Friday, July 12, 2024

Ranking Team USA Olympics men’s basketball roster, who’s the best player?

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Team USA
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

While breaking down the Team USA roster, I was leaning toward tabbing Anthony Edwards as the best player on the squad.

The deal was clinched Monday when Edwards himself said “I’m still the No. 1 option. Y’all might look at it differently, but I don’t.” Then he added that “they’ve got to fit in to play around me.”

“They” includes LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant.

A little brash, all kinds of cockiness and full-on self-promotion, but the 22-year-old Edwards is the sure top dog of the squad that will make a run at winning the gold medal in Paris.

Related: NBA MVP race 2024-25: Will the NBA have a new MVP winner?

Team USA men’s basketball rankings puts Anthony Edwards on top

NBA: Playoffs-Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The first of five exhibitions is Wednesday against Canada. Team USA is looking to win its fifth straight gold with this roster:

1. Anthony Edwards — He turned the Minnesota Timberwolves from a perennial doormat to a Western Conference finalist. That’s some accomplishment. Edwards is an intense competitor, and the two-time All-Star who averaged 25.9 points last season is ready to seize the throne.

2. Jayson Tatum — Fresh off his first NBA title with the Boston Celtics, Tatum now resides on the top floor of NBA royalty. Tatum is a supreme team-first player, which is needed on a team full of superstars. He averaged 15.2 points for the 2021 gold-medal team in Tokyo.

3. Joel Embiid — He’s playing for the U.S. for the first time after getting his citizenship in 2022. The lone concern with Embiid is the health of his left knee. It caused him to miss ample time in the regular season and hobble throughout the postseason. This won’t be the 2022-23 MVP version but he’s one of the best big men in the world.

4. Stephen Curry — Here’s your chance to win a bar bet: Curry is an Olympics rookie. Yep, first-timer. He’s looking to add his first gold medal to his hundreds of achievements. Probably also hoping to end his pregame shooting ritual by sinking a 3-pointer from the Eiffel Tower.

5. LeBron James — James is playing in the Olympics for the first time since 2012. He has two gold medals and one bronze during his Olympic ventures. James will be focused on keeping everyone involved and not trying to take over as the star.

6. Devin Booker — He is one of five holdovers from the 2021 gold medal squad. Booker is a great fit due to his unselfishness. He’s willing to pass the ball and set up others. He averaged 9.3 points in six games in the 2021 Olympics.

7. Kevin Durant — His Olympic history says he should be ranked higher, but his current calf ailment can’t be ignored. Those day-to-day calf injuries often turn into missing three to four weeks. Durant is looking to become the first four-time gold medalist in Olympics men’s basketball history (currently tied with Carmelo Anthony). He also holds the U.S. record of 435 career points.

8. Anthony Davis — Back for the first time since the 2012 team won gold in London. Davis saw an average of 7.4 minutes of action back then and will certainly have a bigger role this time. Having Davis and Embiid on the same floor at the same time will be a headache for opponents.

9. Bam Adebayo — A valuable player content with focusing on defense and rebounding. He averaged 19.3 minutes in the Tokyo Games and figures to fall around that same range. Important to have a tough guy on the team.

10. Jrue Holiday — Team USA’s third-leading scorer in Tokyo at 11.8 points per game. Another player who is team-first and excels on defense. A loaded roster when he’s No. 10.

11. Tyrese Haliburton — A newcomer to Team USA after his spectacular season for the Indiana Pacers. He’ll play a bench role in Paris. Part of his value is due to his ability to play both guard spots at a high level.

9. Derrick White — While would-be first-time Olympian Kawhi Leonard ranked ninth, we had to shuffle these once he bowed out. White isn’t a star player by any means, but he’s shown more than capable of being a team player who offers an all-out effort on both sides of the floor.

Mike Sullivan – Field Level Media

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