Recent losses at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, including back-to-back losses in the semifinals and bronze medal game to Germany and Canada, have not put the USA Basketball in proper light going into the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The expectation of the player pool to choose from for the Olympics is usually far superior to that for the World Cup, and star players typically see Olympic gold as worth playing through their offseason but not the World Cup.
USA Basketball needs to fix the problems of this year’s World Cup team, particularly in the frontcourt where things were dire.
The prospect for American big men is pretty thin, and a couple of stars turning down the team could lead to some scrambling.
The good news for Team USA is that it appears that won’t be a concern for the 2024 Olympics.
LeBron James is heading up a recruiting effort to get the top American stars together, as he looks to have one last ride on Team USA.
Two-time Olympic champion and four-time NBA champion James has been recruiting fellow NBA stars for a US squad that seeks a fifth gold medal in a row next year in France.
Curry, a four-time NBA champion guard with the Golden State Warriors, has expressed a desire to play on the Olympic squad guided by Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
James, a 38-year-old forward, led the USA to Olympic gold in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London but has not played since.
James has spoken to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, and they are all prepared to commit as well.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Dallas’ Kyrie Irving also have serious interest in committing, league sources said.
One name not on that list that you would expect to be at the top of Team USA’s Wishlist given how this year’s effort went is Bam Adebayo, who anchored the defense on that Tokyo gold medal squad, as well as the continued pursuit of Joel Embiid, who has a choice to make between playing for Team USA or France.
If they have Davis, Green, and Adebayo or Embiid, they’d unquestionably have fixed their big man concerns from the World Cup and surrounded by a who’s who of superstars in the backcourt and on the wing, they’d be even heavier favorites than usual.
It is far easier to be excited about playing for Team USA in September when you’re starting to miss being on the court than it is in June and early July when you’re fresh off of the playoffs.
All of those players listed have designs on a deep postseason run, and most of them (aside from Tatum, Fox, and Booker) are in their mid-30s.
The question is how many of that group are healthy enough to commit to a summer of extra basketball in Paris, but it’s very good news for USA hoops that the nation’s top stars are interested in playing in the Olympics.
Two-time NBA champion Durant, a Phoenix Suns forward who turns 35 later this month, helped US Olympic gold-medal efforts in London as well as 2016 in Rio and in 2021 in Tokyo.
Curry has never played for the US Olympic squad but helped American clubs win the 2010 and 2014 World Cup crowns, their only such titles since 1994.
Others James has recruited for the 2024 US Olympic team, include his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.
Phoenix’s Devin Booker, a three-time NBA All-Star, and 38-year-old Chris Paul of Golden State, a 2008 and 2012 gold medalist, are also among those interested in the Paris Olympics.