What could Team USA look like at the 2024 Olympics?

Although the 2023 basketball World Cup was an exciting affair that saw Germany take home the gold medal for the first time in the country’s history, this was merely an appetizer before the main international basketball competition.

What we’re talking about, of course, is the Summer Olympics, which take place in 2024 in Paris.

Today, we’re going to discuss what Team USA might look like at the 2024 Olympics. What guards, forwards and big men are going to represent USA Basketball in Paris 2024? Might we see some roster carryover from this year’s World Cup roster to the Olympic roster?

After yet another extremely disappointing showing for the Americans at a FIBA World Cup, it could be time for changes in roster management strategies. Let’s dive in below.

Stephen Curry (Guard)

stephen curry usa
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Team USA experience: U-19 World Championships (silver medal), 2010 and 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (gold medals)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is one of the most accomplished players to never win Olympic gold. He has yet to even represent Team USA in the Olympics, only suiting up for Team USA at the U-19 World Championship in 2007 and in both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, two gold medal tournaments for the Americans.

With Steve Kerr currently in the role of head coach for Team USA, that might increase Curry’s chances of suiting up for the Americans next summer at the Olympics. He definitely sounded interested in doing so when discussing the topic with veteran NBA scribe Marc Stein back in Jan. 2023:

Olympic gold is really the last thing missing from the résumé. What are the chances we see you in Paris in 2024? Stephen Curry: I’m more than excited about the opportunity to do it. Knowing that Coach Kerr is taking the lead and … I played on those two world championship teams and everybody who’s ever experienced both is never shy to mention how much different the Olympics is. They all say it’s not even close in terms of the vibe and the atmosphere and the buildup and the adrenaline and all that. I don’t know what the chances are, because you don’t know what’s going to happen, but I would love to have that experience at some point for sure.

Curry would obviously be a perfect fit for FIBA basketball thanks to his elite shooting and underrated playmaking skills, and with Kerr as the head coach, he’ll have that added comfort if he shows up. However, Curry will be 36 when next summer’s Olympics begin and if the Warriors were to make a long playoff run in 2023-24, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Curry opt for offseason rest over representing Team USA.

But it’s now or never for him as far as Olympic gold, which would further cement his already-pristine legacy.

Tyrese Haliburton (Guard)

tyrese haliburton usa
Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images

Team USA experience: U-19 World Championships (gold medal), 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup (fourth place)

One of the key contributors for Team USA at this past FIBA Basketball World Cup and with another season under his belt next year, Indiana Pacers lead guard Tyrese Haliburton could be invited back to play for the Americans at the Olympics next summer.

Of course, this roster spot could go to a variety of different options – many of whom are bigger stars with more impressive resumes than Haliburton – making it one of the more difficult spots on the team to project. It’s an important position, too, as the only other pure point guard we’re taking behind Curry, in this theoretical scenario.

So we’re going to assume Team USA opts for a bit of continuity here and gives the second point guard spot to Haliburton, as his pace, shooting ability and play-making did carry over well in FIBA play.

Additionally, he’s young enough that he won’t have an ego about potentially not playing that many minutes during any given game. USA Basketball could go with a bigger name at point guard but would those players be all right with low-minute secondary roles? Choosing players with a lack of ego will be a vital part of building an Olympic roster next summer for the Americans.

For what it’s worth, Haliburton already said joining Team USA again next summer would be a no-brainer for him.

Anthony Edwards (Guard)

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Team USA experience: 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup (fourth place)

He may not have as much FIBA experience as other players boast considering his first taste of representing Team USA came at this year’s World Cup, but that didn’t stop Anthony Edwards from having a good showing, earning All-Tournament Team honors.

Edwards led Team USA in scoring at the World Cup while ranking second on the team in Global Rating (18th overall), displaying great shot-making ability at the event and his usual otherworldly athleticism. He ultimately couldn’t save the Americans from another embarrassing World Cup finish but did his best to keep Team USA in games with his scoring when offense was so important, considering the Americans forgot how to defend once they got to the knockout rounds.

