LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry all turned down invitations to play for Team USA in the Rio Olympics.
Though some NBA players have decided not to play, Team USA still has plenty of stars on its roster. The official roster was announced Monday, with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and OKC Thunder forward Kevin Durant headlining the team.
Irving is hot, coming off his first NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The point guard hit a game-winning shot in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to help the Cavs defeat the Golden State Warriors. During the Finals, Irving averaged 27.1 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting. He was a key piece for Cleveland, serving as a legitimate second scoring option behind James.
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Durant, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, will likely be Team USA’s main scoring option. Though Irving has the capability to be the team’s best player, Durant is one of the best scorers in the game. This season, he averaged 28.2 points per game, ranking third in the league behind Curry and James Harden.
Though Irving and Durant will be the team’s top scoring threats, Carmelo Anthony, a two-time gold medalist, will likely provide leadership. This will be Anthony’s fourth Olympics, as he has been a part of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams. The team’s average age is 26.5, and the 32-year-old Anthony will be the experienced elder statesman.
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Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will provide solid rim protection and post play. Though the modern basketball game is moving toward spreading defenses out by shooting 3s, Cousins will still be a force down low when the post is available.
Along with Cousins, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan can provide excellent wing play. They are all athletic, so back door cuts and pick-and-roll action will be staple moves for them in the team’s offense.
With L.A. Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, the team bolsters its already sky-high athleticism. And with two-way player Klay Thompson from Golden State, this team will be tough throughout.
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James and Curry are opting to take the summer off to rest and recover from the grind of going all the way to Game 7 in the Finals. That’s understandable; James has played in six straight Finals, and Curry suffered a knee injury during the post-season.