Phoenix’s Devin Booker, and Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, committed to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics back when the idea of their NBA team making the Finals was more hope and dream. Then it became a reality.
Nobody would have blamed them if they backed out of their USA Basketball commitment after the stress and physical wear of the Finals, but they didn’t. All three got on a plane Friday and are currently in Tokyo, ready to suit up for the USA opener against France (at 2 a.m. Sunday, broadcast on NBCSN). Draymond Green was impressed, as he told reporters (hat tip to Brian Windhorst of ESPN).
“I have a lot of respect for those guys for not only committing to do this but actually keeping their word,” Team USA forward Draymond Green said. “You’re talking about three true professionals, three extremely competitive guys that wouldn’t be on their way here if this didn’t mean something…
“We could’ve very easily got to the last game … and Devin Booker saying, ‘Man, we lost, I’m pissed off, I’m out,’ or Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday saying, ‘We just won a championship, I want to celebrate and stay home with my family, I’m out,'” Green said. “It’s on us to make sure that we do our parts to make sure they’re rewarded with what they ultimately came here for, which is to help us to compete and win a gold medal.”
Team USA can use what those three bring. Booker is a shooter of the level no other country brings off the bench, plus he can do secondary shot creation. The guy just gets buckets. Middleton is the same, a halfcourt shot creator who is a matchup problem because of his height and shooting skills — he just shoots over the top of smaller defenders (as he did to Booker and Chris Paul in the Finals). Holiday is a physical defensive force who will be even more of an intimidator in the international game, where the officials allow even more physicality from defenders.
How much those three will be able to help against France remains to be seen. However, by the time of the single-elimination rounds and medal games, they will be in the heart of the rotation — and the USA needs them. This is a deep field of quality teams.