USA Basketball unveiled its official 12-man roster for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, featuring six Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup gold medalists, and several newcomers to the Olympic setting.
Equally as intriguing as the players named to the squad, are the ones who have declined to be on the team in order to rest or recover from injuries, including MVP Stephen Curry, and stars Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and LeBron James.
Despite those personnel losses, the U.S. squad remains extremely talented, and will be a heavy favorite to win the gold in Rio.
“I think I can speak for the entire coaching staff and say we’re extremely excited about the team we will field for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro,” said Jerry Colangelo, who has served as managing director of the USA Men’s National Team since 2005. “I love our depth, which is another indication of the depth of talent our national team program is blessed with. We’ve got a great mix of talent, scorers, past gold medal winners and outstanding youth.”
Selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, which is seeking a third consecutive Olympic title, were: Carmelo Anthony (NY Knicks); Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors); Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); DeAndre Jordan (LA Clippers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).
“Looking at this team, our overall balance is what strikes me," said USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We have lightning-quick guards who can score as well as distribute the basketball. We have great shooters and explosive scorers, we’re big and athletic, and I think we’ll really be able to defend.”
Once again, the Colangelo-Krzyzewski formula for roster construction will emphasize versatile players with significant perimeter skills, as the team has numerous athletes at the 2 and 3 who possess a variety of skills and can play multiple positions.
In a bit of a surprise, the team only selected two point guards -- Lowry and Irving. Perhaps that decision could negatively affect the team down the line if one of them becomes injured or gets into foul trouble.
In the "feel-good" category, Paul George, who many thought might not play professionally again after suffering a gruesome broken leg in a USA Basketball intra-squad game, made the team after successfully rehabbing his injury and proving he belongs among the game's best.
The team will have two true centers in Jordan and Cousins, with Green also on hand to play the 5 in a pinch, or if the team elects to play a small lineup. Coach K has also used Durant and Anthony at the 4 in the past.
With his selection to the 2016 Olympic Team, three-time Olympic medalist Anthony becomes the first United States male basketball player selected to four Olympic teams.
Durant, who collected MVP honors in leading the USA to gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and finished as the U.S. team’s leading scorer at the 2012 London Olympics by averaging a U.S. Olympic record 19.5 points a game, was named to his second Olympic team.
The U.S. Olympic Men’ Basketball Team was approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors and is pending final approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
“I’m anxious to get on the court, and along with my great coaching staff, get to work,” said Krzyzewski, who by serving as head coach of his third Olympic squad is now tied with coaching legend Henry Iba for the most U.S. Olympic basketball head coaching assignments. “Since 2006 and including the last two Olympics, our players have represented themselves, the game and our country in an exemplary manner. I know this team will continue that standard."
The U.S. roster features the return of two members from the 2012 gold medalist U.S. Olympic Team (Anthony and Durant) and five players who have been members of USA World Cup gold medalist teams; Cousins (2014), DeRozan (2014), Durant (2010), Irving (2014) and Thompson (2014).
The average age of the 12 U.S. players will be 26.8 years at the conclusion of the Olympics (Aug. 21, 2016).
Included among the named 2016 U.S. Olympians were 2015-16 All-NBA first team selection Jordan; second team choices Cousins, Durant and Green; and third team picks George, Lowry and Thompson. Additionally, Jordan and Green collected 2015-16 NBA All-Defensive first team honors, while Butler and George were second team selections.
Nine players -- Anthony, Butler, Cousins, DeRozan, Durant, George, Green, Lowry and Thompson -- were named as 2016 NBA All-Stars, while Irving, who was named MVP of the 2014 World Cup after helping lead the Americans to gold, recently helped Cleveland capture the 2016 NBA championship.
The 2016 USA coaching staff is led by Duke University Hall of Fame mentor Krzyzewski, who since being named in 2005 head mentor of the USA National Team program has compiled a spectacular 75-1 record and led the USA to 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medals and 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cup titles. He will be assisted by Syracuse University Hall of Fame mentor Jim Boeheim, Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, and Monty Williams.
The USA National Team will train July 18-21 in Las Vegas, Nev. The Americans’ Las Vegas training concludes July 22 (6:00 p.m. PDT) with the USA Basketball Showcase presented By Verizon that features the USA facing Argentina at the T-Mobile Arena.
The U.S. will play two exhibition games versus 2015 FIBA Asia zone champ China, the first at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 5 p.m. (PDT) on July 24 and the second at 7 p.m. (PDT) on July 26 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Continuing its exhibition tour in Chicago, the USA will play on July 29 at 8 p.m. (CDT) at the United Center versus 2015 FIBA Americas gold medalist Venezuela and will conclude the USA Basketball Showcase facing 2015 FIBA Africa zone champion Nigeria on Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. (CDT) in Houston at the Toyota Center.
The U.S. men have collected a medal in all 17 Olympics in which they have competed, including 14 gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals. The American men own an impressive 130-5 (.963 winning percentage) all-time record in Olympic action, and since NBA players began representing the United States in 1992, the USA is 45-3 in six Olympics, capturing five gold medals and one bronze medal.
Since the formation of USA Basketball’s national team program in 2006, USA National Teams have compiled a spectacular 75-1 record and claimed top honors in five of six FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions. Currently, USA national teams enjoy a 63-game win streak (45 straight wins in FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions and 18 consecutive wins in exhibition games). The streaks dates back to the bronze medal game (Sept. 2, 2006) of the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
The USA also currently enjoys a 17-game Olympic win streak that dates back to the bronze medal game of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Since first fielding a USA Basketball team of legendary NBA stars in 1992, USA Basketball National Teams comprised of NBA players have claimed gold medals in 14 of 16 major international basketball competitions, while compiling an impressive 126-7 overall record (.947 winning percentage) in those competitions and a record of 46-1 (.979 winning percentage) in exhibition games.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services