U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Roster Set: Could Be Weakest Since 2004
In what may be the weakest roster in the NBA-eligible era since 2004, the United States declared its Olympic men's basketball team ready to invade Westeros today, with the 12 guys below representing the red white and blue. Noticeably absent: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, James Harden. Noticeably present: Harrison Barnes.
Barnes' main function here seems to be twofold: improving his free agent stock after a mediocre NBA Playoffs performance, and helping two Warriors teammates, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, gang up on Kevin Durant to try to convince him to sign with the Warriors.
Meet the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) June 27, 2016
So IMO this is the weakest USA men's roster since 2004, when Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion, Lamar Odom, Emeka Okafor, Amar'e Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade went 5-3 and could only manage the bronze medal. You may recall that the U.S. won gold in the FIBA Championships in 2003, but nine of the 12 players on that roster declined to go to the Olympics the following year -- among them Ray Allen and Jason Kidd.
Also absent from both rosters: Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. Nice patriotism, guys. Lyanna Mormont gives you: 0 stars.
This year Curry struggled with knee and shoulder injuries throughout the playoffs (you Cavs fans stay on your leashes -- it was evident to anyone with eyes that Curry was playing hurt). LeBron says he's "tired" (he averaged 5.9 points per game in the '04 Olympics), and Harden is just a contrarian -- he plays for himself. None of them are claiming Zika virus fears as the reason they're abstaining. But one never knows.
What's going to be interesting is watching how much the rest of the world has progressed. But it's hard to see the U.S. being challenged like it was in '04 -- even with its biggest stars absent. Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins and Thompson are there, along with DeAndre Jordan, Barnes, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, Draymond and Kyle Lowry, so the U.S. should be favored to win gold.
And now it's time for the requisite coaching B.S.:
“We have lightning-quick guards who can score as well as distribute the basketball,” Coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “We have great shooters and explosive scorers, we’re big and athletic, and I think we’ll really be able to defend.”
Carmelo Anthony becomes the first U.S. player selected to four Olympic teams, and is looking to be the first to win three gold medals.
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