Zach LaVine added to finalist pool for US Olympic men's basketball team

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Rob Schaefer
·3 min read
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LaVine added to finalist pool for 2021 US Olympic team originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Thursday morning, USA Basketball announced its 57-player finalist pool for the 2021 U.S. men's basketball roster for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

Bulls guard Zach LaVine made the cut.

While LaVine has participated in Team USA training camps in the past, he's never played an international game for the team. And the field is stacked, with representatives from 24 different NBA teams listed:

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"Glad I got invited," LaVine said. "You've got to take that as an accomplishment. I did that when I was younger, I was on the invite team that played against the top guys. Now to go in there with the pool players to have a chance to go over to the Olympics is a big honor, and obviously I'm going to go out there and try to play for my country."

LaVine was one of 15 fresh additions to an already-existing 42-player field, a product of the unpredictability of the current sports climate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible," USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. "These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that."

And also, a nod to his stellar play this season, in which he's posted career-best averages of 28.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists with 52.5/43.5/85.7 shooting splits.

"You watch him play, he's worked hard defensively, he's continued to try to get better and improve in that area. I think his decision-making and how he's playing on offense, he's continuing to improve and get better there," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "The All-Star game, what you're talking about with the Olympics, the fact that he's being recognized for the work he's put in and what he's done I think is a great testament to him and how he's grown and continued to get better as a player."

Later this year, the field will be pared down to a 12-man roster for the Olympics, which are currently slated to start July 23, one day after the last day the 2021 NBA Playoffs can end. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will head the team, with Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, former Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova head coach Jay Wright serving as assistants.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a wide-ranging press conference over All-Star weekend that the league still anticipates the Olympics happening as scheduled in late July.

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