LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry Top Preliminary Team USA Olympic Roster

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IFebruary 10, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA basketball game at Chase Center on February 08, 2020 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 44 finalists to join the U.S. men's basketball team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer were announced Sunday night.   

Unsurprisingly, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are in the running. Other notable names are Houston Rockets All-Star duo James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

Durant has been out since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals with a ruptured Achilles. The Golden State Warriors ultimately lost to a Toronto Raptors side led by Leonard before Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers and KD went to the Brooklyn Nets last summer.

However, New Orleans Pelicans rookie No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, Memphis Grizzlies rookie second overall pick Ja Morant and Atlanta Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young were absent from the list.

Twenty-nine of the 44 finalists have combined for 31 Olympic or FIBA Basketball World Cup gold medals.

The final 12-player roster will be announced at a later date.

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The lead-up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup proved how much can change from the preliminary roster to the final roster. Harden, Lillard, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Tobias Harris, Kevin Love, CJ McCollum and JJ Redick were among stars to withdraw their names from consideration for the FIBA World Cup. 

McCollum opened up on Adrian Wojnarowski's ESPN podcast The Woj Pod as to why so many American stars were skipping the international tournament:

The U.S. finished seventh at the World Cup after losing 89-79 to France in the quarterfinals on Sept. 11. 

Later in September, Curry cemented his interest in representing the U.S. at the 2020 Olympics during an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols"Definitely wanna go. I've never been on the Olympic team. I've been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it."

Curry has been sidelined since Oct. 30 with a broken hand that required surgery.

Around the same time as Curry's comments, fellow Golden State Warriors All-Star Klay Thompson told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II that he "would love to be on the Olympic team" despite suffering a torn ACL during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. 

Lillard also told News.com.au's James McKern he plans "on being a part of that."

However, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told reporters he would not forget who decided to skip last year's FIBA World Cup:

"I can only say, you can't help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn't show up. ... All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand, you feel reasonably confident that you're going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court. No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had."

The Americans are three-time defending Olympic gold medalists. James was a member of the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal-winning squads, but the 2016 winners were led by Carmelo Anthony and Durant, while no other player on that roster had previously been to the Olympics.

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