Ranking NBA Players' Best Team USA Performances Since 2000

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2021

Ranking NBA Players' Best Team USA Performances Since 2000

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    Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant
    Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe BryantCharles Krupa/Associated Press

    Throughout the history of men's basketball at the Olympics, the United States has dominated. And in recent decades, that excellence has been a product of top NBA players representing Team USA.

    Between the current era of NBA stars and the last generation, the 2000 Sydney Games marked the start of a transition. "Dream Team" members Charles Barkley, David Robinson and Scottie Pippen did not return to the Summer Olympics, and a new wave of NBA players flooded the international scene.

    We're here to highlight the best of that group.

    Although the ranking is subjective, factors include total production and impact on team performance. Preference is given to players who appeared in multiple Olympics.

7. Deron Williams

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    Sergio Perez/Associated Press

    During the prime of his NBA career, Deron Williams played a key role on two gold-winning Olympic teams.

    While hitting at least one three-pointer in all eight appearances at the 2008 Beijing Games, Williams averaged 8.0 points and 2.8 assists. Four years later in London, he tallied 9.0 points and 4.6 assists per game while shooting 40.6 percent from three.

    Williams played his best in 2012, posting a double-double in a win over Nigeria and scoring 18 points in the quarterfinals against Australia.

    Overall, he totaled 136 points at the Olympics, and he holds top-10 marks in men's Team USA history with 59 assists and 22 three-pointers.

6. Chris Paul

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Chris Paul built a reputation as a good scorer, great passer and absolute defensive pest. Given the talent around him, the Point God could focus on the latter two at the Olympics.

    For the "Redeem Team" in 2008, CP3 averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals. Paul had a spectacular game with 14 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals to defeat Spain and win Group B.

    In 2012, he averaged 8.3 points, 5.1 assists, 2.5 rebounds and an Olympic-best 2.5 steals per game. Paul connected on 46.4 percent of his threes and secured his second gold medal.

    Paul's 74 assists and 38 steals are both second in men's U.S. Olympic history.

5. Dwyane Wade

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    Dusan Vranic/Associated Press

    Dwyane Wade enjoyed a slightly more glamorous role than Williams and Paul as the featured scorer of the Redeem Team.

    After he and the United States took bronze in 2004, the star-studded 2008 roster recorded a double-digit margin of victory in all eight games. Wade netted a team-high 16.0 points per contest, including 27 in the gold-medal win against Spain.

    He wasn't all offense, though.

    Wade averaged 2.1 steals in 2004 and 2.3 in 2008, collecting 35 in his two Olympic appearances. He ranks fifth in men's Team USA history with those 35 steals and is eighth in points (186).

4. Kobe Bryant

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    Kobe Bryant made his NBA debut in 1996, but he didn't represent the United States in the Olympics until 2008.

    It was worth the wait.

    During the Beijing Games, the Los Angeles Lakers star averaged 15.0 points and 2.1 assists. Kobe poured in a team-best 25 points to bounce Australia in the quarterfinals and scored 20 with a team-high six assists in the gold-medal triumph over Spain.

    Bryant played fewer minutes in 2012, yet he practically matched his performance from four years prior. While scoring 12.1 points per game, he produced a team-high 20 against Australia in the quarterfinals and went for 17 to help the USA again topple Spain for gold.

    Kobe ranks third in men's U.S. Olympic history with 34 career three-pointers made, and he's seventh at 217 points.

3. LeBron James

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    LeBron James, the greatest player of this era, is merely No. 3 for Team USA. Still, his impact is unmistakable.

    As a bit player in 2004, LeBron had a frustrating experience and managed only 11.5 minutes per game. He returned for redemption in 2008 and helped the U.S. win gold. James racked up 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.4 steals per game while shooting 46.4 percent from three and 60.2 percent overall.

    In 2012, LeBron averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals, and he made a huge impact in the knockout round. After a triple-double against Australia in the quarterfinals, he scored 18 against Argentina in the semis and 19 against Spain to win gold.

    Thanks to three Olympic trips, LeBron leads all men's Team USA players in career assists (88), is third in points (273) and steals (36) and fourth in rebounds (95).

2. Carmelo Anthony

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    His nickname is "Olympic Melo" for a reason.

    Carmelo Anthony thrived in a complementary role at the Olympics, roaming the offensive end to bury catch-and-shoot jumpers and bully smaller players in the post. Frustratingly, he waited a long, long time to embrace that role in the NBA. But it sure worked when Melo played internationally.

    The 10-time NBA All-Star represented the United States at four Summer Games, winning three gold medals and one bronze.

    Anthony leads all men's Team USA players in career Olympic games (31) and rebounds (125) and is second in points (336) and three-pointers (57). He knocked down a U.S.-record 10 threes in a group-stage victory over Nigeria at the 2012 London Games.

1. Kevin Durant

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Entering the Tokyo Olympics, Kevin Durant had an all-time record in his sights. And during a win over the Czech Republic, KD passed Carmelo Anthony as the top male scorer in Team USA Olympic history.

    It's a fitting honor for someone who has thrived in the brightest spotlights at the Summer Games.

    During both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Durant scored 30 points in the gold-medal game. He paced the United States with 19.5 points per game in 2012 and 19.4 in 2016, burying an absurd 54.6 percent of his 108 combined three-point attempts.

    Between his featured role and immense production, there is no question that Durant stands atop the podium of men's Team USA players.