With the 2024 Paris Olympics creeping closer by the day and a generation of stars seeming to gear up for their final international appearances, it only makes sense that the group of finalists reported on Tuesday would include some aging superstars.
Among the 41-man group are Phoenix Suns superstars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker as well as former Suns twins Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.
USA Basketball player pool of 41 finalists that will be used to select the 12-player roster for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris: pic.twitter.com/Bs1yqnQDQD— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 23, 2024
Durant’s former head coach while playing for the Golden State Warriors and former Suns general manager, Steve Kerr, is expected to coach the squad in Paris. Kerr was named coach by former Suns forward Grant Hill in December 2020 and coached the USA through last summer’s World Cup in which the USA failed to medal with a less-than-stellar roster.
Both Bridges and Johnson were on the World Cup squad.
During a gold medal run at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Gregg Popovich at the helm, Durant averaged 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while Booker averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists as more of a role player.
Bradley Beal was a notable omission from the 41-man finalist group, especially considering he was a member of the Tokyo squad before Booker replaced him after Beal had to come out with COVID-19.
At Suns media day in September, Beal spoke on whether he would be interested in another opportunity: “Yes sir. 100%.”
With Beal not in the picture, the list instead featured connective or defensive guards such as Alex Caruso, Derrick White, and Josh Hart. This is an element that many USA squads have lacked at the Olympics — true role players.
The third former Sun on the group is Chris Paul, who is currently coached by Kerr in Golden State.
Paul is having maybe his worst year as a pro statistically with 8.9 points (would be only season below double-digits) and 7.2 assists (second-lowest in career) per game, but he has two Olympic gold medals and could serve as one of a few veteran leaders within the group.
Here’s what my 12-man depth chart would look like based on the 41 names listed:
PG: Steph Curry, Tyrese Haliburton
SG: Devin Booker, Anthony Edwards, Jrue Holiday
SF: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
PF: LeBron James, Anthony Davis
C: Joel Embiid, Chet Holmgren
What changes would you make to this 12-man group?