Among all American citizens who make a living playing professional basketball, JaVale McGee is probably one of the least likely to represent American basketball in the Tokyo Olympics.
McGee has played in the NBA for 13 seasons, only three of which he became a double-digit scorer at the end of the season. He has never participated in an All-Star Game. In the games he played, he started less than half of the times.
According to multiple reports, McGee received a call when the senior men’s national team needed to be replaced at the last minute. How far he has been in the list of candidates is still unclear; Jerry Colangelo, a member of the Hall of Fame and the executive director of the US Men’s Basketball Team, failed to meet with the media as scheduled on Friday afternoon because the team The two lineup changes have not been officially announced.
Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love withdrew from training camp after a season shortened by a serious calf injury. McGee got his place. According to reports, due to “health and safety” regulations, Wizards guard Bradley Beal cannot participate in the Japanese game. According to reports, his position will be replaced by Spurs winger Kelden Johnson, who has participated in training camps as a member of the special team and practiced with senior teams.
The two players selected to fill the gap in the roster means that this team now has three players averaging less than 13 points per game last season, and the United States has two fewer long-range shooters than planned. Johnson and McGee are not good at this aspect.
The situation surrounding the senior men’s national team before these Olympics began to resemble the situation in 2004, when three years after the 9/11 incident, many players said they felt that safety measures were not enough to make them comfortable. Tracy McGrady rejected a position on the team, as did point guard Mike Bibby. Those who declined the invitation for various reasons included Kenyon Martin, Elton Brand, Ray Allen, and Vince Carter. For some of them, this will be the first opportunity to compete for the gold medal. It’s ok.
However, this is very important for the team, they only won a bronze medal.
“We want gold, but I want everything now. That’s how it is,” forward Sean Marion said at the time. “At least we will bring something home. We will not go home empty-handed.”
Choosing McGee to replace Love did solve the problem of the team’s initial lack of defense in the frontcourt in 2021. Except for the 6-9 Heat center Bam Adebayor, the only real big man on the team is Love, who often stays away from the goal on the offensive end. Ideally, Johnson provides the team with physical fitness on the perimeter.
Three players are also participating in the NBA Finals-Devin Booker of the Suns and Chris Middleton and Juholardy of the Bucks-this series may now end on Thursday at the latest. After the first pool game in the day. It was against France, ranked 7th in the FIBA world, the most difficult opponent in the group so far.
“I have no worries,” Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine told reporters. “I think we are the best basketball players in the world. Anyway, we have to go out and get the job done. I don’t think anyone will feel sorry for us.”
After winning consecutive gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016, it is easy to forget what happened in 2004. That American team eventually became the youngest team since an NBA player was allowed to participate in the Olympics in 1992, and lost the first pool game towards Puerto Rico at the age of 19. The other lost to Lithuania by a quarter, half The final lost to Argentina by eight points. The bronze medal is the only time the US team failed to win a gold medal in the seven Olympic Games for professional players.
The American team has lost to Nigeria and Australia twice in exhibition games, and Bill is the team’s third scorer. Trailblazers superstar Damian Lillard said he does not want Love to quit, but given the unusualness of the past two NBA seasons, he cannot express surprise, both of which have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic .
“It’s a blow to lose these people, but our team has a lot of great players, and the team has a lot of versatility,” Lillard said. “This is a team made up of the best players in our league. We just have good training and hard training. To me, everyone seems to be engaged. I haven’t seen anyone waver. “
After he averaged 12.2 points for the Cavaliers and only played 25 of the 72 games due to injuries, it is already a curiosity to include Love on the roster. At least, this may be reasonable, because Love has a career three-pointer percentage of 37% and has always been one of the best rebounders in the NBA. However, in the team’s three exhibition games, he played a total of only 15 minutes, and then withdrew on Friday, because injuries did not allow him to reach his best form.
To say the least, it is strange to replace him with McGee. McGee averaged 7.3 points per game in 46 games, starting for the Cavaliers and Nuggets only twice. He is a professional veteran, with a career score of only 5,856 points. The only skill above average is blocking shots. However, he was once a member of three NBA championship teams.
Johnson averaged 12.8 points and 33% field goal percentage. This is his second season in the league. So far, he has played 13 minutes per game in three games and averaged 5.5 points per game.
Sadiq Bay of the Pistons, also on the select team, had almost the same average points as Johnson last season, but as a shooter, he scored much higher (38%, 175 hits). He will have to wait four years to see if there is a place for him in the Olympics. Or there are more problems to develop, which seems not impossible.