USA Basketball announced the opening pool of finalists for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team on Monday morning, and five current Los Angeles Lakers made it into the group. While everyone probably expected to see LeBron James and Anthony Davis get their names on the list, fewer may have thought it was a guarantee to see Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee make the initial 44-man cut.
But that’s exactly what happened, and to see who they’ll be competing against for spots, here is the initial list that head coach Gregg Popovich and managing director Jerry Colangelo will have to trim down to 12 before training camp for the Olympics this summer (via USA Basketball):
Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat); Mike Conley (Utah Jazz); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers); DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs); Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets); Paul George (L.A. Clippers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Montrezl Harrell (L.A. Clippers); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers); Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics); Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers); Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans); Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets); LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers); Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder); Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
The national team seems to have prioritized some level of prior experience with the program in assembling this group, as shown in which Lakers they selected. As the press release from USA Basketball highlighted, “James is a three-time Olympic medalist (2004 bronze and 2008 and 2012 gold) who is attempting to make a historic fourth U.S. Olympic men’s team. A fourth Olympic appearances would tie James with Carmelo Anthony for the most by any U.S. male basketball player.”
In Davis’ case, he memorably won gold as the only member of the undefeated 2012 Olympic team with no professional experience. Howard was a starter for the 2008 Olympic team that went undefeated in Beijing. Kuzma of course was nearly part of the national team that took part in the World Championships this summer before leaving the roster due to injury, with Popovich saying the team missed him. McGee was a training camp finalist for the 2010 World Championships in Turkey.
While all five of these guys making the final cut seems unlikely — especially if the Lakers make a finals run and some of them want to sit out to rest, or due to free agency (Davis and Howard) or aging (James) — even making this group has to be an honor for all of these guys, as not everyone gets to say they were in consideration for an Olympic team in their lifetime. Congrats to all of them on earning a cool bit of recognition for both their current level of play and past commitment.