USA Basketball will seek a fourth consecutive gold medal at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. The Americans have succeeded in winning the tournament in every Olympics since 2004, when they were relegated to bronze under the watch of Larry Brown.
This year, the team will be under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich after Mike Krzyzewski guided the teams in the last three Olympics.
The 2021 roster looks quite a bit different than the team that competed five years ago. Kevin Durant will once again lead the charge, but there are several first-time Olympians who will play important roles. That list includes Damian Lillard, Devin Booker and Bam Adebayo.
While it's an unfamiliar cast on the international stage, it will offer players like Lillard, who has been on fire with the team, the chance to shine.
The pressure to win will be real in Tokyo. Since NBA players starting representing the country, Team USA is 53-3 in the Olympics. The 2004 team was the only one to lose a game.
After a bumpy exhibition warm-up run, the stakes will be high. Here's a look at the complete roster.
Team USA Basketball Roster
- G Jrue Holiday
- G Keldon Johnson
- G Devin Booker
- G Zach LaVine
- G Damian Lillard
- F Khris Middleton
- F Kevin Durant
- F Jerami Grant
- F Draymond Green
- F Jayson Tatum
- C Bam Adebayo
- C JaVale McGee
The basketball tournament will start with pool play, with the 12 nations placed in groups of four. The first three games on the schedule for Team USA will be against fellow groupmates, France, Iran and Czech Republic.
From there, the top two teams in each group will advance to tournament play. Here's what the schedule looks like, including the group play matchups.
Team USA Schedule
Sunday, July 25
France vs. USA, 8 a.m. ET
Wednesday, July 28
Iran vs. USA, 12:40 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 31
USA vs. Czech Republic, 8 a.m. ET
Tuesday, August 3
Thursday, August 5
Friday, August 6
Men's Gold Medal Game, 10:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, August 7
Men's Bronze Medal Game, 7 a.m. ET
Gold Medal Odds
- USA -320 (bet $320 to win $100)
- Australia +750
- Spain +900
- Slovenia +1500
- France +1600
- Nigeria +3000
- Argentina +3500
- Italy +4000
- Czech Republic +10000
- Germany +15000
- Japan +30000
- Iran +50000
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Team USA comes into the tournament as the odds-on favorite to take home gold, but that's far from a guarantee. This team has already shown some cause for concern after it lost back-to-back exhibitions to Nigeria and Australia.
Losing to the team from Down Under is especially concerning as the Australians are among the underdogs with the shortest odds to pull off the upset.
The biggest hurdle standing in the way of Team USA as it prepares for a busy schedule is getting on the same page. Three of the 12 players (Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday) are fresh off the NBA Finals.
Popovich has been open about his uncertainty regarding the introduction of the trio in Tokyo.
"I have no idea [how to use them]. I'm not trying to be glib. I'm trying to be transparent," Popovich said, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN. "Maybe they'll be OK for the game [Sunday] and it'll hit them two days later. Maybe we should play them in the first half and see what they're like. Maybe they'll have to play."
They will be tested right away by a France team that isn't short on NBA talent. The French will feature Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum. They beat Team USA as recently as 2019, so it's far from a guaranteed win in the opener.
The Australia team that beat Team USA in exhibition play won't be going away, either. It is the most talented team in Group B and has plenty of NBA talent in its own right. Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum and Patty Mills will lead the Boomers.
Looking at the tournament as a whole and forecasting a winner, it's difficult to pick against Team USA. Early struggles aside, it did rebound to beat Argentina by 28 going into the tournament.
Even if it was to drop a game to France early on, there would still be two games to come together against Iran and Czech Republic. Both should offer opportunities for a tuneup before another important game is played.
It might not be easy, but Team USA is the favorite to win for a reason.
Prediction: Team USA wins gold.