The team heading overseas is incredibly talented and headlined by the Brooklyn Nets duo of Kevin Durant and James Harden, along with the sharpshooting phenom from Portland in Damian Lillard and Wizards superstar Bradley Beal. Additionally, the roster features championship experience in the Warriors’ Draymond Green and veteran Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Wednesday, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine announced his commitment to Team USA for the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Furthermore, the team is filled with several young stars. Both Devin Booker and Khris Middleton will join the team after completing their seasons as both are in the conference finals for the Suns and Bucks, respectively. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum will also be part of the roster, as well as Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat. The roster also features newcomers such as LaVine and Jrue Holiday. Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons will also make his Olympic debut.
Meanwhile, LaVine brings a lot to the table with his athleticism and ability to shoot the basketball. While Chicago finished the season with a 31-41 record this past season, LaVine was exceptional, averaging 27.4 points per game on 50.7 shooting from the floor and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Granted, the Bulls aren’t really thought of as a contender, as it’s been a while since Derrick Rose was in charge and before that, of course, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen ran the show, but LaVine has been a bright spot and deserves the opportunity to play.
There’s really no mistake here. With or without LaVine, given the history of Olympic basketball, the team will be expected to compete for and win the gold medal. Except for 2004 and 1988 as bronze medalists, 1972 with the silver medal, and their withdrawal in 1980, this group has always won the gold medal. Hence, there is a standard to live up to.
Though Mike Krzyzewski won’t be coaching this year, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will take over. As a result, this will be a team ladened with heavy expectations combined with tough love. Despite San Antonio not being near the dynasty status that it had between 1999 and 2019, it was still respectable and competitive.
Granted, there’s no LeBron James or Stephen Curry on the roster, but this is still a strong group, and LaVine is a fine choice to give the last spot to. There could have been other such as Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks Trae Young, who is lighting up the NBA postseason, and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, who has garnered headlines since his days in high school and at Duke.
Nevertheless, Zach LaVine takes the last spot, and the U.S. will roll with who they have at their disposal on their way to Tokyo, knowing very well what is expected of them. LaVine will be expected to contribute somehow, but he knows that there is enough talent around him, but that doesn’t mean taking it lightly.