Who will USA Basketball send to Paris Olympics? Here's a potential 12-man roster

Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle

USA Basketball will be bringing some stacked rosters to Paris this summer.

It needs to. The rest of the world is catching up with us in basketball talent, and those nations have more cohesive teams that play better as a unit (at least with the men's teams). Team USA needs to have overwhelming talent and become cohesive enough to win, as happened in Tokyo when the team started slow but finished atop the medal stand.

On Tuesday, USA Basketball released the 41-man player pool from which the men's team will be chosen (one day earlier, the women’s player pool was released as well). It reads like a who's who of the best of the NBA — a dozen players who have won Olympic gold before, five who have won gold at the FIBA World Championships, and more All-Stars and All-NBA names than we have time to list.

A lot of top players — LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and more — said they are interested. Are all those players going to play? No. Injuries and deep playoff runs will keep some home, but the draw of the Olympics in Paris is going to bring out the big names. LeBron James summed it up nicely on Lakers media day last October.

"We'll see what happens but from the players that we have here that I can think of off the top of my head that could fill that roster up, I don't think it would be too much of a physical toll," LeBron said. "I wouldn't have to do much. Rebound a little bit, pass a little bit, defend, block some shots. We'll see what happens.”

Who makes the team?

Here is a preliminary 12-man roster out of the player pool, using guys who said they wanted to go and some logical additions. There are four guards, five wings and three bigs, with some top alternates for each.


Stephen Curry
Devin Booker
Jrue Holiday
Tyrese Haliburton

Top subs: Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, De'Aaron
Fox, Trae Young (Kerr could go defensive with Derrick White instead, especially if Holiday does not want to go).

If Lillard wants to go it will be very tough for USA basketball to say no, but that means a tough cut such as Haliburton (who stood out at the World Cup last summer). This team would thrive with any combination of those guards but it needs some quality perimeter defense so one of Holiday or White are a must). Curry and Booker have expressed interest in going and are too good not to bring along.


Kevin Durant
Jayson Tatum
LeBron James
Anthony Edwards
Jalen Brown

Top subs: Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Mikal Bridges, Paolo Banchero, Scottie Barnes

Leonard has played more this season than any in recent years and he brings in on both ends of the court, if he wants to go Team USA till take him and someone such as Brown or Edwards get bumped. Durant and LeBron have said they are interested in going and if they want to nobody is telling them to stay home. Like with the guards, any combo of this group will work, but it could use some young athleticism like Edwards or Barnes.


Joel Embiid
Bam Adebayo
Anthony Davis

Top subs: Bobby Portis, Chet Holmgren, Jarrett Allen

Embiid chose playing for the USA over France, so you can bet on him being there if he's healthy. This is a position the USA has lacked depth, they could use those top three to go. Both Davis and Adebayo provide the kind of athleticism and defense team USA needs in the paint. If Embiid cannot play look for USA Basketball to find another big body like Allen to try and match Nikola Jokic and the physical bigs other teams are bringing to Paris.