Regardless of the finish for the team, Edwards is a lock to suit up for USA Basketball at the 2024 Olympics if he wants the honor.

Devin Booker (Guard)

devin booker usa
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Team USA experience: 2020 Olympics (gold medal)

With one gold medal already on his resume from the most recent Olympics, it’s unclear how motivated Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker will be to don the red, white and blue again at next year’s Summer Games, especially with Edwards already playing a similar role but at a higher level (in FIBA, that is).

To his credit, Booker played an important part in the Americans’ gold-medal run back in 2021 in Tokyo, but his numbers – 9.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 20.6 minutes – weren’t quite as gaudy as Edwards’ were in this past World Cup. Of course, Booker was playing on a much more loaded roster than Edwards did (and he actually won gold), making it more difficult for the Suns star to put up big scoring numbers.

Based solely on talent, Booker remains arguably the best 2-guard in the NBA today even with Edwards nipping at his heels, and if he were to want a spot at next summer’s Olympics, he would undoubtedly get one.

Austin Reaves (Guard)

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

Team USA experience: 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup (fourth place)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves may not bring the star power of other NBA guards but that may work to his advantage since Team USA will not be lacking in that department.

Reaves has already built some goodwill with Team USA after devoting his summer to World Cup duty (which many other players shun) and could be a steady bench option for the team at next year’s Olympics.

Plus, Reaves showed out at the World Cup despite the Americans’ disappointing showing overall, ranking as the 21st-best player and third-best American player at the event, according to our Global Rating metric. He did get targeted a lot on defense but his offense – he averaged 13.8 points and shot 50.0 percent from three – was vital to Team USA at least getting to the third-place game.

Add in the facts that the coaches trust him in a FIBA setting now and that he’s a low-maintenance guy who’s used to excelling while playing off of bigger stars and Reaves starts to look like a great option to go to the Olympics as a bench option.

Other options at guard

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The Americans boast a massive wealth of talent at the guard position, which means outstanding players could be squeezed out, players like Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young, who said in Oct. 2022 that he was open to representing Team USA at the 2023 World Cup (he was not invited). Young then said he would like to play for the Americans in next summer’s Olympics back in August.

We’ll see if that comes to pass; it might depend on what other guards accept or decline invites to suit up for Team USA, though according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Young’s lack of defense hurt his case when he was with the Select Team back in 2019. 

Young could be a candidate to take that backup point guard spot from Haliburton, though.

Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox is another such player, though there was talk back in 2019 that he had really hurt his case to ever play for Team USA at the Olympics for the way he handled declining an invite to play at the 2019 World Cup:

U.S.A. Basketball officials were stunned Saturday morning to learn that De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings had chosen to remove his name from consideration for the final 12-man roster mere hours before the team’s flight to Australia for three more exhibition games and a handful of practices.

USA Basketball even responded to rumors about Fox and his future with the program:

A USA Basketball spokesman responded Saturday to comments made on ESPN suggesting Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox would not be allowed to represent Team USA in the future because he withdrew from consideration for this summer’s FIBA World Cup team. “Given De’Aaron was added into consideration for the World Cup team after originally being part of the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, USA Basketball understands De’Aaron’s decision,” Miller told The Bee.

Future Hall of Famer Damian Lillard would make things complicated if he shows a great willingness to play for Team USA, but he’s already won a gold medal at the Olympics (which happened back in Tokyo 2020) and he’ll be 34 by the time the next Summer Games come around, so his focus will likely be on winning an NBA championship over more international hardware. Plus, with Curry on the team, would Lillard even want to go to the Olympics if he’s coming off the bench? We’ll see. If Lillard does want to play for Team USA again, then he clearly gets the spot taken by either Haliburton or Reaves on our roster.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday provides defensive toughness that Team USA can use in FIBA play but he’s getting up there in age while Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant may be the top point guard in the game by next year, but he doesn’t have much of a history with Team USA and USA Basketball is probably looking for another type of player, not necessarily a one-on-one point guard with inconsistent outside shooting. Plus, the whole ego thing we talked about earlier.

