To rule the Olympics, Team USA must summon the Avengers

Names attract attention, and a collection of names like this should. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant – that’s enough star power to gain national attention. Even a basketball ball.

That’s certainly enough firepower to put Dennis Schröder in his place.

To be clear and unambiguous, whenever the NBA sends its best American players to compete against the rest of the world, whether they are Hall of Fame-bound or All-NBA regulars, everything will be fine. The day is coming when this will not happen. But while the rest of the world has already done well, that day has not yet come. The best of America continues to dominate, and that’s why America has won the last four Olympic gold medals.

What is clear, however, is that the U.S. needs the best of everything, or at least some of the best, to survive the challenge that international basketball has become. Typically, the U.S. men’s basketball team doesn’t give its all to the FIBA ​​World Cup, which NBA stars treat more like a regular season with the Summer Olympics as a playoff. Even before this latest black eye on American hoops, the elites of the modern era considered Paris their platform. Stephen Curry, who has not yet played at the Summer Games due to injury. LeBron, who has been off the world stage for over a decade. And Durant, who loves the Olympic scene.

And this is Paris. What better place for one last mission together?

But something about failure on the international stage always motivates the best players. Players’ walk of shame always provokes Avengers-style collaboration. We saw it with the Dream Team. We saw this with the Redeem team. And now, with the United States finishing fourth in the 2023 FIBA ​​World Cup, NBA stars are uniting like Autobots who got the signal.

Jayson Tatum. Devin Booker. Damian Lillard. Kyrie Irving. De’Aaron Fox. This would be a legitimate case for the entire NBA.

But The Supreme Team’s real specialty brewing behind the scenes, what makes this potential collection unique from other superstar revenge tours, is the chemistry that already exists between them. This could be the finished, cohesive team the United States has ever produced in the NBA era.

This is important because America needs more than ever: team. Not just for 2024, but as an ethos moving forward.

Gone are the days of making your squad and being the best in the world. Team USA needs team — and plenty of talent — to win gold in Paris. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A huge disadvantage that America always has to overcome is knowing other nations after years of playing together. The steady growth of international competition over the last three decades means that Team USA can no longer overwhelm Team Kumbaya with athleticism. This has been true for some time. It takes an ever-increasing talent quotient to collectively defeat other countries that boast NBA talent and experience.

It’s not enough to have more talent. The USA needs a sensibly constructed squad. The USA needs a flexible playing style and prototypical roles. The U.S. needs enough camaraderie to know how to pressure each other, how to outplay each other and maximize their individual strengths, as well as the connection that will allow them to deal with difficult moments and crazy plays from their opponents.

The team America can take to Paris is not just a sudden assemblage of unknown names. This lineup has its own kumbaya to match his ridiculous talent level.

LeBron, Curry, Durant, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Irving have spent thousands of minutes on the court together. Against each other. Together.

Durant, Tatum, Green and Lillard won gold together Tokyo.

Booker and Durant will play together for the season.

But what’s even more important is how they play. Just look at the six who are reportedly involved – James, Curry, Durant, Davis, Tatum and Green – they have shooting, size, defensive acumen, floor generalship and players who can play well off the ball.

Of course they can create shots. However, the greater value in international competition is the ability to counter-attack zones, adapt to physicality and create attack on cold nights.

Add Booker, Fox and either Lillard or Irving, and the second unit has all three scoring tiers, varying in size, speed and craftiness. It is important to note that everyone is used to dealing with traps, fouls and even referees – which is essential in the international game.

Of the four guards being considered for the 2024 contingent – ​​Booker, Fox, Lillard and Irving – only three make sense. One of those spots should go to a big man or at least a strong defender. USA will need size. Booker and Fox believe they should be selected as players who are young enough to carry the torch moving forward. So either Lillard or Irving.



Why Team USA didn’t win the FIBA ​​World Cup wasn’t a total loss

America has several options for a backup big man. It might make sense to get a really big body. Brook Lopez and Andre Drummond come to mind. If they get too small, it should be someone who has a proven track record of hitting, bouncing off bigger players, and doing the dirty work. Like Bam Adebayo, who won a gold medal by being that guy in 2021. Or three-time NBA champion Kevon Looney, who has become one of the best dirty work centers in the NBA. Or Robert Williams, whose presence in paint can be more than useful.

It might be worth investing and giving that spot to Jaren Jackson Jr. He was the main hero of the fourth-place team. However, he would need experience and life in such a team would certainly be different. Here’s an intriguing name for now and the future: Evan Mobley. He’s a highly skilled 6-foot-4 player and a good defender and rebounder, although he could use some bulk.

Anthony Edwards deserves a spot on this team. Mikal Bridges also made a great case. They could benefit from playing and learning from international pros like Durant, LeBron and Green, on the short list of players with multiple NBA titles and multiple gold medals.

But I would be willing to put Bridges on the ice to see if Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler are interested. Bridges wasn’t the stopper America needed. The US could use an improvement.

The distinct way these stars play is what American basketball needs. Their example of versatility, their exceptional consistency and vast experience are a response to the power of the rest of the world over America. The flaw of the World Cup team, apart from its size, was the inability of the players to find other ways to be effective when their main method was not working. And the team’s defensive struggles are a direct indication of its declining cohesion. Sure they got along well. But defense requires more than that. They also didn’t have the luxury of time to develop the chemistry for it.

The home country lost to the pros after the United States lost three of its last four matches. Hoops’ reputation in the States needs to be avenged after defeats against Lithuania, Germany and Canada.

Notice the explosions in the background. Play dramatic music. Line up at stores with serious looks and shiny uniforms. Choose Zack Snyder’s style of filmmaking from super-fast to super-slow-motion. Feel the confidence of American basketball heroes.

USA Basketball needs a team. This sounds great.

(Photo of LeBron James and Stephen Curry: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

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