Reports started to float earlier this week that Team USA might get the A-Team together for next summer’s Paris Olympics, and now Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is now making his intentions known.
His Tuesday evening tweet comes in response to Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma tweeting about how USA Basketball needs “stars who know how to fit roles.” Booker, often a man of few words, had just three:
USA is on a bit of a gold rush when it comes to the Olympics, winning gold in four straight as well as seven of the last eight. Booker was one of the bigger reasons why they were able to win gold in Tokyo, and he showed then that he is willing to take that backseat Kuzma alluded to.
Joining the team late because of an especially late playoff run thanks to COVID, Booker played in six games for USA in 2021. He averaged 9.3 points (42.2% FG, 33.3% 3P, 92.9% FT), 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. According to Synergy, Booker took more catch-and-shoot jumpers (15) than off-dribble jumpers (12) over the six games.
For reference, he’s never shot more off the catch than off-dribble. Last season, the gap was 697-149 in favor of off-dribble, the biggest gap of his career, and also the fewest catch-and-shoot in his career. You have to go all the way back to his lone season at Kentucky where he was a sixth-man, shooting mostly from the corner (155-56 in favor of off the catch).
Former Sun Mikal Bridges led a Team USA squad that was underwhelming on paper and on the court in this summer’s FIBA World Cup where they failed to medal again; their last medal came in that event came in 2014. Tom Haberstroh called it the E-Team for USA:
Team USA is going to be just fine. That wasn't our B Team. Or our C Team. Or even our D Team.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) September 11, 2023
I constructed four FULL rosters better than this one.
That's how good American basketball is. See y'all in Paris.
My latest at The Finder: https://t.co/ApT97nRgKO pic.twitter.com/Unzy8JAT2G
For my money, the FIBA squad should be ahead of Haberstroh’s D-Team, but the point remains: the talent was not good enough for what USA can send. Like Kuzma says, it’s just about getting those right kinds of stars to buy in. Suns fans know Booker is that right kind of star.
I like to picture a full, bought-in A-Team there in Paris — which starts in late July, so players can expect camp to probably start a couple weeks before that — with Booker starting alongside aging legends like Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant experiencing essentially a pass-the-torch moment.
Ideally, Booker would become a two-time gold medalist and the captain of Team USA going into the next generation.
As a final side note, Bridges, himself, told the media “I’ll never say no [to playing for Team USA]” after his World Cup run was over. It would be so cool to see them on the court together ahead of the “2026” that Booker previously alluded to.