Monday, July 22, 2024

Derrick White replaces Kawhi Leonard for Team USA: Why Celtics guard is ideal roster addition for 2024 Olympics | Sporting News

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A third player will trade in Celtic green for red, white and blue at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Celtics guard Derrick White has joined Team USA as a replacement for Kawhi Leonard, USA Basketball announced. White, 30, will join the national team less than a month after winning an NBA title and signing a lucrative contract extension with Boston.

This is not the first time that White will represent America on the international stage, but this time, he has an opportunity to play an even greater role in Team USA’s efforts.

Here is what makes White an ideal candidate to join this roster.

MORE: Why Kawhi Leonard is withdrawing from Team USA for the Olympics

Why Derrick White is replacing Kawhi Leonard

White is an ideal replacement as he is one of the most malleable players in the NBA.

A 6-4 combo guard, White can guard multiple positions on the wing at a high level, resulting in All-Defensive Team selections in the past two seasons. Offensively, he averaged 16.7 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 40.4 percent from deep during the Celtics’ title run in 2024.

As shown with Boston, White is the perfect type of connective player to play around the caliber of superstar talent present on the Team USA roster. He’ll be a menace defensively and will benefit from the playmaking abilities of Team USA’s stars on offense, most notably LeBron James and Jayson Tatum.

Opposing defenses will have tough decisions to make on the perimeter as half of Team USA’s 12-man roster shot at least 38.0 percent from 3-point range during the 2023-24 NBA season.

There is an argument to be made that Team USA would have better off replacing Leonard with a forward, but White’s appeal is clear.

Team USA’s 3-point shooters

2023-24 NBA regular season
Player 3PM/G 3P%
Stephen Curry 4.8 40.8%
Derrick White 2.7 39.6%
Kevin Durant 2.2 41.3%
LeBron James 2.1 41.0%
Jrue Holiday 2.0 42.9%
Joel Embiid 1.4 38.8%

MORE: Why Joel Embiid is playing for Team USA at the 2024 Olympics

Derrick White Team USA stats, history

In 2018, White played for Team USA’s World Cup qualifying team, averaging 9.5 points and 5.0 assists over two games. In 2019, White was named to the 12-man roster for Team USA at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

White appeared in eight of the team’s 10 games.

  • 15.5 minutes per game
  • 5.9 points per game
  • 1.3 rebounds per game
  • 2.5 assists per game
  • 1.3 steals per game
  • 46.3 percent field goal shooting
  • 16.7 percent 3-point shooting
  • 77.8 percent free throw shooting

After going a perfect 8-0 in group play, the 2019 squad lost the first two games of the knockout phase and finished seventh in the tournament. White, who was still a member of the Spurs at the time, played next to current Celtics teammate and 2024 USA teammate Jayson Tatum.

MORE: Jayson Tatum has clear message for his doubters after first NBA title

USA Olympic men’s basketball roster 2024

Name Team
Bam Adebayo Miami Heat
Devin Booker Phoenix Suns
Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors
Anthony Davis Los Angeles Lakers
Kevin Durant Phoenix Suns
Anthony Edwards Minnesota Timberwolves
Joel Embiid Philadelphia 76ers
Tyrese Haliburton Indiana Pacers
Jrue Holiday Boston Celtics
LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers
Jayson Tatum Boston Celtics
Derrick White Boston Celtics

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