A starter on the most recent Team USA team, Jalen Brunson is another option but his World Cup showing was not great – his scoring didn’t offset his complete lack of defense, and he’s not as good of a playmaker as some of the Americans’ other options – so we assume the red, white and blue will look elsewhere at lead guard next time.

And that’s just at point guard. At shooting guard, the Americans could also consider Donovan Mitchell, who last played for Team USA at the 2019 World Cup, which was an even bigger disaster than the 2023 one was for the Americans.

Might he be a better pick than Reaves? Maybe, but there’s only one ball and Mitchell, Booker and Edwards are all rightfully going to think they’re going to deserve their shot attempts, so it might be smarter for the Americans to just take two of those three and give the third spot to more of a role player like Reaves.

That’s all to say, Team USA will have loads of options at the guard spot for the 2024 Olympics and are so loaded at the position that multiple All-Stars will be left off the roster.

Kevin Durant (Forward)

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Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA experience: 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup (gold medal, tournament MVP), 2012 Olympics (gold medal), 2016 Olympics (gold medal), 2020 Olympics (gold medal)

Arguably the greatest Team USA player of all time, Phoenix Suns star swingman Kevin Durant is the program’s all-time leading scorer in both total points (435 points) and scoring average (19.8 points) and is one of just four male players to have suited up in three or more Olympics, with four total gold medals (three Olympics plus one World Cup) to his credit already.

Might he go for No. 5 next summer at the 2024 Olympics?

Although Durant will be 34 by then with one major injury he has already had to recover from, the former league MVP clearly just loves to hoop and could be enticed by the idea of becoming the first player to win four Olympic gold medals in his career. A potential reunion with Kerr at next summer’s Games could also make this an interesting proposition for Durant.

Regardless, the 13-time All-Star has already proven to be a monster in FIBA play thanks to his pristine outside shooting touch and ability to score off the dribble coupled with the competition’s shorter three-point line.

Durant giving it one more go with Team USA would be a whole lot of fun, and might be needed for the Americans to bring home Olympic gold again considering how the team looked at the World Cup.

Jayson Tatum (Forward)

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Network

Team USA experience: 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship (gold medal), 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championship (gold medal), 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup (seventh place), 2020 Olympics (gold medal)

Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has a ton of Team USA experience already, suiting up in two recent major international tournaments, the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, the latter of which was far more of a success for the Americans than the former.

Tatum was Team USA’s second-leading scorer at the most recent Olympics, putting up 15.2 points and 3.3 rebounds on 49.3 percent shooting over six games, helping guide the Americans to a bounce-back gold-medal showing after the embarrassment that was the 2019 World Cup.

Tatum might not be a complete lock to join the team, however, as he already has an Olympic gold medal on his resume, and he’ll have played a lot of basketball by the time next summer rolls around, as Boston has consistently made deep playoff runs with Tatum at the helm.

But he does seem like the type who loves to play basketball and his skillful style of play isn’t too tough on the body, so perhaps he does decide to go for another summer-gold-medal run with Team USA.

Jaylen Brown (Forward)

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Team USA experience: FIBA Americas U-18 Championship (gold medal), 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup (seventh place)

A member of the disastrous 2019 World Cup American team, Celtics star Jaylen Brown was not invited back for the following Olympic Games in 2021, in which the Americans bounced back to earn gold, even though his club teammate Tatum was.

A lot has changed since then, however, primarily with regard to Brown as a player, who just made 2nd Team All-NBA and is now a two-time All-Star.

Something Team USA was clearly lacking at the most recent World Cup was elite defense on the wing, something Brown would provide in spades. Look, even considering how much better the rest of the world has gotten in basketball, this can’t happen to an American team in international competition:

And this can happen even less, with all due respect to a player who just had a fantastic tournament after a rough NBA season:

Team USA badly needed defensive toughness at the World Cup, making Brown a fantastic candidate to join the team next summer as one of the forwards. Brown’s much-improved shooting would make him a two-way threat, too, so his role would look far different than it did at the 2019 World Cup.

