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USA Olympic Basketball Team 2021: Roster, Jerseys, Top Comments and Predictions

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 23, 2021

United States' Kevin Durant plays against Australia during an exhibition basketball game Monday, July 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

The United States Olympic basketball teams find themselves in familiar positions as the tournaments get underway in Japan. 

Both the men's and women's squads are expected to return home with gold medals, even though their Olympic preparations did not produce overwhelmingly great results. 

The United States men will receive a boost for their group-stage opener, as Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday should be available after making the flight over to Japan following Game 6 of the NBA Finals. 

Gregg Popovich's team opens against France and then takes on Iran and Czech Republic in its three group games.

The American women, who are coached by Dawn Staley, open with Nigeria and then take on Japan and France in Group B. 

Both squads are expected to win their respective groups and reach the gold-medal game to defend the titles won in Brazil in 2016.

The rosters for both squads can be found here on the USA Basketball website. 

       

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Predictions

American Men Recover From Tough Exhibition Results To Win Gold

John Locher/Associated Press

The United States men caught everyone's attention in the worst possible way for its losses to Nigeria and Australia at the start of their exhibition schedule in Las Vegas. 

A handful of factors were at play that caused those two defeats to happen. The American players had to adjust to the international style of the game, they had to develop on-court chemistry and they played without three of their top players. 

Popovich's team rebounded from those losses with victories over Argentina and Spain, but there were still some speed bumps along the way. 

The roster had to be altered with Bradley Beal and Kevin Love replaced by Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee.

Because of the length of the NBA Finals, Booker, Middleton and Holiday did not have a chance to participate in any of the warm-up games. 

Popovich noted that all three players should arrive in Tokyo by Saturday and should be available in some capacity for Sunday's opener against France, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst

When discussing the three players, Popovich was unsure what their usage rates may be because of the stress involved with the NBA Finals and the travel across the world. 

"I have no idea [how to use them]. I'm not trying to be glib. I'm trying to be transparent," Popovich said. "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."

Popovich added that he has been thinking about the opener against France for quite some time. France eliminated the United States form medal contention at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 

"We've been preparing for France for two years. I think about it every day," Popovich said, per NBCSports.com.

In addition to France, Argentina, Nigeria and Slovenia—with Luka Doncic on the roster—are among the contenders to take the gold medal away from the United States. 

If Booker, Middleton and Holiday transition into the team well, the Americans should reach another level on the court, as they combine with Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and others. 

The United States has the deepest and most talented roster, and that should prove to be true over two weeks of competition. 

             

United States Women Defend Gold Medal

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Sue Bird #6 of the USA Basketball Womens National Team looks on during the game against the Nigeria Women's National Team on July 18, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
Stephen Gosling/Getty Images

The American women made some headlines when they lost to Australia by three points in their first warm-up contest in Las Vegas. 

That result was quickly put aside after the United States downed Nigeria by 31 points two days later. 

Dawn Staley's roster is loaded with talent, starting with four-time Olympic champion Sue Bird, who was one of two flag bearers for the opening ceremony.

Bird, Diana Taurasi, A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart are among the stars who should lead the American women to another gold medal. 

Taurasi's status for Tuesday's opener against Nigeria is up in the air at the moment as she deals with a hip injury.

"I'm getting a little better every day," Taurasi said, per ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel. "I've touched the court for the last few days, so that's definitely a good sign. When you haven't played for a while, there's a little bit of a protocol to get back on the court. I'm checking all the boxes and hopefully, I'll be ready for the first game against Nigeria."

Taurasi and Bird are two of the most experienced players in the entire Olympics. The two former UConn stars are both participating in their fifth Olympic tournaments. 

Bird, Taurasi, Stewart, Tina Charles, Brittney Griner and Sylvia Fowles are holdovers from the 2016 squad that won the gold in 2016.

In that tournament, the Americans had a +204 point differential in the group stage and defeated Spain 101-72 in the gold-medal contest. 

Spain, Australia and France are viewed as the favorites to reach the gold-medal game, but it is unlikely that any of them significantly challenge the Americans. 

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