Team USA is taking shape with Bucks sharpshooter Khris Middleton (who sunk Brooklyn with his go-ahead bucket in Game 7 Saturday night) and All-Star forward Kevin Love the latest to commit to next month’s Tokyo Olympics. This will be Love’s second time representing Team USA following an earlier appearance in 2012, when he paced the United States with 7.6 rebounds per game in London.
Middleton and Love join a stacked U.S. squad seeking its fourth straight gold medal. Kevin Durant, America’s leading scorer each of the past two Olympics, headlines a loaded roster comprised of perennial NBA All-Stars including past Olympians Draymond Green and James Harden as well as first-timers Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum. Jimmy Butler, Steph Curry and Donovan Mitchell reportedly declined invites, with Mitchell citing an ankle injury as the reason he won't be going to Tokyo this summer.
Durant’s commitment was somewhat surprising after logging an exhausting 40.4 minutes per game for the shorthanded Nets this postseason. The former MVP is also coming off an Achilles’ tear, which cost him all of last season. The United States, coached by Gregg Popovich for the first time (Mike Krzyzewski retired following the 2016 games in Rio), still have two roster spots to fill, but could be saving those for Clippers teammates Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who are still competing in the NBA Playoffs. Leonard, a two-time Finals MVP and former Defensive Player of the Year, hasn’t suited up since injuring his knee in L.A.’s previous series against Utah.
Team USA hasn’t lost an Olympics since 2004, though the US, led by the Celtics quartet of Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker (who has since been traded to Oklahoma City) and Marcus Smart, finished a disappointing seventh at the recent FIBA World Cup in 2019. Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony, the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history, will be absent from Team USA for the first time since 2000.