We think this would be a perfect fit for Team USA.

Mikal Bridges (Forward)

mikal bridges usa

Team USA experience: 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup (fourth place)

A late-bloomer as far as becoming a borderline NBA star, Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges didn’t reach the USA Senior Team level until the 2023 World Cup, in which he played a pivotal role for the Americans thanks to his outside shooting, midrange scoring and versatile defensive prowess.

Bridges wound up finishing second on the team in scoring at 13.6 points while shooting 55.6 percent from three, ranking 16th in the tournament in Global Rating but No. 1 on the American squad, over Edwards.

Bridges’ two-way abilities and willingness to take a smaller role on offense during games in which bigger stars had it going made him a great fit for Team USA, and it’s that lack of ego and defensive ability that would make him a member of the 2024 Olympic squad, an honor that a lot of top-level forwards will be vying for.

After the fourth-place showing at the World Cup for Team USA, Bridges said that he would never say no to playing for Team USA and after how well he played in the tournament, it seems like a no-brainer for him to be invited back on the team next year.

Other options at forward

paul george usa
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GOAT candidate LeBron James teased at the possibility of helping return the Americans to international basketball glory at the Olympics next summer but that was probably just social-media teasing more than anything, as James will be 39 by then with more miles on his body than pretty much any other player in basketball history. So even if this would be cool to see, we just don’t think it’s that likely right now.

Other forward options at the 2024 Olympics are USA basketball veterans could be Paul George and Khris Middleton.

George last played for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics, helping the team win gold thanks to his defense and tough shot-making. And Middleton played for the Americans at the 2020 Olympics, likewise winning gold for his country.

However, with both players getting up there in age, neither is a surefire lock to make the team – if they even want to. Both could rightfully opt for offseason rest instead. But who knows? Maybe they get a call and get talked into it if players like Durant or Tatum don’t want to participate.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero could also be an option at forward but he didn’t have a great World Cup (not totally his fault, as he was asked to play center at times), and Team USA has loads of more proven options at forward – even in FIBA play – than Banchero, so he could miss out on the Olympics barring a lot of other players saying no.

Joel Embiid (Center)

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA experience: None

A citizen of the United States and France after having been born in Cameroon, what goes down next summer with regard to reigning NBA league MVP Joel Embiid will be fascinating to watch unfold.

Will he represent the Americans, who have been quietly recruiting him for some time now? Team USA shot-caller Grant Hill spoke to Stein about that very topic, who said that Embiid knows of the Americans’ desire for him to represent the red, white and blue at next summer’s Games:

Marc Stein: What are the chances from your seat that Joel Embiid would choose to represent the United States at the next Olympics rather than France? Grant Hill: Joel Embiid is an incredible talent and he has options. And I guess that’s a good thing. I’ll just say this: I’ve had some discussions with him, and he knows our desire to have him a part of our program. So we’ll see sort of where that goes. But we’ll certainly, as we get through this World Cup and start to sort of plan for next summer, we’ll continue with those conversations, and hopefully by then, I’ll have some numbers and percentages to give you in terms of where the possibility stands. Marc Stein: We can say there’s still a chance. Grant Hill: Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely.

Or will he play for France, an international basketball power that had a very disappointing showing at this year’s World Cup, failing to get out of the 32-team group stage? Prior to the World Cup, French national team general manager Boris Diaw basically said that France isn’t going to be recruiting anyone, preferring players who want to play for France:

Are you going to be more aggressive in your Joel Embiid pursuit? French national team general manager Boris Diaw: I’m not aggressive person per se (laughs). I don’t think it’s a pursuit. It’s about people who want to come. Some people come or don’t come to the national team for different reasons. He’s a special case for his own reasons. I don’t think there’s a way to be aggressive in our part.

French basketball legend Tony Parker also showed some caution when discussing the potential of Embiid joining the program for the Olympics, saying:

They are going to have big choices to make. If you bring back big players like Joel Embiid, and Victor (Wembanyama), it has to be complementary with the rest, because it could mean the departure of certain cornerstones, which can make headlines. We have to improve the team, we need changes, but it’s not going to be easy.”

