Predicting the 2016 Rio Team USA Men’s Basketball team


It seems like it was just yesterday America brought home the gold in the 2012 London Olympics in men’s basketball, thanks to the efforts of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others. Now we’re one year away from competition in the 2016 Rio Olympics and with news of Blake Griffin participating in Team USA’s upcoming  minicamp mid-August, I thought it’d be fun to try and predict which 12 players will make the final roster for the 2016 Rio Olympics.


Apr 10, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard

James Harden

(13) dribbles the ball as San Antonio Spurs forward

Kawhi Leonard

(2) defends during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. The Spurs won 104-103. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

F Blake Griffin, F Kawhi Leonard, G James Harden, G Kyrie Irving, G Klay Thompson, G Russell Westbrook, C DeMarcus Cousins

A few of these names were easy: Griffin, Harden, Irving (the Duke connection gets him in the door), Westbrook — if healthy of course. From there, it was a matter of sifting through a group of extremely talented players for 10 through 12, finally sticking with DeMarcus Cousins for additional girth for the inevitable Spain-USA matchup (Dwight Howard would’ve been my pick but I’m not sure if he’d be down for participation coming off the bench behind Anthony Davis; who knows), Klay Thompson due to his ability to space-and-defend, and former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who’s making himself available to Team USA for the first time in his career after invitations in the past — Leonard could be to the ’16 Olympic team what Tayshaun Prince was to the ’08 Olympic team and what Andre Igoudala was to the ’12 Olympic team.

This group gives Team USA a bundle of variety in regards to what lineups Coach K can use when blending reserves with the starters. Speaking of starters …


Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shakes hands with Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) during the fourth quarter of game six of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Warriors won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

G Stephen Curry, F Paul George, F Kevin Durant, F LeBron James, F Anthony Davis

The biggest question when deciding the starting group for Team USA was who’d be featured alongside four players who seem to be a lock in LeBron (USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo recently said James, who’ll be 31 next summer, is very interested in playing), Durant, Steph, and AD. There are numerous guards and wings who could step into this spot but considering Paul George was on par to start during the 2014 FIBA games prior to injury, I feel he’s — again — on par to start if injury isn’t an issue in the upcoming basketball season.

So how does this group play? Obviously fast and from the outside, given all five players are capable of knocking down the shorter international three-ball, especially Durant and Curry. From there, you’ve James’ ability to create from the inside out (as well as Davis), the three wings and guard being able to create in the pick-and-roll, all four non-guards able to step in as the screen an, etc.

Want to go small? Team USA could go Curry, Harden, Westbrook, a forward (Kawhi, Bron, Durant, etc.), and a big (Griffin, Cousins, Davis). Want to play big? Team USA could lead with James at point guard — something the former MVP would probably love — surrounded by three wings, and a big. Spread the floor? A five featuring Curry, Durant, Thompson, Harden, and one of Blake or Davis will surely give teams issues.

The possibilities are endless.


Needless to say, if this group is healthy, all teams — including Spain who’s been something of a ‘pest’ to Team USA dating back to 2008 despite failing to knock off the top dog — will have a tough time matching up with this group.

More from Clipperholics