LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant headline USA Basketball's Olympic roster

USA Basketball's latest “dream team” features star power, experience and size, and a renewed emphasis on defense.

With this summer's Paris Olympics fast approaching, USA Basketball executive director Grant Hill announced the roster of 12 players on Wednesday: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday. Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Halliburton, Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard.

“We have a very exciting, very talented and very experienced roster,” Hill said. “We are grateful that we had so many people who were willing to be a part of this. We had a lot of candidates. It was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. We are delighted to have made this list of 12. We look forward to the journey and the mission as we aim to bring back gold from the Olympics.”

This list has plenty of gold medalists and no big surprises. James, Durant and Curry telegraphed their interest in playing together in October, and Hill picked two freshmen: Embiid, who chose to play for the United States over France or his native Cameroon, and Leonard, the two-time NBA Finals MVP. Managed a series of offseason health concerns in his prime.

USA Basketball drew heavily from its Tokyo Olympics team that won gold in 2021 and its recent FIBA ​​World Cup team that finished fourth in September. Durant, Tatum, Adebayo, Booker and Holiday played in Tokyo; Edwards and Halliburton excelled during the World Cup run. James will compete for USA Basketball for the first time since winning his second Olympic gold medal in 2012, and Curry, a two-time gold medalist at the FIBA ​​World Championships, will be pursuing his first Olympic gold.

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For Hill, who succeeded Jerry Colangelo as managing director after the Tokyo Olympics, the disappointing World Cup showing is evidence that he needs a bigger and more physical squad to match up more effectively against top international competition. The US men, led by Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, will face Serbia in the opening game of the tournament.

“The FIBA ​​game is a different game than the NBA game,” Hill said. “We want players who translate games on that platform. Defense, experience, collective understanding of how to win — it's a puzzle. You need talented people, and you need players who can mix, match and play some of the roles you need. Safety is definitely a priority. Lockdown, protecting multiple sets within possession, emotional maturity, and then having guys capable of mixing personalities. Resurgence is something we have struggled with [in the World Cup].”

Davis and Embiid, who are coming off February knee surgery, give the team a much longer and bulkier frontcourt than they played in the World Cup. Holiday and Leonard, who missed the final eight games of the regular season with a sore knee, should provide solid perimeter defense to round out a deep collection of scorers.

Hill said the team has a “contingency plan at every position” if Embiid, Leonard or another player is unable to play due to health concerns, which he declined to disclose. The program chose to announce its 12-man roster before the NBA playoffs so that the decisions wouldn't hang on the players and the team could begin the process of building an extended squad ahead of Paris.

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The 12-member team was selected from the 41-member panel announced in January. Jimmy Butler, Paul George, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Chris Paul are among the notable candidates who didn't make the finals. Also not selected: Draymond Green (not included in the starting lineup) and Kyrie Irving, both of whom have dealt with major suspensions in recent years.

Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jaren Jackson Jr. led a roster of rising stars squeezed out of a veteran-dominated squad. Ja Morant and Zion Williamson, who are rehabbing season-ending shoulder injuries, were left out of the starting lineup.

“Sometimes you can have a collection of the best, but having the best fit is paramount,” Hill said. “We were very thoughtful and intentional about it.”

Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors will coach the Americans in Paris after guiding the World Cup team last summer. Kerr has indicated that he will step down after the Olympics. His staff in Paris includes Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue and Gonzaga coach Mark Few. The Americans won Olympic gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016 under Mike Krzyzewski and in 2021 under Gregg Popovich.

The United States is one of eight teams to qualify for the 12-team field of the Olympics, and the Americans should enter as heavy favorites. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Serbia and South Sudan are also taking part in Paris. The United States will be joined by Serbia, South Sudan and the qualifiers from Group C in the opening round of the tournament.

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