This past weekend concluded the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournament. USA finished in fourth place, losing to Germany in the semifinals and Canada in the third-place game. This is the second time in a row that USA did not medal. They finished seventh in 2019 after winning the tournament in 2010 and 2014.
To put it bluntly, the superstars of the NBA do not care about the FIBA tournament. The best player in 2019 was probably Kemba Walker (most of the younger guys on the team had not hit their primes yet) and in 2023 it was probably Anthony Edwards, who is a borderline top-20 player in the NBA today.
With this being said, a lot of people are saying that the world is finally catching up to the U.S. Respectfully, I think that is pure and utter nonsense. Though the NBA has grown a lot internationally, the United States has the best talent in the world and no country comes close. Though some might disagree, I think that if they had a USA vs. every other country in the entire world game, the USA would still win.
Though he has not made a public comment on this, it was reported that LeBron James wants to team up with Kevin Durant and Steph Curry for the 2024 Olympics to put together a powerhouse Olympic team for an “Olympic Last Dance.”
With this being said, I came up with what I want the team to be. For the most part, this list is based on pure rankings of American players, but there are some chemistry additions, as well.
Without further ado, here is who I want to suit up for the U.S. in 2024.
This is the biggest no-brainer on the list. Curry is probably the best American-born player. I did not know this before coming up with the team, but Curry has never played in the Olympics. The two-time MVP and four-time NBA Champion has very little (if anything) left to prove, but a gold medal would be extra icing on the cake.
Fun fact: Leonard has also never played for Team USA. This one is not as surprising given the fact that he is often dealing with injuries and rehabbing in the offseason. With this being said, when healthy, Leonard is debatably a top-five player and one of the four or five most accomplished players in the league. Just like Curry, he does not have a ton to gain from this, but seeing him team up with big names would be fun, to say the least.
Need I say more? This is the man who is probably going to spearhead this entire project. Though he is probably not a top-five player anymore, James is still just as fun to watch. He has played in three Olympic Games (2004, 2008, 2012) and has two gold medals. (Side note: the 2008 Redeem Team is probably the best team of my lifetime.) James probably would not play as many minutes as he has in the past, but you know he will be just as involved in leading the team.
People rightfully talk about how insane James’ longevity is. Though Durant’s is not as extreme, it is probably the most underrated part of his legacy. Durant finished second in MVP voting in 2010 and is still debatably a top-five player today. Sure, he is super injury-prone now, but when he is on the floor, Durant is still just as dominant. He played for Team USA in 2012, 2016, and 2021, and he was one of the best players on each of those teams. If he suits up in 2024, this will very likely continue.
Very similar to Durant, when healthy, Davis is one of the 10 best players in the game. The problem is that staying healthy has been a big ask throughout Davis’ career. With this being said, he is head and shoulders the best American-born big man in the league. Davis has only played in the Olympics once, and it was back in 2012 before he ever played a single minute in the NBA. Though it is not likely, seeing the duo of LeBron and Davis team up with guys like Steph and Durant would be must-see TV.
With all of the drama surrounding Dame and his trade request, this is probably the last thing he is thinking of this offseason. With this being said, once he is either traded or works things out with Portland and all of that is behind him, he should play for Team USA in 2024. Dame was on Team USA in 2021 and was probably one of the three best players on the team. As long as nothing big goes wrong, Lillard will likely look to run it back in 2024.
Booker is one of the more interesting players in the league. He is pretty widely rated. I have seen people rate him as high as the top eight or as low as outside the top 15. I think he is right in between and good enough to be a shoo-in for Team USA. He was part of the team in 2021 where he was very successful. He already has a gold medal with a good amount proven in the NBA, but one more medal certainly will not hurt.
Anyone who knows me knows that this was coming. The only reason I do not have him starting is out of respect for James and Durant. Still, I think that Tatum is the second-best American-born player in the league. Tatum was on the 2021 Olympic team and started a good amount of the games there. Tatum is debatably the most durable superstar in the league, so he should have no problem running it back again.
I would be relatively surprised if Butler decided to play for Team USA. He played in 2016 but has shown no indication that he wants to play again unless some of the other players convince him. Regardless, Butler deserves a spot on the roster. Though he is not as good as James, Durant, Tatum, or Leonard, he is still a top-15 lock and one of the 12 best American-born players.
Butler’s teammate is the second-best American-born big man and will almost definitely be offered a roster spot for Team USA in 2024. Adebayo is one of the best and most versatile defenders in the league. He started all games for Team USA in 2021, mainly because the only other center was JaVale McGee. Unless something big happens, I would be shocked if he did not suit up in 2024.
We already have the best players at each position, so let’s have some fun with the last two spots. I have criticized Irving multiple times for his inability to stay on the court and I think he lacks the intangibles. So why do I want Irving playing for Team USA? It’s simple: the guy is fun to watch. Let the first 10 guys on the team work together, but when it’s time to just get buckets? Put in the guy with a deep bag and the best handles of all-time so the world can watch greatness.
Despite falling apart in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Jaylen Brown is an All-NBA player and at the very least deserves consideration for Team USA. If there is one thing Brown knows how to do, it is playing a role. The reason the Celtics have been so successful the past couple of years is because he has embraced the Robin role to Tatum. Despite being labeled as “just a scorer,” he is a versatile defender and an underrated playmaker. But, as I said about Irving, I do not need my 11th- and 12th-best players to mesh well with the first 10 guys. Brown is a fantastic locker room presence which would be beneficial to Team USA.
Despite getting a good amount of flack for it, Steve Kerr was right. This isn’t 1992 anymore; the rest of the world is extremely talented. With this being said, the USA still has more dominant players than any nation and would dominate the entire world. I believe that these 12 players would do the best job representing our beautiful nation at the 2024 Summer Olympics.
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