What could Team USA look like?

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damian lillard usa

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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 the 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 squad, 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.