Sunday, July 14, 2024

Projected Starting Lineup for Team USA Features Four NBA MVPs

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LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.


Team USA members LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.

Few events at the upcoming Olympics in Paris will have more eyes on it than men’s basketball, with Team USA and its galaxy of basketball superstars at the forefront.

Few people who cover basketball have a better feel for how a super team like this might come together than The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, the author of the New York Times best-seller “The Book of Basketball” and co-creater of “30 for 30” on ESPN.

Simmons recently took a stab at projecting Team USA’s starting lineup on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” ahead of their opening game against Serbia on July 28.

Simmons’ projected starting lineup; Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.

Out of that group, only Edwards has yet to win NBA Most Valuable Player honors. James is a four-time MVP, Curry a two-time MVP and Durant and Embiid have each won the award once.

Team USA’s Golden History at Olympic Games

Since men’s basketball became an Olympic sport in 1936, Team USA has won the gold medal 16 times, although the U.S. boycotted the Olympics in 1980 with a team that would have featured future NBA players like Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguirre, Buck Williams, Ronaldo Blackman and Sam Bowie.

Team USA’s 1972 loss to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game is one of the most controversial finishes in sports history. The 1988 team won a bronze medal and led to the U.S. allowing pro basketball players to participate in the Olympics — which the rest of the world was already doing — beginning with the Dream Team in 1992.

The 2004 team, which was James’ first foray into Olympic competition, also won the bronze medal and led to a revamping of the process of selecting the Olympic team and the Redeem Team in 2008 featuring Kobe Bryant, James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony and was coached by former Duke head coach Mike Krzyewski.

The 2008 team defeated Spain and Hall of Fame center Pau Gasol, 118-107, for the gold medal.

What Country Could Upset Team USA in 2024?

Almost as a direct result of Team USA sending its NBA stars to the 1992 Olympics and every Olympics after that, basketball exploded on the international stage and we are seeing the results of that with a loaded field in the 2024 Olympics.

France’s team features San Antonio Spurs center and 2024 NBA Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama and Utah Jazz center and four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Serbia features Denver Nuggets center and three-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and Miami Heat power forward Nikola Jovic.

Greece has Milwaukee Bucks superstar and two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Even with all that talent, the country that will almost certainly pose the biggest threat to Team USA in 2024 will almost certainly be Canada. The Canadians have a team unlike any in the country’s history and features Nuggets guard and NBA champion Jamal Murray, Oklahoma City Thunder guard and two-time All-NBA selection Shai Gilgeous-Alexander along with more NBA talent like Andrew Wiggins, Luguentz Dort, Dillon Brooks, R.J. Barrett and Dwight Powell.

Tony Adame covers the NFL for, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame

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