If Embiid even does want to play at the Olympic Games next summer, Team USA might actually need him more than the French do, considering France has the surefire services of Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama locked in, two other top-level big men. Embiid might even be more welcome to play for the Americans, who seem to be more aggressive in their recruiting efforts to land his services.

It is somewhat interesting that even Team USA is succumbing to recruiting naturalized players for their international basketball competitions, a topic that has caused a firestorm recently, particularly after Suns guard Eric Gordon, who played for Team USA at the 2010 World Cup, suited up for the Bahamas this summer in Olympic qualifying competition and knocked Argentina out of contention. Argentine basketball legend Andres Nocioni was not a huge fan of that, for what it’s worth.

Then again, it is Embiid. What country – besides France, apparently –  wouldn’t want someone as talented as the reigning league MVP suiting up for them at the Olympics? That’s especially true for an American team quite light in the frontcourt. After all, with how bad Team USA looked at center in the World Cup tournament, Americans now have a major selling point in a potential Embiid recruitment.

Bam Adebayo (Center)

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Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Team USA experience: 2020 Olympics (gold medal)

Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo did not have a smooth start to his National Team career with the Americans, famously being cut by Team USA in 2019 ahead of the upcoming FIBA World Cup to make room for… Mason Plumlee. The Americans would go on to finish seventh in that World Cup, by the way.

Luckily for the Americans, Adebayo and then-Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich would get past that and the two-time All-Star center would suit up for the red, white and blue at the 2020 Olympics where he helped the team win gold.

Adebayo would be an easy fit with the team once again thanks to his defensive prowess and his lack of ego, as Adebayo would likely be all right with coming off the bench (if Embiid does say yes to Team USA), nor would he complain about lack of touches. His rebounding and defensive versatility would be major game-changers for an American squad so lacking in both departments at the most recent World Cup.

Chet Holmgren (Center)

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Team USA experience: FIBA Under-19 World Cup (gold medal)

As a third center, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chet Holmgren could be an intriguing option, as he has some of the versatility at center the Americans love – he’s got a ball-handle and can pass the basketball – and has FIBA experience from his team with the U-19s.

He likely wouldn’t play much – not if Embiid and Adebayo both go for Team USA – but Holmgren’s shot-blocking and shooting could help the team if he were asked to play spot minutes here or there.

Like Anthony Davis at the 2012 Olympics, Holmgren could give Team USA great resistance in practice and be a well-liked young member of the team.

Other options at center

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Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Other options at center for Team USA are headlined by Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, who would be a no-brainer addition to the team if he wanted to play at the Olympics next summer. But given his injury history and the fact he hasn’t played for Team USA since 2014 – when he helped the team follow up a gold-medal showing at the 2012 Olympics with another gold medal at the 2014 World Cup – this one doesn’t seem all that likely.

Then again, Team USA might go hard after Davis and really force him to decline after how bad the team looked in the frontcourt at the World Cup. And if Embiid says no or chooses to play for France? Then the recruitment for Davis to suit up for the 2024 Olympics will hit a fever pitch and make the possibility a bit more realistic.

Team USA could also ask Jaren Jackson to give it another go but he had a pretty bad showing at the World Cup, anchoring arguably the worst American defense in international competition ever – and definitely the worst Team USA defense with NBA players on the team. He also shot 28.6 percent from three in the tournament, so he might only be an option if the Embiid recruitment fails or if Adebayo says no thank you.

Team USA could ask Jazz big man Walker Kessler to join the team again as a break-in-case-of-emergency option, or in case there’s an injury. Kessler is a solid rebounder and elite shot-blocker and brings the toughness required for FIBA play. 

Warriors center Kevon Looney would also make sense because of the Kerr connection. Nets big man Nic Claxton would, too, as his rim protection and pick-and-roll finishing could help Team USA. But Team USA appears to favor versatility in its frontcourt options (the Americans only took two true centers to the 2020 Olympics: Adebayo and JaVale McGee), so those guys might only get the call if a lot of other players decline.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype