NEW YORK — The U.S. has selected its 12-player roster, led by Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, that will try to win the Americans’ third straight Olympic basketball gold medal.
Durant and Anthony are the only players with Olympic experience after a number of stars, including LeBron James, decided to skip Rio.
Also chosen Monday for the team were: Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes; Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan; Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving; Indiana’s Paul George; Chicago’s Jimmy Butler; Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan.
Irving was the MVP of the 2014 Basketball World Cup on a U.S. team that included Thompson, Cousins and DeRozan and easily won gold.
The Americans should roll into Rio as the favorites. Yet they won’t look as imposing as expected after the withdrawals of NBA MVP Stephen Curry and All-Stars such as Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and James Harden.
So the Americans will look to Anthony, who becomes the first U.S. men’s basketball player to appear in four Olympics, and Durant, who set a U.S. record by averaging 19.5 points in London.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will coach the Americans for the third and final time, tying Henry Iba’s team record, and be assisted by Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau and former Oklahoma City assistant Monty Williams.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo assembled a 31-player roster pool and had to go deep into it — and eventually even beyond it — to find 12 players. Some players, such as forwards Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin, were lost to injury, while others declined the invitation for personal reasons.
The final and perhaps biggest blow was James, who would have joined Anthony with a fourth selection but pulled out last week after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA championship.
The heaviest losses came at the point guard spot, where Curry passed on making his Olympic debut after knee and ankle injuries in the playoffs. Former Olympians Paul and Westbrook pulled out and Washington’s John Wall was injured. What was a position of strength became so depleted that Lowry was added last week even though he wasn’t even a member of the pool.
The Americans will open training camp in Las Vegas on July 18 and play five exhibition games before traveling to Rio.
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