’s disappointing seventh-place finish at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. They brought a skeleton roster to that tournament, but it’s always surprising to see USA lose in international play.
There are a couple of holdovers on this Olympic roster from the World Cup who are looking for redemption. Jayson Tatum and Khris Middleton were key contributors on that team that last to France in the semifinals.
The good news for USA Basketball is that they take the Olympics a lot more seriously than the World Cup. That’s not typical for most countries, but Team USA’s connection to the Dream Team in 1992 means that an Olympic gold medal will always mean more to players than a World Cup win.
Let’s be clear, no one is going to beat Team USA in the Olympics this year, anyone betting on the Olympics can verify that. As far as other countries have come, this USA Basketball roster is stacked with talent at every position. No other team at the Olympics will field a team made up entirely of NBA players.
There are three groups of four teams apiece at this summer’s games. Right now, it’s USA, Iran, and France in Group A. The fourth spot will be occupied by the winner of an Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Canada is the favorite to make it, but Greece is another potential challenger out there.
In this group, France is the biggest threat to take out Team USA. Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Frank Ntilikina pulled off the upset at the FIBA World Cup, but it’s going to be difficult for a repeat performance at the Olympics.
Among the other groups, Australia, Argentina, and Spain are always dangerous, but those teams are starting to get up there in age. Meanwhile, Team USA is restocking its roster with a new generation of stars.
It would be an absolute failure on the part of Popovich and the players if they leave Tokyo with anything less than a gold medal.