You’d think that’d be enough to cover all the top American players.
But there are plenty of notable omissions, including: Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, Suns forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks big John Collins, Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton, Kings center Richaun Holmes, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Bulls forward Thaddeus Young.
Morant is a particularly strange omission. The Memphis point guard is one of the NBA’s most electric young players. He’s already good and has the tools to improve rapidly, even by the summer. He was also reportedly to be invited.
McCollum was playing like an MVP this season before getting hurt. That’s a small sample, yes. But he’d warrant Olympic consideration if he returns at anywhere near where he left off.
Bridges is the type of low-usage glue player who’d fit well as the 12th man for Team USA. He’s a versatile defender who shoots well from beyond the arc.
The other mentioned omitted players could be worthy if many stars sit out, like they did in the 2019 World Cup. Kawhi Leonard said he planned to play. Otherwise, top players have expressed plenty of uncertainty, given the coronavirus pandemic and altered NBA season.
This list of finalists provides some insight into USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo’s and Team USA coach Gregg Popovich’s thinking. But the list of “finalists” isn’t necessarily final. Players could always be added to the roster pool later. So, it isn’t worth getting too worked up about snubs.
Two players who were finalists back when the Olympics were still scheduled for 2020 – Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Warriors guard Klay Thompson – no longer crack the list. Thompson suffered another devastating injury. Smart has his own health concerns.
Shams Charania of The Athletic
One name missing from Team USA’s 57-player pool for Olympics: Boston’s Marcus Smart, who sources say was invited but opted out due to injury concerns from playing late into consecutive seasons and a shortened offseason this summer.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 11, 2021
The full list of finalists (new addition*):
- Jarrett Allen (Cleveland Cavaliers)*
- Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)*
- Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons)*
- Blake Griffin (Brooklyn Nets)*
- Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)*
- DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets)*
- Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)*
- Julius Randle (New York Knicks)*
- Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat)*
- Mitchell Robinson (New York Knicks)*
- Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors)*
- John Wall (Houston Rockets)*
- Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)*
- Christian Wood (Houston Rockets)*
- Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
- Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
- LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
- Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings)
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
- Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)
- Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
- Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
- Mike Conley (Utah Jazz)
- Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
- DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)
- Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
- Paul George (L.A. Clippers)
- Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
- James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
- Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets)
- Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Gordon Hayward (Charlotte Hornets)
- Dwight Howard (Philadelphia 76ers)
- Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
- Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
- LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers)
- Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
- Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
- JaVale McGee (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
- Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
- Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets)
- Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns)
- Mason Plumlee (Detroit Pistons)
- Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
- Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
- Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
- Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards)
- Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs)