Way-too-early predictions for the 2024 US Men’s Olympic basketball roster
The US men’s olympic basketball squad took home the gold once again earlier this summer, claiming their seventh first-place finish in the eight Olympics since the US started sending professional players. Despite being loaded with talent, Team USA got off to a shakey start, losing multiple exhibition games and falling to France in their first game of pool play. While they would eventually find their footing, their early struggles were a testiment to how far the rest of the world has come in terms of basketball development. For team USA, this development only gets scarier as they look to the future. Three most likely candidates to be the best player in the world by 2024 (Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo) are foreign-born. If the US hopes to remain on top, they’re going to have to send their best to Paris in three years. Let’s project which players will be in their primes at that point and attempt to construct the best possible roster for the 2024 Olympics.
Young will be 25 in 2024, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the best point guards in the league at that point. He’s already one of the best passers in the game, and his three-point shooting makes him an ideal fit for international basketball. Defense will no-doubt be an issue, but Team USA can live with it if it means they can have a Steph Curry-lite as their starting point guard.
Beal would’ve been on the 2021 roster earlier this summer were he not placed in health and safety protocols just prior to the start of the games. It would be great to see him get another crack at taking home a gold medal, and he’ll likely still be on the tail-end of his prime at age 31 in 2024. His ability to play on or off the ball makes him a great fit for an egalitarian Team USA offense, and he can play sufficient defense when he’s locked in.
Team USA loves to bring back former players, as they’ve already adjusted to international play and understand the team’s system. Greg Popovich might be long-retired by this point, so the system might be different, but Tatum can still bring experience and leadership having won gold earlier this summer in Tokyo. Oh, and he’ll still be one of the best forwards in the league by that point. At age 26, he’ll be entering his absolute apex as a wing scorer and perimeter defender. He can play the 2, 3 or 4 position, handle the ball, spot up in the corner, and he’s a great go-to option in clutch situations. He’s a no-brainer lock if healthy.
In addition to Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Doncic, Williamson is another candidate for the best-player-in-the-world title by 2024. He’ll still only be 24, but seeing as he’s already an All-Star in just his second season, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a full-fledged mini-Shaq by that point.
Williamson will be an interesting fit for Team USA, seeing as he’s not the usual lengthy, shooting wing that Jerry Colangelo and co. normally pursue. Even so, his talent is undeniable, and he’ll have a field day feasting on smaller teams in international play. He might also be playing alongside a center that masks his deficiencies perfectly.
Davis would be an excellent fit next to Williamson, as he’d protect the rim on one end and spread the floor for him on the other. They’re a great match, which is ironic considering they could’ve played together in New Orleans had Davis not demanded a trade to the Lakers.
Davis has been playing Olympic ball even before he was playing NBA ball, winning gold in London back in 2012 prior to his rookie season. He’s a great defensive anchor, and he’ll still have a lot left in the tank at age 31. Injuries are always a concern with him, but if he happens to be healthy following the 2023-24 season, he should be a lock at the starting center spot.
Another Team USA mainstay, Irving was also molded for international play at an early age (who could forget his trash-talking with Kobe Bryant at a Team USA camp back in 2012) and started at point guard for the 2016 Rio team. He’ll be 32 in 2024, but he just came off of arguably a career year. Like Tatum and Davis, he’ll be familiar with international play.
Yet another returning player, Booker will also be at his apex in 2024 at age 27. Coming off an impressive Finals run last season with Phoenix, Booker has already become one of the most dynamic guards in the league. You can never have enough ball-handling, shooting or tough-shot-making, and Booker brings all of those in spades.
Tatum’s running mate is exactly what an ideal Team USA role player would look like if Colangelo were to build one in a lab. He’s long, switchable and athletic. He can run the wing in transition, hit spot-up jumpers and create off the dribble when necessary. Coming off of his first All-Star appearance last season, he might be a fully-realized superstar by the time he turns 27, but even if he remains the player he is now, he’s a perfect fit.
If Brown is the perfect Team USA supporting wing, then Adebayo is the perfect supporting center. He played great for his country this summer as the starting center in Tokyo, anchoring the US’s defense and doing the dirty work (setting screens, rim-running) on the offensive end. He’s yet another player that will be entering his prime at age 27 when the 2024 games roll around.
The man who beat out Williamson for the 2020 Rookie of the Year (mostly because he played far more games, but still), Morant was spectacular in his postseason debut earlier this year against the Utah Jazz, averaging 30.2 points and 8.2 assists and making his presence known as one of the faces of the league’s future. He’d be a great spark plug off the bench for Team USA if they need to push the pace and inject some athleticism into their offense. A gold medal would be a great 25th birthday present for him.
If there’s a perimeter threat on an opposing country’s team that needs to be shut down (Doncic on Slovenia, for instance), Bridges is the man for the job. Snubbed for an All-Defensive team spot this season (he received the most votes of any player not selected) Bridges could be the best perimeter defender in the league in 2024, when he’ll be at the peak age of 28. He also shot a spectacular 42.5% from three last season, making him essentially the perfect role player.
Michael Porter Jr.
Porter is a bit of a mystery box, but assuming he stays healthy and maintains his current trajectory, he could absolutely be deserving of a roster spot by the time 2024 rolls around, when he’ll be in his prime at age 26. His 6’10 frame makes him a walking mismatch, and he can spread the floor playing alongside other ball-dominant players. A true shooting rate of 66.3% on a high-volume of attempts as a perimeter scorer is downright unheard of, beyond a certain three-time gold medalist who currently plays in Brooklyn. Porter will probably never reach Kevin Durant’s level, but he can fill a similar role for Team USA once Durant calls it quits. But who knows? Durant still looks like the best player in the world at age 32, so he might just go for a fourth medal in 2024.