Basketball at The Olympics – The New Dream Team
As Kevin Durant held the ball at the top of the key the entire arena knew what was coming. Down by two points with just seconds left in a pivotal game seven, Durant went to work. A few dribbles, a spin, a step-back-three, and the crowd erupted.
A storybook ending in which Durant single-handedly willed his team to victory by scoring 48 points, including the game-winner, advancing the Brooklyn Nets into the Eastern Conference Final.
At least, that is how the story would have gone if it was not for Durant’s size 18 shoes.
Instead, an official video review showed that Durant’s mammoth shoes barely touched the line, changing the three-pointer to just a two, and overtime instead of a walk-off.
Milwaukee would go on to win the game 115-111, Brooklyn’s season was over, and the only consolation prize was the rumored report that Durant would now be available to play for the US Olympic Team that begins play next month.
Putting together an Olympic team, even with Kevin Durant, is no joke. With the international success of players like Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Luka Doncic (Slovenia), and Rudy Gobert (France) to name a few, it is no longer good enough to simply pick a few All-Stars and roll out a ball. Instead, Team USA now gathers 57 NBA players to commit early as a large pool and trims the roster down to 12 based on talent, need, and availability.
I have a few other ideas.
- Dream Team Three – Just handpick 12 players. Lebron (LAL) at the point guard, Steph Curry (GSW) at the two, Durant (BKN) at small forward, and Kawhi Leonard (LAC) at power forward. Add Anthony Davis (LAL) and Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) for size, Jimmy Butler (MIA) and Draymond Green (GSW) for defense, and sprinkle in Devon Booker (PHX), Chris Paul (PHO), Bradley Beal (WAS), and Zion Williamson (NOP) for some depth. Okay, maybe you can just roll out a ball.
- The Make-Up Class – What if Kyrie Irving (BKN) played in game seven against the Bucks? Where would the Golden State Warriors have finished if Klay Thompson (GSW) was not injured? Team USA should have a make-up class for those who missed the important assignments of the NBA season. Anthony Davis missed crucial games in the playoffs, James Harden (BKN) and Donovan Mitchell (UTA) were banged up most of the year, and Kawhi Leonard has knee issues. Add Jaylon Brown (BOS) who missed the playoffs, Michael Porter Jr. (DEN) who was dealing with back spasms, and throw in Chris Paul who missed game one due to COVID-19 protocols and you have a nice little do-over.
- The Youth Movement – Instead of a pool of 57 NBA players, how about a roster that has Ja Morant (MEM), Zion Williamson (NOP), Jason Tatum (BOS), Trae Young (ATL), and LaMelo Ball (CHA). This team may struggle a little in the 2021 Olympics, but with an average age around 21-years-old, they should be fine in the 2024, 2028, and 2032 games.
- The Phoenix Suns – The 2016-17 Golden State Warriors won the NBA Championship with a roster full of US born talent that included Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. As a matter of fact, the only two players off that squad that would not have been eligible to play in the Olympics were Zaza Pachulia and Anderson Varejao. Why not send the entire Phoenix Suns squad so they can run some set plays? Replace Deandre Ayton (Bahamas), Dario Saric (Croatia), and Abdel Nader (Egypt) with a few All-Stars, or better yet, assume dual citizenship is good enough to include those three and see what happens.
- The Hockey Team – Like hockey, a great strategy for forming the perfect Olympic squad would be based on three lines. The first line is full of scorers consisting of Steph Curry, Trae Young, Damian Lillard, Devon Booker, and Kyrie Irving. The second line is full of All-Defensive Team players like Jrue Holiday (MIL), PJ Tucker (MIL), Matisse Thybulle (PHI), Bam Adebayo (MIA), and Draymond Green. And like players on a line shift, the first group would be in every time USA had the ball, and the second five would be at the ready every time they were called upon to defend.
The third line? Any four players not winded…and Kevin Durant.
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