USA Basketball is due for a new nickname – and another dominant run to an Olympic gold medal – next year.
In 1992, the Dream Team changed Olympic basketball forever. The Barcelona Olympics marked the first time the U.S. sent active, professional players to the Summer Games, and the country made it count. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined a group that featured 11 Basketball Hall of Famers. The Dream Team went on to bulldoze every opponent in its way, capping its run off with a 32-point win over Croatia in the gold medal game.
Sixteen years later, there was the Redeem Team. USA Basketball got embarrassed at the 2004 Olympics, and Kobe Bryant took it personally. With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony by his side, Bryant led the charge for another perfect run through the Olympics.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The 2024 Paris Olympics will mark 16 years since the Redeem Team’s triumph in Beijing. Based on the rumblings less than a year out from the Opening Ceremony, USA Basketball appears on the verge of assembling another squad filled with legendary talent.
James reportedly is not only interested in making an Olympic return in 2024 – he wants to bring some NBA superstars with him. The two-time gold medalist, who has not suited up at the Olympics since 2012, reportedly has reached out to Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Jayson Tatum about playing in Paris.
Team USA has won four straight Olympic gold medals dating back to the Redeem Team, but the squad is still looking for redemption in Paris. The U.S. failed to medal at the FIBA World Cup for the second straight time this summer, ending its run with back-to-back losses against Germany and Canada.
That team certainly wasn’t the best the U.S. had to offer, and the top players from around the NBA could form an unstoppable unit next year if they wanted to.
What would the ideal 12-man Team USA roster look like for 2024? Enter, the Supreme Team:
Starter: Steph Curry
Somehow, the NBA’s all-time leading 3-point shooter has never played for Team USA at the Olympics. Curry was not selected to the 2012 team, cited injuries in 2016 following his unanimous NBA MVP season and also passed on the opportunity to play in Tokyo in 2021. With Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr running the show for Team USA in 2024, it would be the perfect time for Curry to don the red, white and blue on the Olympic stage.
Starter: LeBron James
If James is serious about playing at the Olympics, no one will stop him from landing a starting spot. He has a chance to add a third gold medal and fourth Olympic medal overall (he won bronze in 2004).
Starter: Kevin Durant
Durant was Team USA’s leader in Tokyo two summers ago. The Phoenix Suns star was part of his third straight gold-winning squad and averaged a team-high 20.7 points per game to go along with 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Starter: Jayson Tatum
Tatum certainly doubles up with both James and Durant positionally, so he could find himself in more of a sixth or seventh man role in the actual Olympics. But after stepping up for Team USA in his first Olympics appearance and earning back-to-back first-team All-NBA nods with the Boston Celtics, Tatum’s place among the best American basketball players is undeniable.
Starter: Joel Embiid
Embiid could be the biggest wild card in the entire 2024 Olympics men’s basketball tournament. The reigning NBA MVP was born in Cameroon but also has citizenship for the top two medalists in the last Olympics: the U.S. and France. Should he opt to play for Team USA, he would easily become the starting center.
Reserve: Damian Lillard
Lillard would be another returning player from the Tokyo team. The Portland Trail Blazers star would also have a solid case as a second guard in the starting lineup alongside Curry.
Reserve: Devin Booker
Booker started for Team USA when it won gold in Tokyo, so he could also be in the mix with Tatum and Lillard for a starting spot. However, the Suns guard said he will play any part required of him.
Reserve: Bam Adebayo
Adebayo was the starting center for Team USA in Tokyo. Should Embiid choose to play for France or decline playing at the Olympics entirely, Adebayo would be the sensible starting center in 2024.
Reserve: Jimmy Butler
Team USA would be overjoyed if Jimmy Butler decided to make an Olympics return. He has a gold medal in his trophy case from 2016 and would bolster the Americans’ already ludicrous wing depth.
Reserve: Anthony Davis
Davis had an Olympic gold medal before he even made his NBA debut. The 2012 No. 1 overall draft pick was the last man off the bench for Team USA in London that year. With his Los Angeles Lakers running mate planning a return over a decade in the making, it would make sense for Davis to do the same.
Reserve: Draymond Green
Draymond Green could find himself in a role similar to the one he had in Rio two Olympics ago, where he played less than 10 minutes a game. With so much scoring prowess across the roster, Green could bring defense and facilitating off the bench in a pinch.
Reserve: Kawhi Leonard
If we’re trying to build the most unstoppable Team USA imaginable, Kawhi Leonard gets to be included. Leonard would be one of two players to make an Olympic debut with this team. The Los Angeles Clippers forward doesn’t have a strong history of going above and beyond to play additional games, but his defense and scoring ability still make him one of the best dozen American players when he’s on the floor.
Paul George: George overcame a gruesome injury with Team USA in 2014 to make the 2016 Olympic team. Like Leonard, he’s still one of the NBA’s premier wings when healthy.
Donovan Mitchell: Mitchell would supply more backcourt depth, but there are too many wings and bigs that beat him out for a spot here.
Jaylen Brown: Brown will be high on the list if Team USA is interested in adding a pure bucket-getter to its bench.
Klay Thompson: Curry, Green, Kerr and Thompson at the Olympics would be an awesome sight for Warriors fans. Unfortunately, Thompson gets squeezed out here simply based on a small but noticeable talent dropoff from his peak.
Anthony Edwards: If anyone from the 2023 FIBA World Cup did enough to deserve 2024 Olympic consideration, it was Edwards.