Wednesday, May 22, 2024

USA Basketball chooses Kawhi Leonard for the last Olympic roster spot

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Kawhi Leonard completes the 12-man roster of Team USA for the Paris Olympics (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

USA Basketball just rounded up its star-studded official roster for the upcoming Paris Olympics that will take place on July 26, 2024.

With only 11 NBA players named during the first day of their official press release, one spot was still up for grabs.

Hours after, that spot was rewarded to Kawhi Leonard, one of the best two-way players of the current NBA and a former champion with the Toronto Raptors.

It was then made official after USA Basketball gave Leonard his Olympic jersey through his Los Angeles Clippers head coach, Tyrone Lue.

Leonard will be joining Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton to complete Team USA’s 12-man pool in Paris.

This is the first time that the superstar small forward will be suiting up for Team USA in the Olympics. After years of battling several injuries that kept him off the playoffs for consecutive years, Leonard is finally having one of his healthiest NBA seasons and is aiming for his first-ever gold medal.

Despite missing his last few games of the regular season due to knee inflammation, reports already confirmed that he will be available to play for the Clippers in their first-round playoff series against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Currently, Leonard is averaging huge numbers in the NBA and tallied 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game.

According to Grant Hill, USA Basketball’s managing director, one of the focuses of this year’s Olympic roster is having a consistent defensive output against the best teams in the world.

“Defense was certainly an area where we needed to be better on and to improve upon, and we have guys that have that as a foundation,” said Hill.

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